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Virtual Family Day: Mark-Making

Everyone wants to make their mark on life. Learning to express yourself on paper is one way to do just that. Explore many ways to draw, paint, and make your own mark. Along with the many mark-making exercises this month, this PDF offers more drawing exercises.

Drawing without a Pencil

When you think of drawing, you might assume you need a pencil. There are many types of drawings that don’t need a writing utensil at all. You can rip the paper with your hand. This is a great way to make an abstract pattern, but you can also make something that is representational. Scissors give you the same effect but with cleaner lines. You can also use tape to make lines. Tape drawings can be geometric, but you can also mold the tape to make curves. Finally, tracing objects or drawing shadows can create an abstract drawing. All these methods are wonderful ways to be creative without the fear that you can’t draw. After all, we made multiple drawings and there wasn’t a pencil around.

What do you need? Start with what you have. Drawings are about making a mark on a surface. A smooth rock can be pulled through sand to make a drawing. 

Try This: Spend the week making a different pencil-less drawing each day. At the end of the week, explore what you made? Which ones did you enjoy making? What did you think about your drawings? 

Collection Connection:

Arthur Secunda (New York, 1927 – ). Night Bird, 1975. Gift of Mr. Murray R. Bowes 1975.34

Arthur Secunda is well known for his torn paper compositions. He uses this nontraditional fine art media to create landscapes, portraits, and abstract compositions.

  • Explore Night Bird.
  • Have you ever see a bird like this?
  • If this bird would flap its wings, how would it look? Sound?
  • Are the feathers realistic? Explain your answer.

Drawing Together

Drawing is often a solitary hobby. But, creativity can be expanded through collaboration. Drawing alongside someone can be a nice way to improve your skills, like if you both draw the same object. You can learn something new about your drawing partner. Spend time sketching them; and let them take a crack at drawing you. Drawing games are fun. You can work together on a drawing, hiding your half until the reveal. You can also make lines for them to complete into a finished drawing. Or you can work together to draw something out of your shared imagination. Drawing is a nice way to spend time together. 

What do you need? Paper, some markers, and a friend. 

Try This: Explore how your drawings look different when you pair with different people. Try the same exercises with paint instead of markers. Talk to your partner about their feelings about these exercises. How do those compare to yours? 

Collection Collection:

Gilbert and George (1943 and 1942 – ). Attacked, 1991 Museum Acquisition Fund and Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media 1994.22 a-u

Gilbert and George have been making art together for 50 years. They’re well know for their large-scale photographs that blend self-portraits with bright objects and colorful backgrounds. Imagine making an artwork with your best friend about your life. What would be in the image?

Drawing a Mess

Drawing shouldn’t always be clean. Turning a mess like a spot or a splatter into a drawing can help you move outside your comfort zone. Combining watercolor and ink is a nice way to explore line and color. Taping off parts of the paper can create a resist, and no worries if your paper rips a little. A mess can be beautiful too. 

What do you need?: Gather paint and/ or ink, brushes, pens, washi tape, and a smock. You might also want to have some napkins on hand. 

Try this: Give yourself permission to get messy. Keep pushing yourself to get even messier with each drawing. What does it feel like to push past your boundaries?

Collections Connection:

Matt Phillips (New York, 1927 – ) Girl In Green II, 1972. Gift of William Zierler 1975.13

Monoprints have aspects of painting and printmaking. Like painting, each image is unique. However, in monoprints, the artist makes the image on a plate, places a sheet of paper over the image, and then applies pressure. If you’ve ever made bubble wrap prints, these are monoprints. Matt Phillip’s print shows the immediacy common in monoprints. The artist was focused on expression instead of showing fine details.

Drawing Big and Small

Drawing is a lifelong hobby. Most of the time you might work a certain sized paper. If you really want to stretch mix the paper size up. Drawing very tiny can help you focus on each dot and line. Drawing very big can help you loosen up your lines. 

What do you need?: Large markers and a big roll of paper and fine markers and average-sized paper. 

Try this? Here are some ways to draw big and small.

Collections Connection:

Keiko Minami (Hirokawa, Japan, 1911 – 2004, Tokyo, Japan). A Girl, 1961. Gift of Mayuyama & Co., Tokyo 1961.67

How large would you imagine this work to be? Look at the details in the image. Scores of lines and dots come together to make the figure and the bird. This arresting composition is only 2 1/4 in. x 1 1/2 in. Surprised? Can you make a stamp-sized work that feels monumental?

Collection Connection

Raphael Gleitsmann (Dayton, Ohio, 1910 – 1995, Akron, Ohio). Untitled
[Sketches of France]
, c. 1944-1945.Gift of Mrs. Louise Faysash 1996.34.1-51

Raphael Gleitsmann drew these quick pen drawings when traveling in Europe. Neither sketch is detailed, but they are realistic.

Family Days are made possible by PNC with additional support from The Kathy Moses Salem Philanthropic Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, The R.C. Musson and Katharine M. Musson Charitable Foundation, and the Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation.

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Morning Train

Morning Train, Thomas Hart Benton, (Neosho, Missouri, 1889 – 1975, Kansas City, Missouri), 1943, Lithograph on paper, 11 7/8 in. x 15 3/4 in. (30.16 cm x 40.01 cm), Bequest from the Irene and Emile Grunberg Collection, 1989.46

A tall man in a long coat and a flat cap embraces a woman on a station platform as a train approaches, billowing thick black smoke which frames the couple’s faces. A third figure, perhaps a station attendant, seems to hurry them along. This print’s alternative title, Soldier’s Farewell, confirms the gravity of the scene.

