This is the tenth 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.
Unlike last week, where we were smack in the middle of the California countryside, this week’s mission is right in the center of it all.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the origin and focal point for the town that takes its name, is another of the painstakingly well-cared-for missions in the chain.
And that’s because like Santa Barbara, the town of San Luis Obispo is a tidy, picturesque, wealthy community. So while the mission itself might not be as exciting as La Purisima or San Juan Capistrano (though Mission San Luis Obispo was involved in a brief skirmish during the Mexican-American war, so there!) ,it’s so beautifully situated and restored that it just draws you in (no pun intended).
There’s not a whole lot here anymore that’s original—at least on the surface. But I think they did a great job of merging a period aesthetic with modern touches. I only managed this one sketch of the interior, but if you’re ever there, prepare to spend some time inside the church itself. They took such care with approximating the hand-painted decor that the finished result is breathtaking.
Actually, I’m glad the place isn’t quite as action-packed as La Purisima. Since I did the two on the same day, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the time I pulled into SLO. But as soon as I stepped foot inside the mission, the place did its job as a retreat and sanctuary. Suddenly it was easy to pull out the old sketchbook again, and start letting the images flow.