Emily Visits the Art Museum
1/15/08
By Juliana Carter


"Hurry up, Emily. Time to go." Today was the day Emily and her parents were going to the art museum. Emily quickly grabbed her watercolor pad, pencils and crayon box so she could work on her drawings in the car on the way.

Emily's mother, Mrs. Granger, had been taking an art class and wanted Emily to see the art and artists she had been learning about.

Emily liked to watch her mom as she painted. First, Mrs. Granger would pull her artist's smock over her head and tie it around her waist. Next, she would gather the different tubes of oil paints and squeeze out little dollops of paint onto her pallette. She would quickly dab her brush, mixing white with red to make pink, or red with yellow to make orange. The oil paints were thick and creamy, but Emily's mom warned her about getting them on her clothes. The stains did not come out.

Then there was a bottle of turpentine that Mrs. Granger would put out to clean her brushes. This made Emily's nose wrinkle. What a smell!

Sometimes Mrs. Granger would use her charcoal pencils and do quick sketches in her sketch book. Emily watched as her mother made quick circles and squares, shaded, then highlighted, and before long, the picture would emerge. A horse!

Art had become a new world for the Granger household, something to be explored and delved into.

Emily had her own artist's smock and would put this on so that she could paint alongside her mother. Mrs. Granger had given Emily her very own set of watercolor paints and brushes. Emily would put out her own bottle of water to dip and dab her brushes in so that she, too, could create her art. After her creation had been hung with clothespins to dry, Emily would proudly display her picture on the refrigerator. Emily thought that one day perhaps she might be an artist and sell her paintings along the Champs Elysees. This was a famous street in Paris Emily's mom had told her about.

As they traveled along in their car, with her parents chatting away, Emily continued with the sketch she'd been working on of the animals she'd seen at the aquarium on her school field trip. She drew the different fish, puffins, otters and sea lions.

"We're here," Mom said excitedly.

"Come on, Monkey." That was Dad's special name for Emily.

There was so much to see and do!

"What shall we see first?" asked Mr. Granger. The museum was divided into different halls which housed different types of art and artists.

"Let's see the Impressionists," suggested Mom. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters were Mrs. Granger's favorites. She loved Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, who were part of the Post-Impressionist School, and Claude Monet, who was a very famous Impressionist painter.

"Why are they different," asked Emily?

Mom explained, "The Impressionists painted outdoors, using natural light, and wanted to create a painting that looked very natural. The Post-Impressionists used color in a more dramatic way and weren't as concerned with realism. They liked to put their own spin on their art. One style isn't better than the other, it's all there for us to enjoy."

Emily thought about this and was a little confused.

"Let's go see for ourselves," Mom suggested.

Emily looked at Van Gogh's "Irises" and wondered at their beauty. The flowers and stems were vibrantly colored purple, blue, and green. The artist had used layers and layers of paint to create his masterpiece. This was much different than Monet's "Still Life with Flowers and Fruit" which was as smooth and realistic as a photograph. Emily had to look closely to be sure that it was really a painting.

The Grangers saw Medieval treasures, Roman and Greek artifacts, and Renaissance paintings. There were Mayan statues made of fired clay and intricately hand-woven baskets from Nigeria.

The collection of Modern art was really interesting. There was a very large painting by Jackson Pollock, a famous American Abstract artist.

"Mommy, it just looks like splattered paint."

"But, Emily, just look at the intricacy of the splatters and the layers. It's really amazing. The Abstract artists chose to focus on forms and colors. They would come up with art that was completely their own."

Mrs. Granger explained that everybody has their favorite types of art, but that art comes in all shapes and sizes.
"Art is all around us, Em, and we can be inspired by just about anything when we create art."

Emily decided when she got home that she would create a piece of Modern art when she found the right inspiration.

The next stop was the portrait gallery. There Emily saw grand paintings of people who looked important and rich. They lived in a time before cameras, so portraiture was the only way of recording what they looked like. Emily paused before a portrait of an elegant lady in a beautiful green dress. Her hair was pulled back in a severe bun. She looked so serious. Emily wondered if her dress was too tight and if she ever had any fun.

As they continued on, Emily gave a little jump when out of the corner of her eye, she spied Jean-Baptiste Oudry's "Clara," the rhinoceros. This was her favorite painting of all. The family had come upon a collection of paintings called "Oudry's Painted Menagerie." All of the paintings were of exotic animals. Life sized! The massive painting of Clara covered a whole wall of the museum. How spectacular! Emily and her parents read the placard to learn more about this magnificent menagerie.

They learned that the exotic collection belonged to King Louis the 15th of France. The animals lived in pens in the Royal Gardens of his palace, Versailles. King Louis commissioned the artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry to paint his animal collection. Emily imagined what it must have been like to wake up to the trumpeting of real elephants!

The trio walked, looked and learned until it was time to refuel.

"Who wants pizza?" Asked Dad.

"Let's go," said Emily.

They found their pizza -- pepperoni, of course -- at the outdoor cafe and ate their lunch on benches in the sunny courtyard. Brave pigeons and not-so-brave finches eagerly waited for any scraps they might find. Emily threw little pieces of crust to the art-loving birds and thought about painting them. Pictures of them, not the birds themselves!

After a bite to eat, the next stop was the children's section where future artists could create to their heart's content. There were art supplies of every kind imagineable. The nice woman who worked there suggested to Emily, "Why don't you draw a picture of what you liked the most today."

Emily was soon lost in her project.

Eventually, it was time to leave.

Reluctantly, Emily said goodbye to this magical place, but she would carry with her a rhinoceros picture as a wonderful souvenir of her latest adventure and plans to create her next masterpiece. Would it be Modern or Impressionistic? Anything was possible!

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