Night at the (Cummer) Museum

I didn’t know what to expect when walking through the double doors of the Cummer Museum, the sun beginning to set behind me. Would the paintings come to life? Would I need to save the outside world from angry statues that are tired of living a life in stone and marble? I watched Night at the Museum the day before and took some notes, just in case.

Instead of statues dancing through the lively kids section, I found a peaceful studio full of easels and eager artists getting ready to draw with artist William McMahan. For the first 30 minutes of the class, McMahan sat in the middle of the room sketching the live models who sat in front of him. Students watched with furrowed brows, taking in everything the artist had to say and noting how he lightly stroked the paper with pencil. Once finished with the demonstration portion of the class, it was time for the other artists in the room to get to work.

The rest of the two-hour class consisted of McMahan walking around the space, offering advice and appreciating the work being put in. The energy was anything but critical as McMahan encourages mistakes, for art is about the journey.

As the mellow music played, the only other things audible were the pencil strokes and whispers of encouragement. By the end of the session, McMahan offered some last minute advice and tips on technique, urging those who came to the class to continue working on their pieces.

McMahan teaches an all-levels drawing class at the Cummer twice a month, and at $35 a class ($25 for museum members), it’s well worth it to not just to learn how to capture facial features and silhouettes but also the beauty of art itself. Whether you have never picked up a pencil or paintbrush in your life or are a more seasoned artist, this class is for you.

Thankfully I didn’t run into anyone who looked like they were from 2100 B.C., but this trip to the museum and McMahan’s class were anything but asleep. In fact, the energy from seeing artists happy to have created and learned something new, left me feeling more alive than ever.

About Ambar Ramirez

Flipping through magazines for as long as she can remember, Ambar Ramirez has always known she wanted to be a journalist. Fast forward, Ambar is now a multimedia journalist and creative for Folio Weekly. As a recent graduate from the University of North Florida, she has written stories for the university’s newspaper as well as for personal blogs. Though mainly a writer, Ambar also designs and dabbles in photography. If not working on the latest story or design project, she is usually cozied up in bed with a good book or at a thrift store buying more clothes she doesn’t need.