Friday, February 26, 2010

Conference at the Woodwork Hall

More than a decade ago, when I landed in Montréal, my attention was captured by this building but never actually researched its history. Fast forward a decade: a conference happened to take place at Université du Québec à Montéal inside the Woodwork Hall (Salle des Boiseries). I asked if anyone knew what part of the former church we were in, but no one seemed to have more information. Knowing that in Montréal, and the whole province of Québec, education used to be in the hands of the Church until the 60's, when the Quiet Revolution occurred and a lot of changes took place, I assumed the church was purchased by the university during this period, when schools and colleges became under the responsibility of the State and a lot of religious buildings were repurposed. To my surprise, I discovered that St-Jacques Church was in fact Montréal's first Cathedral! It was consecrated in 1825 and burned down in 1852 (along with 1200 other buildings). They eventually built Mary Queen of the World Cathedral and proceeded to rebuild St-Jacques to serve as a parish church in 1857. The building endured two more fires and reconstructions, until it was purchased by the University in 1973.
During my research, I came across this photo which shows how the block looked like in 1976. St-Jacques spire and transept, considered historic monuments, as well as Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel, were later integrated into the University campus.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

At the park

Every time my mother comes to visit I ask her to bring me literary magazines, so I can read essays, short stories and poetry in Spanish. There is something about a magazine that allows you to read also the pulse of the society where it has been edited that make them more attractive as presents than books, especially when books are more readily available from local and internet bookstores, but having subscriptions for 3 or 4 foreign magazines could be pricey... Anyway, I took my magazine to the park two weeks ago, with all the intention to read it cover to cover while sitting on a bench and enjoying an hour of sunshine, but while reading Benedetti's Huellas the itch to sketch was overwhelming and voilà... Glossy paper is great for Staedtler pigment liners and it doesn't buckle too much with a very light wash of watercolor (applied today).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drawing and experimenting

While trying to focus on drawing with pen and avoiding pencil (or mostly, the temptation to erase), I could not resist giving this sketch a touch of color, but the only pigments available on my backpack were a pack of Pilot Highlighting markers, the kind you can remove by friction. Although I felt the need, I was very hesitant —read afraid― to apply color. It happens every time: I really have to muster up the courage to apply a few touches. Oh! How I admire those with a bold sense of color! (Just look at Miguel's sketches here) Sometimes I ask myself if I could live in a black and white movie, but then a little voice tells me to remember that I used to love all the visible light spectrum, so, what happened? Well... somewhere along the road my "color sense" got kinda blocked, or spooked. So I must cajole it gently to come back to reason and treat itself to the brand new tubes of watercolor that have been patiently awaiting for it to raise from its depression. I wish to become a fearless sketcher, a free soul to experiment with tracing, estimating, measuring, highlighting the features and essence of what captures my curiosity and desire to understand this world.
(And the little voice whispers: That's enough blogging, aren't you supposed to sketch?)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The West Gate: Montreal Chinatown

A quick escapade to Chinatown to eat at the Noodle Factory, a tiny restaurant on St-Urbain Street, between Viger and René-Levesque. Had wonton soup and steamed dumplings, just the right thing to warm me up!