Pastel parishSanta Barbara, CA

Mission Santa Barbara sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This is the seventh installment of my Mission Mondays series, exploring all 21 Spanish Missions along the California coast. You can read more about this series, and see a sketch map of all the missions, at this post.

Now, here’s a lovely thing. Mission Santa Barbara is one of the most well-known and beloved in the chain, and it shows. And it almost seems to be the companion piece to San Luis Rey de Francia: for one thing, while San Luis Rey is often called the “King of the Missions,” Santa Barbara’s been crowned the Queen by her fans. For another, both have beautiful pastel accents—Santa Barbara in feminine pink, San Luis Rey in baby blue.

Mission Santa Barbara sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Even the cemetery of Santa Barbara matches that of San Luis Rey, with its trio of skull-and-crossbones (though unlike San Luis Rey’s Hollywood touches, Santa Barbara’s are original).


Santa Barbara also stands out because it is so lovingly cared for. Located in the affluent town that owes it name to the mission, Santa Barbara has been painstakingly restored and maintained–unlike her somewhat more inner-city brother San Gabriel.

Mission Santa Barbara sketch by Chandler O'Leary

At first I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer size and scale of the place, and worried I’d never be able to pick a vantage point for my sketchbook.

Mission Santa Barbara sketch by Chandler O'Leary

But in the end, it was the details that really had me smitten. Between the pink accents (I’m a sucker for pink), the careful stonework and the magic-hour light, the compositions really chose themselves.

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