Sketching at the Bell Museum of Natural History

June 3, 2010

A great opportunity for a monthly sketch out—at the Bell Museum.

Above: Journal sketch of a Northern Goshawk specimen at the Bell Museum. Journal handmade with Gutenberg paper, 8 x 8 inches approx.

I'm thrilled to announce that the Bell Museum of Natural History on the University of Minnesota campus is going to begin a monthly sketch night on

October 7, 2010 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

These sketching evenings will be free with admission to the Bell ($5 per adult). (This is yet another great reason to join the Bell and save money!)

The official blurb on the event is:

An informal monthly (first Thursday) gathering for folks who like to sketch from nature. Not a class but popular local artist and teacher Roz Stendahl will offer pointers to those who want them. All skill levels are welcome. Experienced sketchers work independently or with like-minded artists sketching and sharing ideas. We'll suggest themes that fit Bell resources for those who'd like to focus on shared topics.  Bring your usual sketching materials or make use of limited paper and pencils available for sale from the Bell. Adult program (ages 12 and up with adult supervision). Some specimens are available for rent.

So mark your calendar now for First Thursdays at the Bell. You'll be able to hone your observational skills with the use of their great dioramas and resources. I'll post the upcoming themes as they are finalized—but remember, there's no need to work on the "announced theme." Come and sketch your favorite birds, animals, and plants.

  1. Reply

    Oh I’m SOOOOO jealous – I’d give anything to have something like this close to me! I probably do and just don’t know about it.

  2. Reply

    That’s an awesome idea!!!! I love it.

  3. Reply

    Sandi, I don’t know where you live, but I suggest you search about a bit, because if you live in a fairly large town or city there will be some sort of museum, even if it isn’t a natural history museum, where you can go and sketch. Sometimes art museums charge a fee to sketch in them, or require that you have an appointment, and also that you only use certain types of media. But it’s still possible, and if they have any decorative arts sections—furniture, pottery, clothing, etc. then there will be things you can sketch happily.

    If you live in a small town there might be a small historical society “museum” (I put it in quotes because it might be very tiny and not seem like a museum) which will have a wealth of things that you can sketch and which you can also learn about your location and its history from at the same time!

    And if you don’t have either of those types of things and are too far from a university campus (where you’ll often find museums with sketchable stuff) then you can always seek out antiques malls (those large stores with lots of booths by different vendors…) and sketch some of that stuff—I do this all the time when I’m out and about with a couple friends who like to go antiquing (I don’t buy antiques but that doesn’t mean I still can’t have fun).

    And check out life-drawing co-ops in your area. And if you are really in the middle of nowhere find a farmer who will let you come on his property and sketch his animals.

    I do all of these things by myself all the time and they are all quite fun. It’s also fun to get a small group (5 to 10) to go and do them, and have coffee afterwards.

    Good luck with finding something local that catches your sketching interest!

  4. Reply

    Gina, thanks, this is something I’ve wanted to set up forever. I sketch over at the Bell probably 3 to 4 times a month (sometimes more) by myself. I take my classes in nature journaling over there (so they can practice on still models). I’m so glad that the Bell is interested in reaching out to sketchers in this way and asked me to participate. I’m really looking forward to getting some more people hooked on one of my favorite sketching resources!

    • Carolyn
    • June 4, 2010

    Awesome! This is great, and I love your suggestions to Sandi. Roz, thanks once again for the inspiration. Hooray, sketchers!

  5. Reply

    Roz, I found you way of Wet Canvas and I just posted an entry for a class I will be teaching in TX.”Love Your Life”. Your journals are absolutely outstanding. Can you tell me the name of the Kraft page journal? Now I want one also.

  6. Reply

    Carolyn, thanks. I hope you are getting out to areas of “sketchability” in your environment too!

  7. Reply

    Thanks Nancy, I make my own journals (and currently am on hiatus from selling the blank journals). I’m not sure which journal you mean by “Kraft page journal.” If you mean the currently featured journal, I used Gutenberg for the paper when I made it. Other journal images in other posts typically have the paper type listed (unless I just talked about it in a previous post or two, so check there too). And you should be able to find it in the caption for whatever journal you are looking at. Or you can send me a link to a post that has the journal you’re referring to in it.

    I list reviews of “Commercially Bound Journals” that are available at most art stores and through catalogs on a PAGE (see the page list in the left column) of that title, if that helps.

  8. Reply

    Nancy, it just dawned on me that by “Kraft” you might be referring to the journals Ken Avidor uses which do have “Kraft” type paper in them. I don’t use that type any more (though I used them a lot during the 1980s and I can’t find the last one I used in 1998 it must have been packed away in the last storage group, I only have about 10 years of journals out on the shelves). I think they are called “Earth” something, or “environ” something. I recall they were made by Canson, but I could be mistaken. Wet Paint in St. Paul carried them and I think they still have them, you could write to them and ask. Daniel Smith used to carry them, but I don’t see them in their current catalog. You could write to Ken Avidor over at Urban Sketchers—Twin Cities (there is a link button to this site in the left column) and ask him. He still uses these, as I mentioned above.

    Be aware that the paper is lightweight and really best used with only ink or with pen and colored pencil—that type of thing. It’s not a paper that is well suited to wet media. I stopped using them because I moved away from using colored pencil in my journals and now mostly use ink and watercolor or gouache. You can use gouache in these commercially bound books that I’m writing of, but the pages buckle considerably, and because of the lightweight nature of the paper, there is the possibility of the gouache cracking.

    What Ken does with his is BRILLIANT! He uses the pen wonderfully of course, but his color pencil work, with only a few colors of pencil, captures all that is necessary and more.

    Hope you can find one if that’s the journal you’re talking about.

  9. Reply

    Thanks Roz – those are all good ideas! I’ve tried to find a natural history museum here (Nashville, TN) before but can’t find one. I’ve thought about calling one of the large universities (Vanderbilt University is here) but I wasn’t sure what I would call what I’m looking for. I do visit our local zoo and have some friends that I paint on their property. I like natural museums because I paint very slow and I’m not good with moving things – I like things to be STILL – so I usually paint from photos I take. But finding a place that has lots of stuffed dead stuff would be great :)!

  10. Reply

    Sandi, just forfun I googled “Natural History Museums in Nashville TN” and got to the following

    There are a lot of music related museums as one would suspect in your area, but the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art looks promising for plant drawing subjects (and they have classes!).

    There are a lot of other museums that house what sound like interesting historical artifacts, so they would be fun to visit and sketch at too.

    I’ve sketched things like displays of buttons, Native American clothing, Civil War medical devices, household tools and implements. They all offer interest and practice.

    On the Map you’re not that far from St. Louis, Missouri and they have a wonderful zoo (and yes they animals move, but they do return to positions) and a botanical garden.

    You might also check out Memphis, Chattanooga, and other places like that and find sites to go for a weekend trip—drive, sketch, drive home.

    And if you’re really adventuresome there’s the Field Museum in Chicago which could be a great destination for a longer family driving trip!

    Good luck finding great sketching places. And don’t forget to find farmers in your area!

  11. Reply

    Sandi, and others looking for a natural history museum in their area might like to check out this link I just found

    For Sandi in TN they list 3 natural history museums to check into, though none in Nashville—one is in Oak Ridge, one in Knoxville, and one in Pigeon Forge. Don’t know where they are in relation to you Sandi, but again, they would make possible destinations for the weekend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Cookmode

Pin It on Pinterest