Sunshine is the best painter. - Antoni Gaudi
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous buildings in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! You can find it in Barcelona, Spain - if you ever find yourself in that part of the world, make sure you don't miss it because it is A-MAZ-ING!
Construction on La Sagrada Familia began in 1882 - and I don't know if you'll believe me on this one, but they still haven't finished building it! The Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi was responsible for the design of the cathedral. When he died in 1926 less than a quarter of the cathedral had been finished, but they are planning to have La Sagrada Familia completed in time for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death in 2026!!!
Once La Sagrada Familia is finished, it will have 18 towers, and the central tower will be 172 metres tall - making it the tallest religious building in all of Europe!
We were lucky enough to visit La Sagrada Familia in January 2020. The building is absolutely breath-taking, and although it's hard to pin down the best feature amongst so many incredible details, the stained-glass windows are certainly at the top of my list!
Depending on the time of year and day you visit, the sun will hit the windows differently, creating a different experience inside the cathedral. Joan Vila-Grau has been the artist responsible for creating the stained-glass windows in La Sagrada Familia since 1999, using Gaudi's ideas and inspiration to direct his work. One of the main ideas behind Vila-Grau's windows is that each one is unique, but that they all work together to tell a greater story - just like in nature.
Another interesting aspect of Vila-Grau's work is that all of the colours and forms in the windows are abstract and organic, and so they convey ideas and feelings through colour and light, rather than directly telling a story.
In the museum underneath the Cathedral, there's a display about Vila-Grau's stained-glass windows, and that has inspired today's activity.
Who was Antoni Gaudi?
Antoni Gaudi was born in Reus, Spain on the 25th of June, 1852. He is Spain's most famous architect. He is known as the great master of Catalan Modernism - a distinctive style of architecture. Gaudi was very inspired by nature - and his buildings have a very distinctive organic design. The roof of his building, Casa Batlló, resembles the back of a dragon, while the façade of Casa Milá resembles an enormous rocky clif! Antoni Gaudi died in 1926 and his tomb is located in La Sagrada Familia.
Make your own La Sagrada Familia-Inspired Artwork
You will need:
a copy of the stained-glass window template
an A4 piece of black card
white coloured pencil
A4 piece of watercolour card
watercolour paints in blue, yellow and red
thin black pen (we used a 0.4 fineliner)
Begin by painting your watercolour card with a thin layer of water. This will help your watercolour paints spread and mix in interesting ways!
Paint your watercolour paints onto the card in a random pattern – your artwork will be the most interesting when different shapes and shades are made. Make sure that all of your card is covered by some colour.
While you’re letting the paint dry, you can start making your stained-glass window silhouette.
First of all, select the silhouette you would like to use and ask an adult to help you by cutting the silhouette out with a craft knife.
Place the cut-out template over your piece of black card and trace all the outlines onto your black card using your white coloured pencil.
It’s time for an adult’s help again as you get them to repeat the process of cutting out the outlined shapes on the black card.
Once your watercolour is dry, turn your black card over to the back side (I normally use the side that I traced the shapes onto as the back side just in case there are any remaining coloured pencil marks on there!) and spread glue around the edges of the card. Line the black card up with your painted watercolour card and glue these two pieces together. Your painted card should show through the shapes of your black card.
Now, in the stained-glass windows of La Sagrada Familia, each shape is made from different coloured glass that is cut and joined together with strips of lead to form a bigger image. To make your artwork look like this, you’re going to look for different shapes made by the colours and shades of your paint and making these shapes stand out by defining them with your black fineliner. If it helps, you can use a pencil first to experiment with identifying the different shapes. Look to the photo of our artwork for inspiration.