Notre Dame Cathedral Prep

I’ve been commissioned to paint the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris! 

Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (France-000037 - Notre-Dame Cathedral)
Image by permission Dennis Jarvis/Wikimedia Commons

My watercolor paintings of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, caught the attention of a potential customer! As a result I’ve been commissioned to paint a larger version of Notre Dame Cathedral surrounded by the Seine River.

It’s a big project and I’m giving it my best. This means a lot of preparations because I have not done any watercolor work in quite a while, and I want this to be a special painting for my customer, because for her it represents a special travel experience to Paris, as it does for me.

So here is what has happened thus far:

The Drawing

Mon Dieu, this is a complicated composition! The cathedral is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture and represents the heart of Paris’ Catholic heritage. Replete with flying buttresses, gargoyles, individual sculptures and a spectacular rose window makes it complicated to draw. This is my first attempt. Once I’m satisfied I’ll transfer it to my watecolor paper.
Marie Wise Pencil Sketch

The Sketchbook Notes

Because paintings often stretch over weeks or months, I keep a sketchbook on all my paintings, with notes about observations, color samples, paper sizes, and mixtures. When I need to refer back to how I did something, I can look it up! Here are my first notes on this painting.

Marie Wise Artist Sketchbook

The Practice Palette

Successful watercolor work requires a lot of practice! I dampened my palette, organized all my supplies, and have been experimenting with sky blue mixtures.

Marie Wise Watercolor Palette

More Reference Materials

Realistic artists paint what they see, and a clear image of the cathedral and surrounds is essential to the process. In addition to the image the customer sent me, I used Google to search for images, then saved them to my Dropbox. Now I can zoom in and see details as I’m working. This really helps.

Here are my original paintings, based on my trip to Paris, which the customer found and subsequently contacted me. Merci Google!

And here is the resulting blog post

Finally, here are the photos I took on my momentous trip to Paris in 2012

Image Reference

The image at the top of the page is used by permission from Wikimedia Commons By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (France-000037 – Notre-Dame Cathedral). Here is the link to access this image.