This time, our illustrated trip to Jerusalem takes us to The Church of Mary Magdalene, on the Mount of Olives.
I traveled there about a year ago, with family that came to visit from the States. It was hot, and crowded, and incredibly beautiful.
One thing I did not expect was just how steep the climb is, but then again, this dramatic setting of the church against the side of the mountain is what makes it such a great subject for a drawing.
Following are a few pictures from the trip itself, and then the stages and sketches I went through until the final postcard and the accompanying coloring page.
Not to keep you waiting :) This image is just a small preview, for convenience.
The original drawing is pen on paper, A5 size, which is half a regular A4 printer page.
Yes, there are real relics (mummies) of the two saints, on display inside.
I was not prepared for that, and it threw me off for a moment there.
The two two martyred saints are Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia and her fellow nun Varvara Yakovleva.
It is not at all gruesome - quite the contrary. They are covered in rich embroidery and encased in glass.
It's a lavish display. The whole of the interior of this church is grand and so I'll dedicate a page just for the interior design.
The guide from the Jerusalem Walk tour told us an incredible story where international intrigue mixes with British Royals, Russian Tsars, deep faith and raw human nature.
The Church of Mary Magdalene is Russian Orthodox, as you can easily guess from the exterior design.
If you plan to visit, there are three things to take into account:
As in many other religious sites around Jerusalem, visitors are requested to dress modestly - no shorts please!
I have no idea what these gilded onion domes would look like in a northern country, but in the intense Israeli sun they shine for miles.
Set against the steep backdrop of dark-blue cypress trees, the color pallete simply presented itself. I love this quick color sketch so much, I'll draw a postcard in this style too. I didn't try to make it accurate - this is a pure impression.
The sketch on the left is of the view I eventually drew the postcard from.
This is the reference photo I used for the composition.
I loves the criss-crossing diagonal composition, with clear layers receding into the distance. Sadly, there are no dark trees on that other mountain behind the church.
In any other way, it's a lousy reference :( I took it from a long distance all the way over from The City of David, on my smartphone camera. Really not the best, I know.
I supplemented it with the pictures I took up close at the church itself, as well as a photo I found on google, in order to figure out the decorations on the roof.
This is the first version I made: (click on any picture on this page to see the full size gallery)
Then I realized that A: The decoration on the roof is all wrong, and B: This tree is stuck in the middle of the frame, obscuring the center of the building.
So I took out my Artistic License, and transplanted the tree.
I traced the first sketch over with a light-table, using my favorite blue col-erase pencil (Once an animator, always an animator!).
Then moved the tree, and figured out the structure and decor from my own photos and a little help from wikipedia.
I then erased the blue pencil and finished the pen work with a set of Staedtler pigment liners.
The color is in gouache, and I thought it all ended up with a bit of a "Roberts-esqe" feel to it :)
And the coloring page again:
More postcards from this trip are coming up - check in again soon to see :)