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The Whitney sketching family tours, for families with kids ages 6–10,
explore current exhibitions through drawing. This hour long private tour takes place the hour before the Whitney museum is opened to the public. Kids along with their caregivers get to look closely at works of art, and create experimental sketches inspired by what they see. These tours are prefect for kids who already have the love for art, or their first time in a museum, being creatively introduced to art, on a more in depth approach.

Whitney Kids family tour

This months Whitney sketching tour is: Abstracting America by Stuart Davis

This month, we visited the exhibition Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, with my nieces who were in town from California. We learned how Davis was inspired by American culture and the vibrant rhythms of the city. At first the kids were asked to sketch what they saw in the painting House and Street, 1931 which represents the intersection of Front Street and Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan.

Whitney Kids sketching tour

I was very impressed what my son was able to spot in the painting vs what others spotted in the paintings, no ones were the same.Stuart Davis In Full Swing sketching tour

Next we were asked to look out on New York City from the Whitney windows, facing north east, and draw how we see the city.


Then we looked at another work by Stuart Davis called The Mellow Pad, 1945. We learned that the painting started out as a simple drawing of a city similar to House and Street, 1931 but through layers of color and sketching over many years, the painting turned into a completely different picture. Davis had a habit of using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions. We were given scraps of paper to add to our sketches of New York City to create color and texture, similar to the techniques used by Stuart Davis.


Here is my sons final project from the Whitney family sketching tour. He really had a great time and learned so much (even if he is making a silly face in this photo).

StuartDavis Mellow Pad

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing features approximately 100 artworks by an artist whose formal brilliance and complexity captured the energy and ebullience of popular culture and modern life. The exhibition is unusual in its focus on Davis’s mature work, from his paintings of consumer products of the early 1920s to the work left on his easel at his death in 1964, and in exploring Davis’s habit of using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions.

Open Studio family program for families with kids of all ages

When the class was over we made our way down to the Open Studio session. In the Open Studio families get creative in the Whitney’s Hearst Artspace. Families are invited to make their own art based on works in current exhibitions. Each week they offer a different art making project. The week we went the project was inspired by Première, 1957 where Stuart Davis does not paint the objects themselves as they are pictured, but instead paints their names in bold bright colors, similar to a television advertisement.

Stuart Davis In Full Swing WhitneyHere is what my son sees in words, from the display that is arranged in the Open Studio room. We could have spent the whole day in that room sketching and letting our creativity run wild, but the kids were eager to see the rest of the Whitney before it got to crowded.

Stuart Davis Open Studio WhitneyInformation on future family activities at the Whitney can be found HERE plus a fun Whitney Kids Summer Family Day is coming up on July 9th at 9:30-10:30 am where families get to explore Stuart Davis: In Full Swing and other family-friendly exhibitions. They will be offering tours, artmaking activities, and special performances by Jazz at Lincoln Center, click HERE for tickets.