The first skyscraper

Ironically the first skyscraper to be built in Montreal was the New York Life Insurance Building (also known as the Quebec Bank Building). It still stands, in all its red sandstone beauty, facing Place d’Armes in Old Montreal and that’s where I sketched today with Marc Taro Holmes. We thought it might be a good idea to paint together in preparation for our upcoming Portland workshop. I did a little sketch in my Moleskine while he started a larger, more ambitious painting which hopefully he will post on his site. Place d’Armes is a really busy place with busloads of tourists visiting the Notre Dame cathedral across the square but it was good practice to be outside in a crowded area. At one point a huge gust of wind knocked over everything on Marc’s easel including his nearly completed painting but he managed to rescue all his gear and even fill up his empty water container with water from the fountain in the middle of the square.

The First Skyscraper

10 Comments on “The first skyscraper”

  1. Ross C says:

    Great little detail of the building with nicely suggested architectural bits.
    Let me guess… you finished your painting and packed up before Marc got his initial pencil sketch finished?


    • No, he’s pretty fast too. On the four hours he did one large painting and I did a moleskine sketch and a small painting. Plus a lot of running back to the parking meter.


  2. Monique says:

    You are so talented.Love what you did with the building.
    Your sketches are perfect!


  3. Ross C says:

    That’s good. And yes, I understand.. you paid for parking! And I saw that you said that on Thursday’s painting as well. Are you trying to make a point here?


  4. paula says:

    Best to take the bus. : ) Hey Shari, I love what you’ve done here, creating a sketch blog! I’m part of Urban Sketchers, as well, out here on the WI/Pointe Claire. My blog is mixed, though, as I post mostly my illustration jobs these days. My urban sketches are not as…”skilled” as your’s or Marc’s, but the idea (a la Danny Gregory…and Nike : ) is to “Just do it”. So I have “urban sketched” the area for about four years now. If you ever want to meet up to sketch, feel free to contact me. I’d love to try sketching with other people.


    • HI Paula. I love your illustrations! I’d love to meet you and sketch with you. When I get back from my Paris workshop perhaps we can plan an outing for later in the summer.


  5. Rhoda says:



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