15 September 2012

Sketching the harvest at Domaine Cataraqui

Bethann G. Merkle, 2012

I was going to write up a little post describing a lovely sketching afternoon I enjoyed recently.  However, Larry just posted about this in a different forum, and he sums up the afternoon so perfectly that I just asked if we could re-post it here.  Being the generous fellow he is, he agreed.

So, here's a glimpse into the "secret garden" at Domaine Cataraqui, a lovely old estate-turned-park located in the Sillery area of Quebec City.


Larry D. Marshall, 2012
From Larry:
Bethann contacted some of us and said "I'm going sketching at Domaine Catacaraqui tomorrow. I'll be there at noon." I've only lived in Quebec forever (so it seems) but I'd never heard of the place. But I hadn't seen Bethann since she ran off to chase buffalo with her husband and Yvan said he'd be there, so I was on my way.

And did we have fun. The grounds of this place are a sketcher's dream come true. A forested area surrounds a complex of buildings that are wonderful and could serve as fodder for dozens of sketches as they're clustered around courtyards, vary in their architecture and the main house has a gorgeous domed greenhouse hanging off one end of it. But, just like those Ronco commercials, "There's more!" There's a large vegetable garden, complete with ground cherries th

at manage to 'fall' into the hands of sketchers who just couldn't resist. [Editorial strikethrough... :)]

And so we sketched. I started this sketch from the parking lot. I had no idea what buildings were there but I saw a slice of this one through several tall trees. I sort of mentally 'zoomed' my way across the parking lot and drew just the top part of the building, emphasizing the trees as a border. 

Once everyone arrived we moved inside, got a tour of the place*, sketched in the vegetable garden and Yvan spilled a bunch of sketching wisdom on us. Oh...and there was a press party going on - lots of suits and a CBC reporter wandering around the garden, interviewing people so we had lots of company. The day was perfect.

Yvan's masterful rendering of the entire press event, stable, chauffiere,
greenhouses, and even Larry sketching (2nd from right).  Note, Yvan says this
sketch, as pictured, is incomplete.  We look forward to seeing the final version!
Can you find the sketchers?Yvan: far left, in the shade at the end of the path;
Larry: far right, seated in orange shirt
Middle: the press scrum/photo op

*Note from Bethann:

I work for a local newspaper, so I had heard of the property, and written an article about a community fundraiser held there, as well as one about the potager (vegetable garden) which is the latest restoration project.  That, the garden, is what I wanted to go sketch.  I'd received a press invitation for a photo op (the harvest is being donated to a local nonprofit that provides food aid throughout the city), and I wanted to sketch in the garden before they pulled out all the plants.

Bethann G. Merkle, 2012
The tour was unexpected, and offered by a rep from the Commission de la capitale nationale, which is responsible for the management, and spectacular renovation/restoration, of the estate.  We came early, before the press event, and as we were the only ones there, she offered us a tour.  

We saw the massive kitchen used by a culinary school, and several grand salons in use for various events taking place that day.  We peeked inside the atelier, the studio maintained by one of the former estate owners who was himself an avid painter.  And, we nosed around the grounds, oohing and aahhing over all the delightful views and potential sketching scenes we spotted.

Afterwards, we settled in to sketch, and thoroughly enjoyed spectating - the controlled chaos of the press event provided a comic counterpoint to the richness of history and nourishment surrounding us.

Bethann G. Merkle, 2012