2009 Sketching School

Professors: Ricardo L. Castro and David Covo

Place: Baie St-Paul, Quebec

Dates: Thursday, August 20 to Friday, August 28, 2009

ARCH 324, Sketching School (formerly Sketching School 1):
An eight-day supervised field trip in the late summer to sketch places or things having specific visual characteristics. (Students are required to include Sketching School (ARCH 324) in the B.Sc.(Arch.).)

ARCH 680, Field Sketching (formerly Sketching School 2):
Observation, notebook recording, sketching in a range of media in the field in Montreal and other urban sites. Eight days of supervised field sketching outside Montreal, followed by local fieldwork and coursework examining architectural sketching as a process that develops an intellectual and physical framework for encounters with the urban environment. (Students are required to include Field Sketching (ARCH 680) in the M.Arch. (Professional) program, that is, students currently enrolled in the final term of the M.Arch (Prof.) program and new incoming M.Arch. (Prof.) Design Studio students.)

Sketching School in Baie St-Paul, August 2009 - Ricardo L. Castro


Baie St-Paul is a small community on the north side of the Saint Lawrence River, approximately 100 km from Quebec City. It sits on the river, in an agricultural valley surrounded by the rolling hills and rich cultural history of Comté Charlevoix. Baie St-Paul is accessible by road and river, and is well served by public transport (bus).

A wide range of hotels, motels and inns are available and students are expected to arrange their own accommodation. The complete lsting can be found at the following websites:



A printed information package from the Baie St. Paul tourist website will be available, for viewing only, on the front counter, Room 201.



A variety of travel choices are available to students. The School has looked into the best economical way to travel; it is by car or van. However, some of you may wish to travel by Voyageur Bus, 505 de Maisonneuve East, corner of Berri. Telephone number is (514) 842-2281.

NOTE: Travel is very popular at this time of year, especially during the Labour Day weekend. Please book your tickets as quickly as possible.

Health Insurance

Please remember to bring with you the Quebec Medicare Card, and/or proof of any other supplementary health insurance you may have.

Required Equipment

Water colours, water colour paper, brushes, pencils, pen and ink, conte crayon, sketch books and drawing paper of varying sizes and types. Sketch pads, sheet material and watercolour blocks should range from 9" x 12" to 18" x 24".

If you haven’t yet covered watercolour in Freehand Drawing, and need to buy a set of watercolours, you could consider a set with "cakes," or you could purchase separate tubes of pigment. If you decide to buy the separate tubes, you will need to develop a versatile palette. Below is one suggestion for a 12-colour palette - please note that the palette does NOT include black or white, which are unnecessary and even undesirable.

  • Reds: Alizarin Crimson, Indian Red
  • Blues: French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue
  • Yellows (difficult): Cadmium Yellow Pale, Yellow Ochre
  • Greens: Hooker’s Green Dark, Olive Green
  • Browns: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber
  • Other: Payne’s Grey

The first experiments in watercolour will be based only on French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber, which produce a surprising range of values and colours.

As for sketchbooks and pads, we recommend, in addition to the list above, a small pocket notebook or sketchpad for thumbnail sketches and experiments with wash and watercolour. A few good sable or synthetic brushes will also be required: a small and medium round, with a medium to large (1/2 inch or 3/4 inch) flat are always useful.

Bicycles have always been valuable additions to the standard "kit" and are highly recommended. We have also found that a folding camp stool or small foam pad can make 2 to 3 hours on the cold ground much more endurable.

Schedule and Meeting Format

The emphasis is on field sketching as opposed to studio work, so students draw outside every day, working individually and in small groups, and under the supervision of the instructors for the first four mornings of the course.

There will be three morning workshops for Sketching School - ARCH 324 (Field Sketching - ARCH 680 - is welcome to attend). The first will take place on Friday morning, August 21.

Every second evening, the group meets in a gymnasium, hotel meeting room, community centre or some other place large enough for the class to assemble comfortably and with enough wall space for two day’s worth of sketches.

A minimum of 4 evening meetings/reviews are scheduled, in addition to a short orientation session on the first Thursday evening.

All meetings and workshops will be held in Baie Saint-Paul’s Cultural Centre, the Carrefour Culturel Paul-Médéric, 4 rue Ambroise-Fafard.

  • Meeting 1: Thursday, August 20, 1800 hrs: orientation.
  • Meeting 2: Friday, August 21, 1800 hrs.: review.
  • Meeting 3: Sunday, August 23, 1800 hrs.: review.
  • Meeting 4: Tuesday, August 25, 1800 hrs.: review.
  • Meeting 5: Thursday, August 27, 1800 hrs.: review.

These 90-minute sessions provide a forum not only for a review of the work but also for informal discussions on the intentions of the course and on the process by which images and memories are formed.


During the course, students are expected to explore both townscape and landscape and to make sketches that describe what they find. Final evaluation is based on a portfolio of at least twenty pieces, the majority of which must be substantially worked. All portfolios must be left in the freehand drawing room, (one pile for Sketching School - ARCH 324 - and another for Field Sketching - ARCH 680) by 1000 hrs on Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Students currently registered in the B.Sc.(Arch.) program are required to attend ARCH 324 Sketching School. Registration for ARCH 324 is possible until August 1, 2009, via MINERVA – Summer 2009 term.

Students currently registered in the final term of the M.Arch. (Prof.) program will also be required to register for ARCH 680 Sketching School 2, during the SUMMER 2009 term.

Newly admitted students to the M.Arch. (Prof.) Design Studio program will register for ARCH 680 Field Sketching with the remaining courses required in the Fall 2009 term.

If registration (including withdrawals) is problematic, please contact Mary Lanni-Campoli by mary.lanni [at] mcgill.ca (e-mail) or by telephone at (514) 398-6702, before the commencement of Sketching School.

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