Release Your Inner Artist

Practice sketching with free program at Nasher Museum

"Sketching in the Galleries" is a family-friendly event that allows artists of all skills practice their drawing at the Nasher Museum of Art. Photo by J Caldwell/Nasher Museum of Art.

Lifting a small, wooden frame the size of her fist to her eye, Robin Johnson peered at "Untitled #1111 (Little Ed's Daughter Margaret)," an 11-feet tall assemblage of tree branches, feathers, ribbon, thread and hundreds of silk flowers dipped in a specially formulated midnight blue wax.

Focusing on a mid-section curve of the structure in the Nasher Museum of Art, Johnson put pencil to paper and began lightly tracing what she saw.

It was another Saturday at the Nasher during "Sketching in the Galleries," a free monthly event where Duke community members and local residents can gather in Duke's famed art space to create their own artistic creations. With drawing materials supplied for participants, artists of all skill levels can practice sketching in the comfort of a no-pressure situation.

"It's a good opportunity to learn from seeing other artists' work and seeing different perspectives," said Johnson, a Durham resident. "Art takes practice and training like any sport, and the Nasher is a good place for it because of all the options you have."

Sketching in the Galleries occurs monthly from 10 a.m. to noon. The next session is June 15. Other summer sketching events happen July 20 and Aug. 17. A full list of events can be found online.

Each sketching program begins with a warm-up activity, which allows visitors to get in the right mindset. Liz Peters, an education associate at the Nasher Museum, said it's important to take time and collect your thoughts before getting into an artistic mood.

"Drawing may not come naturally for everybody, so it's good to get out the kinks and concentrate," Peters said. "It could be as easy as working on using straight lines or closing your eyes and picturing something in your head to draw."

After each a warm-up activity, sketchers are can roam exhibits at the museum, which supplies for free special sketching chairs and materials like graphite pencils, erasers and various kinds of paper with differing contours and thickness.

"Most people who come in are just looking for something fun to do on a Saturday morning," Peters said. "You don't have to be an artist. Drawing is what you see and not everybody sees the same thing, so it should be fun."

That was why Johnson decided to come to Sketching in the Galleries. As someone who appreciates collage art, she liked the idea of practicing drawing will admiring the newest exhibition of art at the Nasher Museum, a selection of collages made by Wangechi Mutu.

"There are such a wide variety of objects to practice with," Johnson said. "I always look forward to practicing my artistic side."