Idiots, Kimonos, and Hoop Skirts

Posted Monday, July 25, 2016 by Kerry McFall

Sketching in a cool museum on a hot day.  Does it get any better?  The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California holds “Sketch-It” events once a month, and I was able to attend one yesterday.  A young art educator (as she called herself) offered a folding chair, paper, pencils, and encouragement as a couple dozen folks sketched in the glass exhibit.

I had hardly walked into the first big room when I knew what I wanted to sketch – a life size translucent glass kimono, lit from everywhere and nowhere, bowing slightly.  The aqua glow that emanated from every edge and fold made it seem ghostly, effervescent.  Somehow she had created this work in three large chunks, lighter at the top and the bottom part darker.  And as a bonus, there was a young girl sketching on the opposite side of the sculpture, so I had a brief opportunity to include another sketcher on my page.

I haven’t done much with pencil for a long time, and although I like the flexibility of being able to erase, all the smudges make me crazy.  Shiny grey patches on my hands, my clothes, my pages… but apparently this museum has experienced idiots actually drawing on the paintings and other exhibits with ink, and paints, etc.  Grr-r-r-.  So they limited us to pencil.  I wanted to paint that aqua light so badly…  Even so, what a privilege to be in the presence of such creative force.  I fiddled around with some color in Photoshop after I took a photo of my sketch, not the same as watercolor but it does give you an idea of the color.

"Boy Sketching at Crocker", pencil by Kerry McFall

“Boy Sketching at Crocker”, pencil by Kerry McFall

This is a free program, and anyone over the age of 5 is encouraged to draw!  During the two hours I stayed in that exhibit, there were about thirty people brave enough to give it a go, folks of all ages.  The educator came through now and then to see if we needed anything. I have found in my own work  as art educator that it is usually the kids who are eager and absorbed, and the adults who tend to be fussy.  She fielded admirably the question from the whiner next to me who demanded, “What did I do wrong?!  This is awful!  I just can’t get this sleeve to work!!”  I was glad it was my day to simply keep drawing.

sketch of ballroom, Crocker Museum

“Hoop Skirt Settee”, pencil drawing by Kerry McFall

I moved to the historic ballroom of the museum after a bite of lunch in the cafe, and began to draw a Victorian settee designed to accommodate women like those of the Crocker family who wore hoop skirts or bustles.  Oddly enough, the public were actually allowed to sit on this one — go figure!  Another benefit of staying in one place so long: I got to hear several historical tidbits about the family and chuckle at people’s reactions as docent tours come through.

I would gladly go back to this museum on a weekly basis, but our stint as pet-sitters here in Hot North Central California is about up.  Cue Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride music!