Hopper Drawing: Notes For A Painting
Oct 15, 2013

Chalk art on paper by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Study for Rooms for Tourists, 1945. Fabricated chalk on paper, 10 3/8 × 15 15/16 in. (26.4 × 40.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.221

Edward Hopper sketched from life or from what he called the fact—he often made preparatory drawings with written notes about light and color which then informed his paintings. During one of Family Program’s last Sketching Tours in Hopper Drawing, kids and parents viewed Hopper’s Room for Tourists (1945). In his study for the painting, Hopper described the “dark greens” of the windows and doors of the building, indicating where objects were “in shadow” and describing the different types of light and color as “cooler” or “warm.”

The painting Rooms for Tourists by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Rooms for Tourists, 1945. Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 × 42 1/8 in. (76.8 cm x 107 cm). Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903

Families were asked to create their own sketches of the shoes and socks of the educator teaching the tour, and then carefully annotate their drawings as if they were taking notes for a painting. They wrote detailed, descriptive notes about the different shades of colors they saw—for example, devil red, clown red, sunshine yellow, pumpkin, and midnight black.

Drawing of a red shoe

Annotated drawing of red shoes and yellow socks, September 2013. Photograph by Billie Rae Vinson

Families were encouraged to take their drawings home and use them to create a painting. One of the fathers took a picture of the shoes with his cell phone. A mother asked whyHopper chose to draw rather than use photographs to help him create his paintings? The group discussed the benefits of drawing something directly as opposed to taking a photograph where color and light are captured in a different way. One kid said that taking a photograph is a bit like cheating, “because you are not drawing it with your own eyes.”

A fond farewell to Hopper Drawing which is on its way to the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas.

Find out more about the Whitney’s Family Programs.

By Billie Rae Vinson, Coordinator of Family Programs