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Saint Joseph’s Oratory

September 17, 2012

One can’t help but notice the Oratory – it’s positioned on the crest of Mount Royal, above a rolling lawn and series of wide steps. The enormous copper dome is visible from almost any part of the west island.

It’s somewhat of an optical illusion. There’s a trick of scale between the dome and the massive pillars at the entrance – at first it looks likes any old chapel on the hill – but if you begin the climb up the steps, you quickly realize just how gigantic it is.

This particular sketch led to a new thing for me. I made a painting on location, as I normally do. Sketching rapidly, and painting with energetic washes.

I’ve drawn the oratory before, but have never really been satisfied with last year’s rendition. I felt this one was a much better version. (You be the judge!)

After bringing it home, I couldn’t  shake the feeling I had *still* not captured the scope. The impression of the Oratory is not just the building itself – but the whole effect of its placement on a hill high above you, and the vast manicured lawns and gardens.

So, I did something I’ve never done – (though I’ve been wanting to try this for a while).  Instead of going back on location for a re-take, I started again in the studio. Re-drawing the sketch entirely, taking more care planning the composition, and more time with the calligraphy of brushwork.

This new piece is about 5 hours, so twice the time spent on location, and has the benefit of studio comforts. (Not worrying about light, weather or sore feet!).

Overall, I’m excited about this process. I never want my work to stiffen up. It’s always a worry that being too comfortable, or using memory aids like photography or tools like a hair dryer (to speed up washes drying) – that these things might change the work.  But I like what’s happening here – I think it still has the living feeling I look for.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2012 5:48 pm

    I am the first to respond that I will be at the Sunday outing. And I am bringing friends!

  2. Martine Kervagoret permalink
    September 17, 2012 10:17 pm

    c’est magnifique! bravo pour votre Blog!

  3. September 17, 2012 11:30 pm

    Congrats USK:MTL, first one in Canada!

    • September 18, 2012 1:07 pm

      Are we really Don? I didn’t know that. I will have to add that to a post somewhere. I am proud of that…


  4. September 18, 2012 9:47 am

    What an exciting painting! I also have wanted to try re-working a painting done on location. This is definitely worth a try!

  5. September 18, 2012 10:18 am

    I will be at the outing on Sunday too 😉 Beautiful work Marc.

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