Washington DC Sketchbook, 2007, Part One

National Sculpture Garden (larger)

I started a day of sketching in Washington D.C. recently in the National Sculpture Garden, a relaxing place with fountains and plenty of shade trees. Perhaps an odd choice for the US National Sculpture Garden, one of the works is an original Paris Metro gate. There is even an entire café building designed to match! I love the organic, otherworldly lines of these gates, and was happily surprised to find it here. [cont. below]

Thinker on a Rock, Barry Flanagan, 1997 (larger)

sketch_paris metro gate
Paris Metro Gate, Hector Guimard, 1913 (larger)

Untitled, Alexander Calder, 1976 (larger)

Capricorn, Max Ernst, 1964 (larger)

I then moved on to the National Gallery of Art. Sketching is allowed in pencil only so I added the ink and color to these drawings later on. The Calder Mobile is huge, hangs in a large light filled space, and moves ever so slowly. Fantastic.

The Ernst sculpture sits in the same atrium. Although I liked it immediately, through the process of drawing it I really “got it” so much more. They say that drawing in a museum can greatly facilitate observation and now I understand why. The little details and manner in which this piece is so completely stylized are wonderful. And witty: I was laughing out loud as I drew it. One group came by and pronounced: “it is ugly, we can’t believe that is art, we wouldn’t take it if they paid us”. How original. I however, would love to have it in my front yard and it would look great there too (hint, hint, National Gallery 🙂 ).

All posts from this Trip:
     Planes and Trains
     Washington DC Sketchbook, Part One
     Washington DC Sketchbook, Part Two
     New York Sketchbook, Part One
     New York Sketchbook, Part Two

18 Responses to “Washington DC Sketchbook, 2007, Part One”

  1. Bill Says:

    These are really great and remind me of what great city Washington DC is for art. I haven’t been there for years but the Hirshhorn was my favorite but there are so many really wonderful museums in DC and your drawings are spectacular, as usual.

    Thanks so much for sharing your trip!

  2. janey Says:

    What wonderful travel sketches. I hope you do another travel zine again. And my favorite is definitely the Thinker. He so serious.

  3. alison Says:

    What a productive sketch crawl. I too, particularly like the Thinker and Capricorn.

  4. Emma Pod Says:

    These are all such lovely sketches. Beautiful colors and compositions. I love your style.

  5. martha Says:

    Thank you all!

    Katherine: I don’t know if the NGA supplies stools: good question. I didn’t see any other artist’s there. A few days later when I was at the Met in NY I saw folks on stools and even a whole class drawing sculptures. I did some sketches there too which I’ll post soon.

  6. Terry Banderas Says:


    Your work and style is so nice and easy to look at. I enjoy all of your posts.

  7. Mariana Says:

    These are such gorgeous sketches! Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself too 🙂

  8. gabi campanario Says:

    hi martha, we lived in the DC metro area not too long ago, these are great sketches that bring back so many good memories, i loved taking the metro and going to the National Gallery of Art and have sketched there some times. there’s nothing like letting your hand draw a work by the masters, whether a sculpture or a painting, it’s one of my favorite things to do when I go to a museum

  9. Katherine Says:

    Super sketches.

    I so enjoy sketching in museums as well. Do they have sketching stools in the museum at the NGA?

    I recommend coloured pencils for sketching in galleries – they don’t see you as a problem and can get colour down while there.

  10. Gillian Says:

    Hi Martha – thanks for your kind comment on my blog.

    It’s great to ‘meet’ you and discover your wonderful sketches. You have a refreshing and relaxed style. I shall return often. xxx

  11. Ronell Says:

    Wonderful sketches as always, the garden being my favorite, I also love your plane and train sketches..they’re just so good!

  12. Jana Bouc Says:

    If those sculptures are half as wonderful as you’ve drawn them in must have been a great day. I adore the Thinker as a bunny and Capricorn!

  13. suzanne buchanan Says:

    I love all these sketches, but especially the Max Ernst sculpture. It’s stylization, as you noted, is wonderful, which in turn, lends itself to a beautiful stylized drawing.

  14. petescully Says:

    i really like your line styles and colour scheme

  15. casey Says:

    I always love your sketches, Martha, and these are wonderful as usual. Your museum sketches especially communicate so much more than a photo of the work would – and for you those pieces will always be like old friends.

  16. carole Says:

    These are great. I love the Thinker, and Capricorn. I totally agree that sketching in a museum makes you really look at things properly. I’d rather spend my time sketching 3 things and seeing them properly, than try to look at everything and see nothing.

  17. Heather Says:

    Oh I love your sketching. I wish I had the talent to add these sorts of things to my own site, but my artistic endeavors have generally been less than impressive!

  18. lin Says:

    Martha! These are fabulous!! What terrific pieces of DC you’ve chosen to do — and do so well!

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