Continuing our trek of art venues in Washington, D.C. in this blog...Washington is full of museums as everyone knows, and we visit as many as possible on each visit, but we have only scratched the surface.
In addition to the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden, we also had two other items on our list of ‘want-to-see.’ They were a visiting exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery (8th & F Sts. NW) and the nearby National Building Museum (401 F St. NW).
We had visited the National Portrait Gallery on a previous visit and spent an afternoon looking at the official portraits of each and every president from G. Washington to G.W. Bush. That in itself was worth the visit, but it’s only a fraction of artworks on hand at the museum, which also houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Needless to say, there is a lot to look at, and it will take many return visits to see the whole thing. But that day we came to see an exhibit of Ansel Adams’ photography and Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. If you read this blog, you know I am a big fan of Georgia O’Keeffe and other artists from New Mexico. I am familiar with most of her work, and some of the best (my opinion) was included in the exhibit. Many were on loan from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, and which I had seen on a visit there. But several were from private collections, including oils of the hills around her Ghost Ranch home and her floral pastels, that I had not seen. Her landscapes continue to inspire. Some of the best of the photographs of Ansel Adams’ collection were interspersed with the O’Keeffe works so that you got a feel of what Southwest art was about in the first half of the 20th century. I don’t know if the exhibit travels anywhere else, but if it comes to your area, go see it.
Next on the list was the National Building Museum. It was just down F St. a couple of blocks. This may be one of those museums in Washington that you think you’ve heard of, but aren’t quite sure. That’s the way I was. Turns out it was actually renovated in 1987. It was originally the U.S. Pension Bureau Building from the mid-19th century, and I think I heard it was used as a union hospital during the Civil War, but I could be wrong. Anyway today it’s a beautifully restored building/museum dedicated to buildings and architecture. The main feature is the huge atrium that makes you say "wow” when you enter. The museum houses collections and exhibits, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and on the buildings of Washington itself (Washington: Symbol and City). The day we were there, an exhibit of student artwork on the revitalization of an old Washington neighborhood was on display, which shows how the museum interacts with current events. You’ve probably seen this museum and didn’t know it—it’s where the annual Christmas in Washington program is televised. You can’t miss the HUGE columns in the atrium, which is Today’s Image.
In the Studio
I guess I’m in productive mode this week. Since last blog I painted an acrylic from a reference photo that I’ve been wanting to do. It’s of the surf somewhere in the Caribbean with the crashing waves in the foreground and a view of the surf receding to the horizon. I used Reeves Cerulean Blue, Amsterdam Sky Blue Light, Van Gogh Greyish Blue, Fundamentals Cadmium Blue Green Light Hue, Liquitex Basics Light Aqua Green, Grumbacher Payne’s Gray, and Winsor & Newton Galeria Titanium White as my palette. I roughly sketched in the horizon and foreground waves, then started mixing the colors to the reference photo. I painted the foreground waves in bright titanium white, the mid-ground in light bluish-green, almost turquoise, and the horizon and sky in a light grey with aqua and white clouds. I like it and plan to finish it with a gloss varnish.