Getty teacher Jennifer Li gathered her group of four families around her and told them that they would be seeing something silly.
"Most of the art here at the Getty is pretty serious," she said.
But, indeed, the self-portrait of French artist Joseph Ducreux, painted sometime before 1783 is pretty silly, with the artist decked out in a red coat. He was yawning and stretching.
Li was leading one of the Getty's "Family Art Stop"—a quick tour featuring one of the museum's works of art, geared toward families with school-age and younger members. The tour features a family-friendly explanation of the work that features a few activities that families can work on together.
Li invited the children and their parents to stretch like the artist was, then had them make silly faces for each other, explaining that what Ducreux was trying to do was understand better how to the paint the different expressions of the human body. Then the families and children were given paper and crayons to make their own silly self-portraits.
Carolyn Quetzal, of Tarzana, brought her 7-year-old daughter Merista, and their neighbor Dylan Massey, age 8, partly because it was Quetzal's birthday and partly because she tries to do similar activities with her daughter on vacation.
"We thought we'd do something fun-ducational," Quetzal said.
Merista threw herself into the activity, demonstrating her funny face for the families, and then showed off her art project.
Li said that her goal with a "Family Art Stop" is to engage the children with the art.
"It's just to give the kids a good impression of the museum," she said.
She concedes that in a half-hour program, it's a little hard to find something for every member of the family.
"I am catering to the kids," she said.
But, as happened with the Richmond family, Grandfather Alan Richmond, of Simi Valley, didn't sit on the floor with his three grandchildren, he did sketch them as they drew their self portraits. The children were visiting with their parents from South Jordan, Utah. Mom Karey Richmond said that the group had come because she teaches art to her children, James, 11, William, 9, and Katelyn, 6.
"We wanted to see some of the artists we've been learning about," she said.
Mark Barreras, who had brought his two sons, Sebastian, 6, and Diego, 3, and his niece Jacinda Favela, 8, said that the kids seemed to really enjoy the activity.
"Plus they're all on vacation and they needed something to do," he said.
Li pointed out that "Family Art Stop" is typically a weekend activity at the museum, but during the winter break, the museum will feature the program at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays through Dec. 30. The activity is free, but does require signing up at the museum.