Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In the forest at Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Before leaving Barcelona, Nicholas and I met fellow Seattle-ite and amazing Urban Sketcher Gail Wong and her husband John at Gaudí's Sagrada Familia.  I found Gail mid-sketch in the Basilica!

Construction of the building began in 1882.  It is truly organic in feel, especially on the outside, but inside it's actually smaller, brighter (lots of light inside) and less textured than I expected.  Nicholas went up the tower elevator, which even he said was "sketchy"-- not for anyone with vertigo or for younger kids, as there is not much in the way of railings and long views down the center of the circular stairs to the floor way way below.  I'm glad I sketched on the ground instead!

This basilica sketch is one of the most challenging sketches I've ever done, as there is so much going on.  The columns are actually different heights and canted in Gaudí's famous hyperboloid curves, and we learned from John, different colors because they are built from different stones based on their ability to carry different building loads.  The effect of looking up and feeling as if you are in a forest peering into the tree canopy is really interesting.

Outside, it was SUNNY, HOT, and humid.

Basilica interior at Gaudí's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

2 minute detail of Sagrada Familia exterior

Sketched sitting on the ground across the street from the Sagrada Familia
with tourists constantly stopping right in front of me to snap a photo.
This is the Passion Facade, construction began in 1954. It is much more
austere than the other side, the Nativity facade which was built
much earlier.  It looks like Gaudí built drip sand castles on the
beaches of Barcelona when he was a child.


  1. I was there in 2011 and loved the Sagrada Familia, it was a beautiful experience, especially the forest-like interior. Because I've seen it, I know how complex it is. I am in awe that you even attempted, and succeeded in drawing it.

    1. Hi Sigrid,
      thanks so much for your comment on this blog! It is an amazing building, and I also loved the feel of the forest in the interior--it is indeed VERY complex!
      Thanks again for checking out this blog...I hope you'll continue to do so~~

  2. Hi Stephanie, may I know for the interior sketch, did you add watercolor to the pencil sketch on the spot or after you came out? I’ll be visiting soon and planned to sketch but not sure if wet media is allowed to be used within the compound.

    1. Hi Jane, Wow, you found this post from WAY back! They were actually very fussy inside. I was with two other people who were sitting on the floor in an out-of-the-way place, but we were told that was not ok. I recall muttering that Gaudí would be appalled that we weren't allowed to sketch where we were!

      I don't remember when I painted it, but my suspicion is what not inside the cathedral.
      Still, amazing place to see, it really surprised me!! I hope you will get to sketch inside.