Whenever you go a place like the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery or Tate Britain, you'll always find an artist sitting in the gallery with an easel on his/her knees, copying down a work of art on the wall. I've always thought you needed to be quite brave to do that, because you know full well that every tourist will be walking past having a nosey look at what you're doing.
Well... how about doing it in a group instead? With an actual artist walking around, giving you some helpful tips and pointers?
The National Portrait Gallery puts on regular drawing sessions every Friday night, open to all skill-levels, from complete beginners to accomplished artists. They even provide a few basic materials to get you started. You will find that a lot of people bring their own sketchbooks and materials, though, because they prefer to use their own equipment -- some of them even draw their pictures on an iPad, a la David Hockney.
The session is usually held in a different room every week, so you need to check the sign in the main entrance to find out where it is. It will begin with a short introduction at 6.30 PM, but you are free to drop-in (or out) whenever you like. You don't have to attend the whole event -- you can stay for ten minutes or two hours. Of course, you might like to get there nice and early so you can have a walk around the entire gallery first (which is free).
Craig has never attended this actual event (he's totally useless at drawing), but he has written a review of the National Portrait Gallery which you might like to read before you go. You can also ask a question about Drop-In Drawing on the forum.
Guest – “I'd love to drop in and try to draw one of the famous portraits in exhibition. Please I need more information Thank you, Sylvia”
Admin – “What information do you need? If all you want to do is go in with a sketchbook and sit and draw a particular painting, then you can do that anyway -- you dont need to go to this event”
Craig’s review of National Portrait Gallery – “The National Portrait Gallery is probably my favourite gallery in London because it appeals to history lovers as well as art lovers. It's all about the sitters, not the painters. Admire the people, not the paintings. But that's not to say that the paintings aren't good, because they are -- they still have pieces by Hockney and Holbein, etc. -- but if they need a pictu… continued”
Thomas Gainsborough’s Family Album – 22 Nov 2018 to 3 Feb 2019 – 'Gainsborough's Family Album' collects together fifty works showing the family life of 18th-century artist Thomas Gainsborough.
Elizabethan Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver – 21 Feb to 19 May 2019 – The Elizabethan Treasures exhibition brings together many of the best miniature paintings from the 16th and 17th-century
Martin Parr — Only Human – 7 Mar to 27 May 2019 – An exhibition by one of Britain's best-known photographers - Martin Parr - revealing what Britons are like following the EU referendum
Cindy Sherman — National Portrait Gallery – 27 Jun to 15 Sep 2019 – A forty-year retrospective of Cindy Sherman's entire career, including her ground-breaking series Untitled Film Stills
Poster Girls — A century of art and design – 13 Oct 2017 to 1 Jan 2019 – Poster Girls celebrates the work of female designers who worked for London Transport over the last 100 years
Sir Richard Wallace — The Collector – 20 Jun 2018 to 6 Jan 2019 – The Wallace Collection's new exhibition will highlight the contributions made by the museum's founder, Sir Richard Wallace.
Magic Realism — Art In Weimar Germany – 30 Jul 2018 to 14 Jul 2019 – Magic Realism is an exhibition of paintings created during the Weimar Republic years, between World Wars I and II.
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
If you enjoy National Portrait Gallery then you might like to visit Courtauld Gallery (you can walk it 10 mins), National Gallery (you can walk there in less than 1 min), Royal Academy of Arts (walk it in 12 mins or catch the tube from Charing Cross to Piccadilly Circus), Tate Britain (walk it in 26 mins or catch the tube from Charing Cross to Pimlico) and Wallace Collection (walk it in 26 mins or catch the tube from Charing Cross to Bond Street)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans