Landmark Center

A historic building in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the Landmark Center. Last week, our Urban Sketching group went to Rice Park in St. Paul to sketch. After looking around at the fountain, park, and numerous buildings by the park, I chose the Landmark Center. This building was completed in 1902 and used to be a US Post Office, Courthouse, and Custom House for the state of Minnesota. Now, it is used for theater, arts, and cultural events. I’m quite sure one of my kids had their prom there.

I wandered over to the right side of the park and liked the architecture of the center, including the red awnings and hanging pots from the lamp posts. So I found a shady spot, got out my sketch supplies and got started. The park was inhabited by our sketchers, a few tourists, passerby’s, and that was about it. It was a fairly quiet afternoon, which was nice. The pigeons and sparrows puttered around by the fountain and ate crumbs off the sidewalk. Buses and cars sputtered their way past the center, and I watched a man eat his lunch while waiting for a bus, and put him in my sketch.

As I worked on the sketch, I decided to make the lamp, plants, and awnings the focal point. So I pushed those values and colors deeper and richer with multiple layers. I sketched the bright orange and white traffic cone, but left those colors very muted so they wouldn’t distract. That’s the thing about painting, you want certain areas to pop out and other areas to be in the background, so to speak. Another way to think about it is in a play— some people are the main actors and others are the minor players, and tend to be in the background more. It’s the same with elements of a sketch. I looked at my sketch, but didn’t like the large empty space on the page. So I decided to draw a portion of the Landmark front, the clock, and spires at the top. Just a hint of the building to give the viewer some idea of what it looked like.

Our sketch group had a great outing, and I came home with a fun memory of a place I had never been before!

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