Sketching, sculptures & savings – its mum & daughter day!

Mrs Siddons by Thomas Lawrence (Tate Britain)My husband is out of work at the moment.  Thanks to the spluttering state of the economy his last IT contract got cut short.  This means that a) he’s around a lot, b) he may be around a lot but he’s ‘busy’ not working (known as job hunting) and c) available to occasionally put the odd sock on a son who needs to get out to football camp 5 minutes ago.

I jest a little.  He really is quite flexible and available in short chunks. But sometimes it feels like I’m living with a mirage – he’s there but he’s not.  Those of you who’ve had husbands in this position will know what I’m on about…

 Anyway, one of the advantages of having a Husband About The House, is that I get to take my daughter out for the day whilst Little Brother is out kicking a football around in the snow for 5 hours.  Before you think this is a sketch of him, read on…..

I’ve realised that I have never given my daughter a whole day of my time, far from the madding crowds of school/homework/sibling/domestic demands.  Thanks to the wonderful bloggers Suzanne at 3childrenandit, and Michelle at Mummy from the heart, I’ve been reminded not just of the need to give our kids regular one-on-one time, but to plan these times in.  You know what its like. Best intentions are nothing without a plan!  Once they reach a certain age (I reckon its around 8, whenever their attention span lasts longer than a gnat’s) they really need proper chunks of time with a parent, even if it’s once a year.

We’ve always prioritised my husband taking her out for a few hours as he’s the one who sees less of them, but she needs time with me just as much. How could I develop a deep relationship with if the regular refrain of our relationship is ‘Time to get ready’, ‘Please can you…’, or “Hang on a minute, I’m just getting rid of the myriad pieces of tissue that snuck into the washing machine”?

So, I thought, where would Gregarious Girl like to go where Annoying Little Brother woudn’t  also enjoy, that wouldn’t break the bank, and wouldn’t be somewhere we’re I’m likely to slip into Mother With an Agenda mode?

Well, GG loves art and has been known to call herself ‘very crafty’….

Ah, ha, I thought. Got it. An art gallery!  Galleries are free (don’t you love the government for that?), you can bring a packed lunch, and we have a Family Rail Pass that gives me 30% off my extortionate ticket into London.


When I asked her if she liked this idea, she gave me a ‘sort of’ look followed up by “What do you do, there, apart from looking at paintings?” Umm, sadly I couldn’t find any gallery in London that had any decent kids stuff on mid week (really, London, I’m surprised at you), so yes, it would just be looking at paintings…..  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea… hang on, stick with your parental instincts.  Remember – we do get it right, occasionally…:-)

“Why not bring a sketch pad and pencils with you?” chirped my suddenly enlightened husband. Brilliant. Inspired.

And what an inspiration it was.  After struggling through a snow blizzard to get there (honestly, April, will you please sort yourself out), and dodging a spooky ‘installation’ that filled the entire central hall (again, London, this really isn’t good enough, it is school holidays) we settled down to wandering around the first room.  After 10 minutes of staring at po-faced, medieval aristocrats in exquisitely painted regalia, she asked “Why do all the men hold one glove in their hand, mummy?” If only I, or the tour guide knew – anyone?), and then promptly sat down in front of a floor-to-ceiling oil painting of a Mrs Siddons and started to sketch (see first photo of grand looking lady).

Sketch of Mrs Siddons, oil on canvas by T Lawrence (1804)Not the easiest thing to sketch, and this being a masterpiece and all, but she made a pretty good go at it, and was determined to finish it (in a way that reminded me distinctly of someone else…..).

I decided to sketch a marble bust of another aristocrat, then on moving on, we discovered a room full of beautiful sculptures that made her both blush, “Mummy, that’s a bit rude isn’t it?”, and go “Wow, that’s really lovely” in one breath.

She produced some fantastic drawings.  Take a look…..

Eve by GG

Eve by GG


Her fore-shortening is incredible for her untrained, young age. This is a stunning drawing of a stone sculpture of Eve by Thomas Brock. Ok she does look she’s eaten the entire tree of apples, but she’s captured so much else beautifully.




Sketch by GG of Boy at Play from behind

And whilst my boy was kicking a football on a frozen pitch some 25 miles north, we were sketching a sculpture of a remarkably similar looking chap. The photo at the top of this post is of a sketch I did, whilst this is what GG captured from another angle.

What was brilliant about this day was that we had a wonderful time being creative together, enjoying each other’s company, and avoiding that which so often goes hand in hand with enjoyment these days – consumerism (with the exception of coffee and hot chocolate).  Crikey. How did I manage that?

I know it won’t be long before she’s dragging me round Top Shop and I start to be the very image of my mother by complaining about the loudness of the music, so I’m going to relish these moments for as long as I can.

Mind you, I began to think twice when, after supper at home, she started sketching from memory the Boy at Play’s male parts…..! ( won’t show you that one!).

Sketch of bust of Edward H Bailey by G CanningPS If you’ve enjoyed my blog at all in the last 12months, would you mind taking a moment to vote for me in the Brilliance in Blogging awards? It closes on 12th April…..thank you!


5 thoughts on “Sketching, sculptures & savings – its mum & daughter day!

  1. I did more or less the same with my girls last week, only we did have the dad and little brother with us….dad came in handy for chasing after little one while me and the girls got on with some art work 🙂
    I love your girl’s pictures, she’s very talented 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, and for your compliments! Well done you on trying to do it with the little bro too!. Its a lovely thing to do, isn’t it? And an activity that we as mums really benefit from too, rather than just the child – makes a change doesn’t it?!

    • Its really worth doing. If you want to do a small one thats really exquisite doesn’t overwhelm, go for the Courtauld Institute on the Strand. Its a gem. National Gallery brill for the kids as there’s so many classics, and you’d love that too. Better nip there before you move! Sx

  2. This is lovely Siobhan and what an absolutely brilliant idea – my middle daughter would love an art gallery and sitting down to sketch would be even better. And it doesn’t cost money! Fab post and thanks for the mention 🙂

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