Steel Rises

Steel girders thrust out of the ground more and more each day as BHS and Hutton construct the New Immaculata in St. Marys, Kansas. These girders are building a magnificent Romanesque church which has now taken form in the Kansan Flint Hills, right off Highway 24.

The building is happening so quickly, every time I go up to the site to sketch and paint it, it’s an overwhelming decision what to focus on capturing.

Once a small focus has been decided on, everything falls into place!

In this post I’d like to share with you some of the sketches from the last two months. There’s quite a few, so keep reading to discover a watercolor view of this incredible building project.

Back in April the drum and the back apses were starting to take form.

Slowly the steel began to look like the contours of a church. The dark red skeleton and the crane often framed the distant “chateau de Bellarmine,” the Jesuit building actually built in the style of a combo of a French chateau and a cathedral front.

By late May and early June, the workers were already laying bricks on the northeast side of the new Immaculata.

This view came from parking off Mt. Calvary Road, and looking through my grandad’s binoculars. (Thanks, Grandad! That was a fun adventure!)

The dome lies, waiting to be completed, in the lower left corner.

As the drum on which the cupola or dome would be placed was finalized, you could see it from highway 24!

Then I went on retreat for a week. When we drove by the church 6 days later, it seemed as though the building progress had escalated. Much of the apse and transept area was completely framed in with steel, had an outer layer of green stuff, and the stone work had greatly progressed.

It was also very exciting to see the arches over the entry way!

I can’t seem to paint fast enough (and keep on top of the other art projects I have going) so, these views are very incomplete!

While on retreat, I was able to see this view on my evening walks. Can you imagine what it will look like when the dome and entire church is complete? I can already hear the bells ringing at sunset…

On July 12 many of us spent hours up at the site waiting to see the cupola/dome raised to the top of the steel arms of the drum, reaching to receive it.

More visiting with some beautiful, lovely ladies from out of town, as well as some dear locals, was done than painting.

But you get a sense, I hope, of the anticipation we all had, waiting to see the giant crane lift the sheeted dome atop the church!

We did, early the next morning, but that’s for another post!

Until then, I hope that you have a lovely week! Thanks so much for reading!

And before you leave, I’d love it if you would check out the notebooks in which I did all these paintings. That’d be grand, because when you click the link below, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

This Moleskin Watercolor Sketchbook was gifted to my by a dear friend and colleague. The book is sturdy, and the pages are perfect for a few washes. I am honored to be able to use this gift to capture such a noble and historic project.


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