Line at the Rijksmuseum

Before leaving Amsterdam, I spent a rainy afternoon at the Rijksmuseum. I think everyone in the city had the same idea because it was pretty crowded, especially in front of key paintings like the tiny Vermeers or the Van Gogh self-portrait, and most evident in the room with Rembrandt’s glass-enclosed The Night Watch, which is being x-rayed in advance of its restoration.

Lately when I visit museums I bring along a sketchbook and a few drawing tools. I try to check if working with wet media is permitted, and if not I draw in pencil or black line, adding colour later. I couldn’t find the info for the Rijksmuseum, so just to be safe, I drew with a brush pen and threw some wash on the sketches on my long flight home.

Drawing my favourite paintings and objects is a way to take the time to study them and observe details. Of course this was impossible in the really crowded areas where people were lined up four or five deep to catch a glimpse of an iconic painting like Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. But if you move away from the superstars, you can find a bench or a quiet space from which to draw, and that is how I made my way through the museum. And even though I may have missed seeing a few treasures from this rich collection of Dutch art and objects, what I did see, I appreciated more fully because I took the time to observe, read, draw and discover. There were many more things I could have added to this museum spread but I ran out of time (and room on my page), but I’m pretty certain they will be there next time I visit.

3 Comments on “Line at the Rijksmuseum”

  1. Hi Shari I was in your first workshop at Amsterdam (back right in funny hat in your photo). Betty Churcher was also a sketcher in art galleries, mainly while waiting for meetings in her role as an state art gallery director. Later on, as a pilgrimage to her favourite art works as her eye sight failed. She was allowed into galleries after hours to do this. Here’s a link to one of her books. There’s lots more info about her on Ms Google.

    Thanks for the workshop. I’ve been practicing on my holiday extension in Ireland. Deb (Australia)


    • HI Deb, thanks so much for writing and introducing me to the Betty Churcher. I had a look at her books but I can see that she merits further research on Ms Google. Have a great time in Ireland. You must be having a wonderful time sketching there, and hopefully you may even see a boat or two to draw. Shari


  2. Karen Ramsay says:

    These are lovely Shari !
    It seemed to make your visit a little more intimate.
    A very special museum indeed!


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