Another one checked off the life-long wish-list! This is the famous and magnificent Sagrada Família, the ongoing masterpiece of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. I love to sketch a cathedral. Of course this isn’t technically a cathedral, it is a “Basilica and Expiatory Church” – there’s no bishop, you see. It’s also only really half a church, because as you probably know it is not quite finished yet, stunning and unbelievably detailed though it is. It is over a century and a quarter in the making, entirely funded by donations, and naturally is a huge draw for tourists. It is expected to be finished by 2026, with a massive central spire still to be added. I quite prefer it like this. It is quite something to think that this will look really different the next time I go to sketch it. Finally however I have sketched it, this building I have always wanted to see and draw.
This was done on my last day in Barcelona, when my wife and I took the metro out on a bright Sunday morning. We found that lovely spot across from the pond looking up at the Sagrada Família, and as I sketched there were other urban sketchers from southern Spain also there capturing the view. Always nice to meet the Spanish sketchers, I’m a big follower of the various groups around the country, and learn from them a lot. Once they were gone, I was joined by a group of elderly Catalans; the old woman sat next to me chatted away to me in Catalan, tried to teahc me a few words, and they kept me in good company while my wife went off to take photos. This is the Nativity Façade, which pre-dates the Spanish Civil War, sketched in the Stillman & Birn ‘beta’ sketchbook.
I didn’t go inside this time. The queues are fairly enormous, and our time was limited. I’d love to in the future. There will always be another trip to Barcelona.
I just realized that when I posted the drawing of the Antiques Plus building on D St the other day I went on about it being Presidents Day, when in fact it was just Sunday. Presidents Day was on the 18th, and on that day I cycled over to the other side of the park near where I live and drew St.James’s Parish Church. This modern building has been on my “oh yeah I forgot about that place, I should draw it some time” list for quite a while. Well, not without good reason, it’s interesting enough but a lot wider than I expected. I sat in the sun and scowled at the wind but now I have marked it off. There are a few more churches and religious buildings to draw in Davis, though not of particular architectural significance. This one, while not exactly the Sagrada Familia, at least has an unusual spire, almost like a modernized chess piece. It almost looks like Burnt Oak Library has been given a new crown (admittedly that will only really make sense if you are from Burnt Oak, which while some of you are, most of you are not, but as Alan Partridge might say, you get the general idea). This was sketched in brown uni-ball signo um-151 pen with Cotman watercolours in a watercolour Moleskine, one which is very nearly finished.
Last year I illustrated the cover of the program for the 2011 Christmas Concert at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco’s Nob Hill. This year I had the honour to be asked once again, for the 2012 shows. This time I was asked to provide an illustration of the magnificent building from a different angle, that of the impressive choir on the western side. Last weekend, my wife and I went to see the Christmas Concert, a beautiful show, and I will show you the panoramic sketch I made in the next post. For now though I thought you might like to see a step-by-step of how I drew the cathedral, along with some detailed and highly useful lecture notes. Cathedrals are fantastic to draw. If I could spend my life just drawing cathedrals I would be one happy little (well, medium-sized) Scully.
Step One: draw some of the cathedral.
Step two: draw the rest of the cathedral
Here it is before adding the colour. It’s a good idea to scan it before you add the colour, because you might want to use it for a colouring-in-book, and you may get the colour completely wrong and accidentally paint it green or something.
Step Three: add some colour. Colour a little bit at a time. Then colour some other bits. Always paint the sky last, for no reason whatsoever. Scan it halfway through so you can say, I like it like that.
And…voilà! You have your cathedral. I am very pleased with it, and I think they were too. I was asked to make it evening time so you can see some of the colourful stained glass. I gave the evening sky a purple tint, to reflect the colours worn by the both the priests and the Men and Boys Choir. I must say, they are a really nice bunch of people at Grace, it’s one of my favourite spots in the city. Please visit them at http://www.gracecathedral.org/. In the next post, I’ll show you what I sketched there at the weekend…
We happened to be in Midtown Sacramento today, buying art supplies and stocking stuffers at the University Art Store on J Street. I decided to stick around and sketch a building I last sketched back in early 2007, the Parish Church of St.Francis of Assisi. It was a cool day in Midtown, and I had a long walk to the bus afterwards, but it was a good walk. I always forget how much I do enjoy Midtown Sac, how many great sketching opportunities and interesting little stores there are. I remember when I first discovered the area, my wife had dropped me off to check out that record shop The Beat one day and I was hooked, it became my favourite place to escape to from Davis (other than the Bay Area of course). I was amazed I had never been there before; I generally avoided Sacramento in those early days, having only seen its rougher edges, but Midtown was cool. On those long Sundays when my wife wanted me out of the apartment, I’d be there somewhere between J or K or L, sketching. This building was in fact the first thing I ever drew in Midtown, so when I stopped there today it felt like I was sketching an old, old friend. I don’t go to this area very often now, maybe a couple of times a year, but it’s an interesting area, and has well-stocked art stores, comic shops, record shops and a British pub – what more do you need?
Incidentally, here is the version I drew nearly six years ago… different angle, different light, different pens, very different days.