Thomas Hart Benton is known for colorful paintings, energetic prints, and expansive murals depicting historical events. As a prominent participant in the Regionalist movement, he portrayed scenes of rural America in a manner that appears visually stylized yet reflective of everyday reality. Rather than compose Morning Train from solid shapes, the artist created a dense array of thin, curving lines. Even in this melancholy and forboding scene, Benton’s style generates a pervasive sense of motion and liveliness that is common among his works.

Though Benton only shows three figures, do you sense that many other people had similar experiences during World War II? What about this print informs your answer? Which features of the picture help to subtly tell you more about these people and the time and place in which they live?

Asked in 1935 whether the future of American art would lie in the Midwest, Benton responded: “Yes. Because the Middle-West is, as a whole, the least provincial area in America. It is the least affected, that is, by ideas which are dependent on intellectual dogmas.” In the same interview, he went on to describe Midwestern artists as daring risk-takers, independent thinkers, clear communicators, and hard workers. Through his work and his words, Benton was indeed one of the Midwest’s greatest artistic champions. It is no coincidence that his soldier bids farewell not from a crowded dock on the east coast, but from an area of hills, plains, and sparse population—this is the side of American life that Benton found most compelling.

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MuseumGames: Word Find

Locate the given words in the grid, running in one of eight possible directions horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. There may be an unused word or a message hidden another way to discover related to the puzzle.




MuseumGames are made possible by PNC with additional support from Acme Fresh Market, the Kathy Moses Salem Philanthropic Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, The R.C. Musson and Katharine M. Musson Charitable Foundation, the Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation, and the Charles E. and Mabel M. Ritchie Foundation

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Relief Podcast: Episode 10: Joy

This weekly podcast brings listeners joy and comfort for these uncertain times.

The Akron Art Museum’s staff shares insights from their own lives combined with conversations about the collection and interviews with regional artists and musicians.

Join us every Tuesday.

Listen on soundcloud here.


This week the topic is Joy. Seema and Gina talk about the fleeting nature of joy and where they’re finding joy in this challenging moment.

Deep Dive with Reggie: “Landscape with Yellow Clouds,” William Sommer

Reggie talks about how William Sommer was inspired by artists like Henri Matisse, who used color to capture the emotions of his subjects.

Landscape with Yellow Clouds, William Sommer, (Detroit, Michigan, 1867 – 1949, Northfield Center, Ohio), c. 1915, Oil on composition board, 24 in. x 30 in. (60.96 cm x 76.2 cm), Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. William J. Laub, Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Reed II and Mr. J. Frederick Seiberling, 2004.59

For more information about Fauvism: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/fauvism/  To see more works by William Sommer in the museum’s collection:

Shop Talk with Shane Wynn

Shane Wynn is a photographer, splitting her time between photojournalism and fine art photography. Her work brings attention to other Akronites, like herself, who proudly represent the local and global communities. Wynn has been a major asset to the Akron Art Museum— creating visual storytelling of exhibit openings and once-in-a-lifetime experiences like Nick Cave’s HEARD last summer. Currently, however, she’s not in Akron. Wynn is on a 9 month road trip across the United States with her family, as a way to both document the times and conquer a life-long dream. Tune in to hear Wynn talk about this new project, as well as her love of Akron and of portraiture. 

Instagram: @shanewynnphotography

Website: https://www.shanewynn.com

Where the Wynns Take You project: https://www.patreon.com/wherethewynnstakeyou

Relief Podcast Music

Jordan King is a multi-instrumentalist based in Kent, Ohio. Through his music project, Swell Tides, he has worked with Akron Recording Company and Electric Company Records. His work has been featured in the Devil Strip, Cleveland Scene, Akron Recording Company’s Where the Hell is Akron, OH? Vol. 2. Find Swell Tides on Bandcamp and Spotify, and stay in tune with upcoming shows on Instagram @swelltides

Relief Podcast is made possible with support from the Ohio Arts Council.

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AAM Mad Libs Art & Ale Edition

You can play AAM mad libs with your friends or by yourself. Here’s how to play: Creatively fill in the list on the next page with whatever words you like, then transfer your list to the blanks in the story. Finally, read the story from start to finish and enjoy your silly creation! Be sure not to peek at the story until you’ve chosen all of the words to complete it.

Helpful Reminders!

Adjective: Describes things or people
Examples: crazy, short, annoying, messy, fluffy, brave

Noun: Person, place, or thing
Examples: cell phone, spider, home, father

Action Verb: An action
Examples: run, kick, hunt, jump, swim

Verb Ending in “ing”: An action in the present
Examples: running, kicking, hunting, jumping, swimming

Past Tense Action Verb: An action that happened in the past
Examples: ran, kicked, hunted, jumped, swam

Exclamation/Interjection: Expresses a strong emotion
Examples: Oww!, Wow!, Yay!, Yikes!

MuseumGames are made possible by PNC with additional support from Acme Fresh Market, the Kathy Moses Salem Philanthropic Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, The R.C. Musson and Katharine M. Musson Charitable Foundation, the Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation, and the Charles E. and Mabel M. Ritchie Foundation

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