Saint Matthew’s Cathedral Sketches
These thumbnail sketches of Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington DC, lay out the plans for my first commission project of 2021. It’s exciting to start a new project at the beginning of a new year. Full of vision, possibility, options, agility. Creating thumbnail sketches like these intimate studies is like peeking around the corner at a fork in the path. Where would this take us? Will this plan accomplish our goals? Thumbnail sketches are a bit like those New Year’s goals we lay out at the beginning of the year, trying to set the arc of history by sheer willpower.
New Saint Matthew’s Cathedral Commission
Before the holidays, I was approached by a couple who wanted a larger-scale painting created just for them to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being married in the beautiful DC Cathedral of Saint Matthew. Because they are small (each sketch is about 4″ x 3″) they are very quick, allowing me to finish quickly and then iterate on the idea immediately, creating many options in a short amount of time. What if I zoom in? How would it change if I zoom out? Will the composition be more pleasing if I make it a square? A rectangle?
I never want to get hours into a project only to realize that the client wanted to see a little more of that window on the right! These quick sketches of St. Matthew’s cathedral provide an opportunity for my collector and I to align our visions for the painting, literally. Since this project will be a mid-sized oil painting, I want to be sure we are in agreement on the format and scope of the image before I begin painting on the canvas.
St. Matthew’s has a beautiful dome and a colorful interior, so although the altar is the focal point, it is a challenge to discern how much of the magnificent architecture to include. For a project like this I create multiple sketches in multiple formats. Through changing the boundaries of the drawing, I give the option to see more of the dome or more of the floor, in a vertical rectangle or a square, more zoomed in towards the altar or more zoomed out to include more of the transept architecture.
St. Matthew’s Cathedral Watercolor
Years ago I painted a watercolor of the interior of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC. When I create watercolors, the sketch I send to the client becomes integrated into the final painting on paper. That St. Matthew’s Cathedral watercolor was created as a wedding gift.
Creating custom paintings of wedding venues for wedding and anniversary gifts has become a joyful way of sharing my love for sacred architecture. I love connecting with someone’s life and vision through a custom painting. I’ve written in another blog post that I enjoy building relationships through the artistic challenge of a project that can have lasting impact. Prints of the St. Matthew’s Cathedral watercolor are available for purchase on my website.
History of St. Matthew’s Cathedral DC
St. Matthew’s Cathedral has been the site of many important events in the history of the United States, including the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. In addition to being the place where my collectors’ received the sacrament of Marriage, St. Matthew’s Cathedral, it is also the church where President Joe Biden attended Mass before his Inauguration in January 2021.
Do you have a place in your life that you would like have represented in a painting? Now is the perfect time to sketch out a plan for summer weddings and anniversaries. IN a moment when travel is still difficult, a work of art can bring home distant memories. https://www.michellepaine.com/commissions/