2008 Sketching School

Professors: Ricardo L. Castro and David Covo

Place: Saint John, New Brunswick

Dates: Thursday, August 21 to Friday, August 29, 2008

Calendar description: 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 1 (ARCH 324) in the B.Sc.(Arch.) and Sketching School 2 (ARCH 680) in the M.Arch. (Professional) program.

Sketching School in Saint John, NB, August 2008 - David Covo

Sketching School in Saint John, NB, August 2008 - David Covo


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 www.tourismsaintjohn.com.

Please note that the University of New Brunswick (St. John campus) residences will be unable to provide summer accommodations as they are closed as of August 21.

A printed set of the St. John 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 determined that the most economical way to travel is by car or van. However, some of you may wish to travel by Via Rail. The cost for a student for a round-trip economy/comfort ticket is approx. $315, including taxes. An ISIC Card must be purchased in order to obtain this price. It can be obtained from Via Rail or Travel Cuts Voyage Campus, McGill – cost approx. $16; proof of registration is required, i.e. receipt of tuition fee payment, or confirmation letter from McGill University’s Registrar’s Office. In addition, it may be possible to book a group ticket if there is a group of 21 students interested in taking the train together; a further reduction to approximately $300 may be possible. Please contact Elizabeth from House of Travel Globalliance between July 5 and July 10 for further assistance. Telephone: (514) 481-7277, ext. 2227.

The train departs from Montreal on August 18, at 6:45 p.m., and will arrive in Moncton the following day at 11:45 a.m. Further travel by bus is required; the bus will leave at 12:15 p.m. and arrive in St. John by 1:40 p.m.

Returning from St. John to Montreal: The bus departs St. John on Friday, August 29 at 3:00 p.m. and will arrive in Moncton at 5:05 p.m. The train departs at 5:19 p.m. and arrives in Montreal the next day at 8:00 a.m.

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 your Quebec Medicare Card, and/or proof of any other supplementary health insurance you may have. If you do not have supplementary health insurance covering you outside of Quebec, please arrange to purchase a temporary health insurance plan.

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 1 (Sketching School 2 is welcome to attend). The first will take place on Friday morning, August 22 (see details below).

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. The schedule of meetings is as follows:

  • Meeting 1: Thursday, August 21, 6:00 to 7:00 pm (the entire class is expected to attend): Saint John Arts Centre, 20 Hazen Avenue (see city plan below)
  • Workshop 1: Friday, August 22, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm: Loyalist Plaza, foot of King Street (see city plan below)
  • Meeting 2: Friday, August 22, 6:00 to 7:30 pm: Saint John Arts Centre
  • Meeting 3: Sunday, August 24, 6:00 to 7:30 pm: Saint John Arts Centre
  • Meeting 4: Tuesday, August 26, 6:00 to 7:30 pm: Saint John Arts Centre
  • Meeting 5: Thursday, August 28, 6:00 to 7:30 pm: Saint John Arts Centre

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 (20) pieces, the majority of which must be substantially worked. All portfolios must be left in the freehand drawing room (one pile for Sketching School 1 and another for Sketching School 2) by 10:00 hrs on Wednesday 3 September 2008, in Room 508.

Each student is required to attend ARCH 324 Sketching School 1 during the B.Sc.(Arch.) program, and ARCH 680 Sketching School 2 during the M.Arch. (Professional) program. Registration for ARCH 324 is possible up to August 1, 2008, via MINERVA – Summer 2008 term. Registration for ARCH 680 is possible up to September 5, 2008, via MINERVA – Fall 2008 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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