Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, Mary Queen of the World
I have sketched and painted from this spot on other occasions but on this particular Saturday on sketchcrawl day, the view was particularily interesting due to the weather. A soft snow was falling creating flat contrasting shapes against the dark buildings. When sketching or drawing a very close up view such as this, the danger is to get lost in the details and lose the overall design. Regarding my choice of design, I wished to lead the viewer down from top left to bottom right. Therefore, I started first drawing the dome of the Cathedral which was peeking behind the rectory building (the residence of priests, bishops or cardinals). Using a permanent felt pen, point 03 Prismacolor, I worked my drawing down to the cars below. I used flat unmodulated watercolor washes on Strathmore Aquarius II paper. I wanted to render the feeling of shapes rather than detail therefore I tried not to vary the intensity of the individual tone. Also, to better lead the eye diagonally down across to the blue van I did not work the paint to the edges but rather indicated any detail or forceful colors, light/dark contrast nearer the center area. For balance and unity in the design I painted strong verticals indicated by the dark upright trees for example. The contrasting horizontals are suggested by the building ledges, the stone wall below and finally the cars. The most difficult part of the rendering was to preview and leave bits of white paper untouched through the flat washes suggesting snow clinging to the surface of the building, the stone wall and cars. Otherwise the feeling of light would have been lost. I had left the rectangular shapes of the windows unpainted during the wash process only to come back later and add red/brown and blue/grey to indicated the windows. I chose to limit my palette colors to muted tones of blue/green, browns, greys and blacks in order to render the sense of a day under the snow when the sky is as white as the snow itself. There is little modulation of tone in the snow area since an overcast day casts few shadows. Finally, it was important to place a large shape such as the blue van in the foreground in order to illustrate a feeling of depth and scale in an othewise rather flat cityscape. In an hour or so the 9 x 12 in watercolor sketch done on site was complete.
Raynald Murphy SCA