Calling the Booth Western Art Museum a “treasure trove of opportunities,” Gayle Smith is delighted to participate in the venue’s online offerings in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A retired educator, the Cartersville resident serves as a docent for the venue and became a charter member with her husband, Charles, in 2003. Since the Booth temporarily closed its doors due to the COVID-19 crisis, the couple has expanded their creative talents through the Facebook Live! Drawing Lesson with Ms. Lynnette offering.
“My artistic abilities are limited,” she said. “In the past, designing meaningful bulletin boards, flower arranging, and cross-stitching were my art outlets. Since some Booth school programs require an art activity — a challenge for me — I thought online classes from Ms. Lynnette at the Booth were an opportunity to improve my drawing skills.
“Surprisingly, they have been fun, relaxing and a respite from the thoughts of the COVID 19 isolation. Ms. Lynnette offers detailed guidance and is reassuring about whatever one is drawing — mistakes, differences and all.”
The drawing lessons, which go live each Tuesday at 10:45 a.m., are conducted by the Booth’s education outreach coordinator, Lynnette Torres Ivey. While participants can send comments to Ivey as the lesson is occurring, the class also will be posted on the museum’s website, boothmuseum.org, and Facebook page afterward for people to view.
“Ms. Lynnette has chosen a topic related to Ms. Patty Dees’ weekly art and book selections to sketch in her online classes,” Smith said. “Topics have included sunflowers, a cactus, a cat, a boot and a horse. One of my favorites was the cat since we inherited a cat from our son, Paul. Its name is Louie.
“I sketched him twice, making him black and white — his realistic colors. The other was [an] Andy Warhol rendition using blues and golds for his coloration. In both, he sported a bow tie. Drawing relaxes, calms and helps the mind to reflect on more pleasant topics than COVID. It was fun, too!”
Situated at 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville, the Booth is known worldwide for its extensive collection of contemporary Western art. The 120,000-square-foot venue became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2006. The museum offers a variety of exhibit spaces, some of which include the Civil War gallery; Sculpture Court; a presidential gallery; the “Picturing America” photography gallery; and the interactive children’s gallery, Sagebrush Ranch.
“Because of the shutdown, the museum has had to cancel countless events and programming to keep our visitors safe,” Ivey said. “Despite this, the museum staff has been working diligently and collaboratively to transition to digital forms of engagement with our community.
“The director of education at the Booth Western Art Museum, Patty Dees, was the one who suggested offering weekly art lessons through the Facebook Live! platform. I was supportive of the idea immediately. As the education outreach coordinator, the core of my position is engaging with the K-12 community by bringing the resources, knowledge and opportunities of the museum to them at their locations. This essence of my programming is still present in a digital format.”
As Ivey noted, she still is reaching students beyond the walls of the museum, the only difference is “the way in which we are collaborating.”
“I have greatly enjoyed leading these live drawing lessons because they are a way for me to feel connected to the museum’s community during this time of social distancing,” Ivey said. “After an art lesson, I have had people send me pictures of what their drawings ended up looking like. It is so encouraging to see people take the lesson and make it their own. It is the best part of my week and gives me something to look forward to every Tuesday.
“My aim is to lead these lessons so that they are accessible for students of all ages. While the videos are geared towards a younger audience, I have participants of all ages with little to no artistic training sending me photos of their finished artwork. The goal is to practice and grow artistic skills and to have fun while doing it.”
Utilizing basic art supplies that participants can access at home, Ivey explains the piece of artwork and its ties to the Booth’s collection during her drawing process.
“I hope that the people who watch these online drawing lessons are encouraged to stretch their creativity and engage with the artistic process in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Ivey said. “When I teach art in classroom settings, I find that students tend to be critical and compare their artwork with other students.
“When you create artwork at home, you can create your artwork however you want without worrying if it looks as good as the person’s sitting next to you. There is a freedom to start over, to put it away and try again tomorrow, and to experiment in bold ways.”