Tag Archives: National Gallery

Rain and more rain, sky and more sky

By Laura Grimes

It’s raining and the sky is pretty much a solid dull gray. Gray upon gray. Rain upon rain. End upon end. But the sky doesn’t have to be that dull.

The Pantsless Brother must have seen something different out his window. He sent me this note:

I’m looking out at the sky over the water as the evening fades and all I see is Turner.

Could he have been thinking of this painting?

"The Fighting Temeraire" by J.M.W. Turner, 1838, National Gallery London/Wikimedia Commons

The Fighting Temeraire by J.M.W. Turner, 1839
Oil on canvas
National Gallery, London

That brilliant expanse of sunset sky is saying goodbye to a famous warship that’s seen its last good fight and being carted off on its last voyage to be broken up. Broad, colorful strokes know their bigness and strikingly evoke a sense of loss. The canvas gives room to all that the sky has to say.

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Just for kids: Museums with a real draw

By Laura Grimes

One fabulous day recently at the National Gallery in London a whole class of schoolchildren wearing matching blue uniforms were sprawled on the floor drawing intently. They chatted and giggled quietly, but they were focused.

They attracted me like honey. I edged closer and watched them. Some of their drawings were just spindly stick figures. I watched them show each other their work and point to the giant painting they were studying.

A young man sat on a cushioned bench behind them and drew in a sketchbook. I thought he was with the group. A teacher chatted with him. And then she asked all the students for their attention.

She introduced the young man and asked if he would talk. I realized then he just happened to be there. He smiled to all the kids, leaned forward, turned around his sketchbook and held it up. Then a bit shyly but cheerfully he told them all about it.

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London, Part 2: The political shuffle

By Laura Grimes

A constant thrum of helicopters filled the air today. I know that sound, and when I hear it I look for it. It’s one thing when the helicopters are moving. It’s another thing when they’re hovering. It means something’s up.

The Pantsless Brother and I shared some van Eyck, Rembrandt and Turner together at the National Gallery and then he took off for Dublin to chase some Vermeer (seriously). After several hours he sent me a note asking what I did when he was gone and I replied that I had just posted this on Facebook:

Cool hanging outside 10 Downing Street today with protesters, tourists, black suits, reporters and police. It’s gotta be one of the weirdest political climates in British history since WWII — a hung parliament, mad party coalition negotiations that quickly flip-flopped, and a sudden change of tenants at the prime minister’s residence.

Here’s the biggest crowd I came upon:


I couldn’t get a closer shot with a better angle without risking being obnoxious or being in the middle of heavy vehicle traffic. (Now I wish I had done both.) However, just a little farther down the sidewalk I came upon a small group of people who were waiting patiently at an iron gate. It was the opening to Downing Street, otherwise known as where the British prime minister lives. This proved to be the more interesting spot, not that I saw much more than black cars with tinted windows and a security detail. The speeches came a few hours after I left. What was all the hubbub?

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