Virtual Santo Domingo (4)

August 2, 2012

Today’s 4×5″ thumbnail on A4 photocopy paper is the side entrance of the Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor. USK symposium participants drew this church in its wider context, since it fronts on to the Parque Colon, Santo Domingo’s central square, complete with 19th-century sculpture of Columbus manufactured by the French and cafes and restaurants around its edge. Before tackling the park and sculpture, I thought it useful to tackle the church “front on”. The play of the arches is gorgeous!

I thought I’d run again with the Matthew Brehm idea of focussing on darks(1) and the linework associated with James Richards(2). Not filling in all the archways entirely black stems from Ernest W. Watson, but accords also with Brehm’s advice about “forcing the shadows”. What ‘m learning from Richards is to tackle building facades head-on in the studio; on-location I almost always go for something conveying more mass and volume and invariably choose a three-quarter view. Facades are probably good as training exercises in developing proportion and measurement.

I haven’t proceeded to colour today because there’s an error in the architecture: the capitals of the two columns aren’t level with the top of the arches. I broke with Brehm’s advice unfortunately about leaving the sunlit areas alone. Also I haven’t hit upon a focus or highlight in the facade, with everything else subdued around it.

The joy of this facade is the colour scheme; I reckon pastel pencils would have been useful in Santo Domingo – two cool and two warm (a black, a blue-grey, a light rose-pink and a bright orange), given the stone is coral-stone/limestone and decays to dark-grey/black.

Since the cathedral dates from 1512, I”ll sketch the facade later. I must check with my chamber music mates to see if viole da gamba were played in the cathedral in the 16th century. The Spanish used to bring over the wooden instruments to South America but the bugs chewed them up so quickly that the religious requested instrument-makers instead so they could make their own. Coincidentally, I may have played string music from the time, performed originally in this cathedral – we’ll see!


1. See Matthew Brehm, p,184. Urban Sketchers em Lisboa desenhando a cidade.

2. James Richards, step-by-step process of drawing the Palais Garnier, Paris.


Matthew Brehm’s weblog,

James Richards’ weblog,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: