Most museums feature extraordinary exhibits, stunning sculptures, and amazing art, perfect for inspiring your students’ creativity and whetting their artistic appetites. But there’s inspiration to be found all around! Shake things up with our ideas for field trips designed to help students see everyday objects – in everyday places! – in a new light.
1. Botanical Gardens – Before you visit your local garden or nature center, give your students a refresher course in the basic anatomy of plants, trees, and flowers. Then encourage them to get up close and personal with various species, noting their unique structures, colors, and design. Bring cameras to capture subjects for later, sketch pads for quick studies, or easels and canvases for en plein air projects.
2. Aquarium – Take your students on an undersea adventure and open their eyes to the graceful, slow-motion movements of life underwater. Note the vibrant colors, tonal variations and unique patterns you see. Underwater works lend themselves nicely to watercolor projects and creating a new species of fish is a fun exercise for younger students.
3. Urban Art – From graffiti art to sculptures by local artists and spontaneous structural art, your city likely has urban art worthy of a walking tour. Discuss the pieces you’ll see ahead of time, then head out into the fresh air and try using reclaimed or recycled materials, mixed media, and more to create your own urban art.
4. Memorials and Monuments – Does your city display memorials or a monuments to a local heroes or legends? Conduct a group discussion around the choice of the memorial’s materials and subject matter, and then assign a free-form art project encouraging your students’ to share their personal expressions of heroics.
5. Historical Buildings – Bring your city’s history to life and inspire a bit of civic pride in your artists with a tour of a local historical building. From courthouses to post offices, most cities maintain several buildings with serious stories and history. After your visit, discuss other objects of local pride – foods, celebrities, natural features – and have your students design and draw a hometown coin that best represents the city’s notable features on the obverse and reverse of the coin.
6. Architecture – Draw your students’ attention to the details with an architectural study. Choose a local structure with a variety of ornate decorations, from wall niches to decorative corbels, ceiling medallions, patterned molding, and stair brackets – take lots of pictures! – then use them as inspiration for student-designed mandalas.
7. Place of worship – Conduct a study on symbolism with a visit to a place of worship. Take note of the decorative aspects of the facility–artwork, stained glass, and symbolic accoutrement—and assign an artwork depicting each student’s own unique symbolism.
8. Dance or Street Performers – From the graceful lines and elegant movements of a ballerina to the brusque, jarring jams of a local street performer, dance is a great way to get your students’ minds moving and dancers make a great study in motion.
9. People Watching – Pick a public place (could even be on campus!) and park your class for a period of good, old fashioned people watching! Train your students to study their subjects closely – faces, bodies, clothing, hair styles – then head back for a session of portrait painting, blending their favorite features into one fictional subject.
10. Walk on the Wild Side – Take a trip to whatever natural resource your city boasts. From shoreline to forests, mountains to desertscapes, the shapes, colors, and patterns found in nature are incredibly inspiring for an artist.
What are some of your favorite field trips you like to take with your art students?