Museum at Home

24 May 2021

The Artist's Sketchbook

Leon Bakst (1866-1924), The Artist’s sketchbook, 1921, Pencil, Collection of Costas and Rita Severis Foundation

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Leon Bakst was a very famous Russian artist known for his spectacular sets and costumes which he used to design for ballet and theatre. He was passionate about antiquities and especially Greek ones, which he would use for inspiration for his work. He visited Cyprus around 1921 when it seems he was intrigued by Cypriot sculptures and drew 17 sketches in his notebook which are at the CVAR.

Activity one: The sketchbook

Did you know…

For artists to create a painting, a sculpture or anything else they usually start with a sketchbook, a drawing pad where they keep their remarks. Many famous notebooks of great artists have been saved and are very important in helping us understand better the artists and their sources of inspiration.

Observe the following pages from the artist’s sketchbook and think…

  • Where migh he have been when he made these sketches?
  • What was more interesting for him to draw?
  • What notes did he make next to his sketches?

2. The artists skitchbook - museum at home -  PNT-00043-03 Leon Bakst 1866-1924 Artists sketchbook of 17 pencil drawings. 1921 Pencil 13 x 11 cm.jpg

3. The artists skitchbook - museum at home -  PNT-00043-04 Leon Bakst 1866-1924 Artists sketchbook of 17 pencil drawings. 1921 Pencil 13 x 11 cm.jpg

4. The artists skitchbook - museum at home -  PNT-00043-06 Leon Bakst 1866-1924 Artists sketchbook of 17 pencil drawings. 1921 Pencil 13 x 11 cm.jpg

5. The artists skitchbook - museum at home -  PNT-00043-11 Leon Bakst 1866-1924 Artists sketchbook of 17 pencil drawings. 1921 Pencil 13 x 11 cm.jpg

6. The artists skitchbook - museum at home -  PNT-00043-15 Leon Bakst 1866-1924 Artists sketchbook of 17 pencil drawings. 1921 Pencil 13 x 11 cm.jpg

1. The artists skitchbook - museum at home - PNT-000430-01_Leon_Bakst_1866-1924_Artists_sketchbook_of_17_pencil_drawings_1921__Pencil_13_x_11_cm.jpg

If you wish, you could create your own “artist’s sketchbook”.

  • You will need a small notebook, a drawing pad or sheets of paper which you can join together, a pencil, a marker or anything else you like.
  • You could decorate the cover eg. with a collage to make your own special sketchbook.
  • In this pad, you can sketch whatever draws your attention, at school, at the park or anywhere else. Remember that to create your sketch you need to observe your object very carefully to the last detail.
  • You can use these sketches to later create a larger drawing!

We would love to see your sketchbooks at education@severis.org

Activity two: Love for antiquities

Did you know…

Leon Bakst appreciated Greek antiquities very much and they were a source of inspiration for his drawings. He spent many hours in great museums like the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Louvre in Paris where he observed the details on pots and sculptures and used some of their elements in his own art.

Observe very carefully the following statuettes and try to draw them like Bakst. The statuettes belong to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Activity three: Colours

Did you know…

Bakst had a great love for intense colours which were characteristic in the costumes and sets he created. He would use colours to display the changes in the mood or the tension in a scene or to show the emotions and character of the protagonists.

Generally, in design, each colour has its own meaning…

  • Red is for love, passion but also anger
  • Yellow is for happiness and enthusiasm
  • Orange is for energy and livelihood
  • Green is for balance, peacefulness and harmony
  • Blue is for calmness but also sorrow

Which colour would best identify your feelings at this moment?

What does each colour mean to you?

You can download Bakst's sketches and paint them using colours that relate to your feelings.

Drawing 1

Drawing 2

Drawing 3

You can send us your drawings at education@severis.org

Challenge of the week

Our challenge for this week is for you to visit one of the many archaeological museums in Cyprus and with a sketchbook and a pencil create some sketches while observing the statues. Of course, we will be waiting for you at the CVAR to see close-up Bakst’s sketchbook with his 17 sketches.

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