San Francisco: after climbing the excruciatingly steep Nob Hill, leaving the shuffling Tenderloiners behind, I sketched Grace Cathedral. Regular listeners will recall that I drew the cover for their Christmas brochure last year, and was fortunate enough to go and sketch at their Christmas show itself. It is an amazing cathedral, and with my current desire to draw cathedrals (I have been trying to practice by drawing from books) I was eager to return. It was windy up on that hill. I stood behind a newspaper stand and drew the choir end. I drew in my Moleskine and coloured with watercolour, except for the sky which was done in a new blue Pitt marker I just bought – I was trying it out for colour. Darker than expected! It’s a magnificent building from the outside, but epic inside. I don’t get many opportunities to sketch cathedral interiors from life, and believe me it is a completely different animal from drawing from a photo. It’s all about trying to show the magnificence which is all around you. I drew on larger paper than usual, my Canson Urban Sketchers 7″x10″ sketchbook. After the craziness of Market Street, it was so peaceful sketching inside Grace Cathedral. There was a piano playing, and after a while a powerful baritone tested his tonsils, while to my right silent folk strolled around in circles following the lines of Grace’s famous labyrinth, as I stood sketching by a large stone pillar. I’m not a spiritual or religious person, but I’ve always loved cathedrals, the immense old stone and bright stained glass and beautiful acoustics.
Oooh, you don’t get scenes like this in Davis.
This is the Cathedrale de Notre Dame, on the banks of the Seine in Paris. As if this magnificent building needed an introduction! At the end of a warm day full of sightseeing and playgrounds and puppets, we went to see Notre Dame in the late afternoon sunshine. Ever since I was a kid it was one of my favourite buildings; I visited there when I was about 12 or 13 with school and loved all the ancient cold stone and gargoyles and colourful rose windows. The grey pollution has all been scrubbed off now, and it glows in the golden early evening light. After some time playing in the sandpit next to the cathedral, my son went home for a pre-dinner nap with my wife while I stayed on to draw by the Seine. I stood next to those guys who draw all the portraits for the tourists (they seem to speak so many languages fluently) and drew this remarkable view. I think I have wanted to draw this for so many years now, so I savoured every moment.
Happy Easter! And finally, some sketches. I moved across town, a move which coincided with an extremely busy work period, all of which meant lots of tiredness and little time to sketch. Well yesterday afternoon, a week after moving in, I carved out some time to explore my new area of North Davis. After six years south of I-80 I am now looking at Davis from a different angle. This means I get to explore parts of town I never got around to seeing before. I started with the unusual building on the corner of Oak Avenue (not street as I said below) and Covell, part of the Our Faith Lutheran Church. It has a funny little lookout perched atop it like a crow’s nest. Well, why not? There is another one in the gardens, just sat there by itself. Mysteries of architecture.
More conventional is the main church itself, a little further down Oak. I drew the sign, then crossed the street to draw the building. There is the Moleskine spread below. Feels good to be back in the sketchbook! And there is a lot more neighbourhood to draw…
By the way, tomorrow (well it’s today now, Monday April 9th) is the fourth anniversary of petescully.com! (It is also seven whole years since the original one began, while sat in the basement of the Maughan Library on Chancery Lane) Happy blogiversary!
(And it’s also my little sister Lauren’s birthday too; Happy Birthday!)
Some more sketching from yesterday’s afternoon in Sacramento. Above is St.Paul’s church on J Street, in Midtown. I had thought about sketching the cathedral downtown, but decided in the end to do something a little smaller and homelier. I sat opposite, outside the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, and listened to the most recent Art Brut album (confirming my view that it’s really not as good as their previous ones). I sketched for just under an hour before moving on up J Street.
I ended up sketching this building above, which is home to the French Cuff Consignment boutique. They have one of these in Davis (everything in Sacramento has a double in Davis, it seems; I keep expecting to bump into the mirror-version of me, crouched over a moleskine) but it’s not in as cool-looking a building as this. A little sun peeked through the clouds giving some faint shadows so I drew those in.
Drawn on the second last day of 2011. If I don’t get around to posting my 2011 retrospective tonight, then Happy New Year everybody!
This year, I was given the honour of illustrating the Christmas Concert Series brochure of Grace Cathedral, in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighbourhood. Last Sunday, with my Mum who was visiting from London, I went down to San Francisco and attended their show ‘A Cathedral Christmas’, performed by the purple-clad Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. It was a surreal experience seeing so many people clutching copies of a drawing that I had done! My Mum, as mums naturally do, pointed out to a few people, “he did that!” After being introduced to the Dean of the Cathedral, we took our seats and listened to the amazing concert, and what a location! Immediately I got my sketchbook out – it’s not every day I get to attempt a cathedral from the inside. I intend to go back and practise some more! I drew during all the traditional Christmas music, including some pieces by Handel (I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but it was pretty good; I also learnt from my Mum that Handel lived in Edgware for a bit, so we were near-neighbours, a couple of centuries apart) (Good job he never went to Edgware School though, with a name like that he’d have had a pretty obvious nickname).
Many thanks to Bruce and Abby for this wonderful opportunity, and for inviting me to the show. Here’s the Grace Cathedral website: http://www.gracecathedral.org/. And here are the remaining concerts they have this Christmas season, click here. If you’re in San Francisco, I recommend it!
And Merry Christmas everyone! Just another week now, and last week I chopped down my first Christmas Tree (well I say ‘chopped’, I mean ‘sawed’) – there it is in the background of my photo above…
Davis Community Church, by Central Park in Davis. Drawn on a nice Sunday afternoon, while there was live music playing in the park behind me. The band were tecnhically very good, though I’m not sure about the choice of songs they played. They did play some cool stuff by Elvis Costello, but there was a fair bit of 80s rock, and when they played “You Saw the Whole of the Moon” all I could think of was that episode of Father Ted, when Father Noel (Graham Norton) was singing it dancing around that tiny caravan. Appropriately, I was drawing a church. I’ve drawn it before a couple of times, a couple of years apart each time.