Shedd Aquarium Ocean Art Field Trip

Art Field Trip to the Shedd Aquarium

Originally we were going to lead kids on a field trip planned for the Art Institute of Chicago, Ping Tom Park murals, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.  However, having such a large group of kids and adults made the trip impossible so we changed it to an artful visit to the Shedd Aquarium.  Truly there couldn’t be a better place to get inspired by the colors and animals in nature.  I’m very excited to draw ocean animals with you!

Art Projects Inspired by Ocean Animals

Before the trip we’ll study a few ocean animals and learn live animal drawing techniques to practice at the musuem.   A few of the animals we’ll study in the workshop include penguins, octopus, jellyfish and green sea turtles.  Here is a link to reference photos and artist inpspiration we’re using for the ocean art workshop.   All the kids get a travel art kit including, pencils, eraser, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and a small sketchbook which will be taken to the museum.ocean collage and painting of fish with coral reef by Laura Lynne Art

Tips for Drawing Live at the Aquarium

Drawing moving subjects is very tricky and can be very frustrating.  Here are some tips to help.

  1. Study and practice drawing the animal’s anatomy ahead of your trip
  2. Practice drawing fast
  3. “Sketch your subject in multiple poses, switching between drawings when your subject moves.” – TinyDream
  4. Use your imagination or best guess to fill in the missing details.  It’s okay if it’s not perfect.
  5. Practice, practice, practice.  Go to the mall and draw people walking by, go to a park or sit in your yard and draw the animals you see.
  6. Some artists say you can take a photo in your brain by closing your eyes for a few minutes after looking at your subject.  Use that image as a reference.  (I haven’t practiced this technique yet, but give it a try and see if it works for you.)
  7. Use your watercolor pencils at the museum, then add water when you get home

Fun Games to Play at the Aquarium

  1.  Without looking at the name of the animal, use your creativity to think up a silly name for it, what it eats and where it lives.  Then, look at the real name and information for the animal.
  2. Being mindful of those around you, copy the movements of the animal.
  3.  Shedd Aquarium scavenger hunt
  4. Questions to ask:
    1. What is your favorite animal in this room/tank?  Why?
    2. What animal is your least favorite and why?
    3. If you could touch this animal, what would it feel like?  (bumpy, scaly, rough, smooth…)
    4. If you were safe in a boat on this ocean/river right now, what noises would you hear? (moving water, birds, wind in the trees…)
    5. Find where the animal lives on google maps.  How long would it take to get there by public transit or walking?
  5. Drawing games for the aquarium or bus ride:
    1. Without looking at the tank, have the artist sit or stand with their back to the tank.  Another adult or child will describe the animal to the artist using as many descriptive words as possible.  The artist tries to draw the animal only by the descritption.  Compare the drawing to the animal.  Were they close?
    2. Find the animal with the most vibrant colors.  Try to recreate those colors in your sketchbook by blending your colors.
    3. Try to draw a moving animal based on the tips above.  (This is really challenging, but do your best.)
    4. Design your own ocean animal or combine 3 or more parts of different animals you see.
    5. Do an ocean animal themed Exquisite Corpse drawing with a friend.  Here is a video explaining how to play this game invented by the surrealist artists.

Aquarium Field Trip Reminders:

Remember to use your inside voices and walking feet.  Stay close to your group.  Also, let’s be kind to the animals and fish by not tapping on the glass.  Bring along a lunch, drink and snacks or visit the food court at the museum.  The aquarium has an app you can download to find out more about the animals and access the map.  Here is a link to their website.

I hope you enjoy the ocean art workshop and trip to the Shedd Aquarium!  If you have any questions, please text me at 208-991-2178.



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