Parramatta NSW 2150 – Tudor Gates

September 5, 2012


5×8″ 150gm Daler-Rowney sketchbook (I find I’m gravitating to this brand unconsciously over time), double-page spread. A new habit: preparatory at home on the left page, on location sketch on the right page.

I am persisting with my resolution to do an architectural/urban sketching drawing a day and the habit is bedding down. The ‘upgrade’ to daily drawing yields some quite amazing results. I am working to a new and improved regime whereby if it’s sunny, draw outdoors (for shadows), if it’s overcast, draw outdoors (for detail) and if it’s raining, draw indoors (preparatory work for outdoor sessions).

A work assignment takes me to Parramatta regularly and I’m sketching afterwards, late-ish in the afternoons. I want to check out the Harris Park Historical Precinct before too long, but in my sights are St John’s Church (haven’t yet found a suitable perspective) based on Dupain’s photos of Sydney’s Georgian architecture, the Walter Liberty Vernon (he’s everywhere in Sydney) bell tower in the judicial precinct with its endless skyscrapers devoted to law and order, the Town Hall (spotted a suitable public seat yesterday which will give me a three-quarter view, similar to Sadami’s recent sketch) as well as a three-quarter view of today’s Tudor Gates at Parramatta Park from the busy city street outside, sitting among the trees outside the Children’s Court (I suspect cars stopping at the traffic lights will get in my way).

While the Vernon bell tower and the Town Hall seemed too complex for today’s jaunt, I settled on the relatively simple back view of the Tudor Gates: a preparatory from a photo in watercolours first, to get my eye in, followed by a 30min pencil contour later in the day, finishing around 4pm.

Nex time, I will take a ruler for the long horizontals. I never normally use a ruler, but I like the way Paul Hogarth (In Praise of Churches and other fine examples of the book illustrator’s art) makes judicious use of horizontal lines in pencil contrasting with his jaunty hand-drawn line. The colour work in the location view was spectacular, so I could have captured some of that if the sketch was way bigger. The deciduous trees were a shock because they weren’t in the original photo, but here contributed to some scene-setting. I drew the big tree first and then added the building behind later on. By rights, I should have completed all the context first. By rights also, I should be holding the pencil between 2nd finger and thumb for greater control. I was too concerned about time. Note to self: don’t undermine your urban sketching by looking at the watch. I wasn’t at all worried about re-statements and ‘mistakes’: this is a sketchbook after all. If I want perfection, I’d do it again at home! Dragging around the WalkStool was worth it. I believe there’s an artist renting the room upstairs in the Tudor Gates – certainly someone was there at the time – beautiful blue sky of the facade window visible here through the back window. The buildig was restored in 1980; the red bricks are beautiful and the cream paint is starting to peel slightly.

Both the watercolour and the pencil sketches have an unfinished look about them, but if I do them again, I’ll start both from scratch again. The watercolour has an early Klee feel about it; I’m learning to leave lots of white in watercolour. And it’s true what they say about the medium: it’s so sensuous and sensual, it should be banned! lol. But of course a lot of that sensuality only ‘occurs’ after the paint has dried. Like shibori dyeing and glazework on pottery (which I know well), it’s not obvious at the time.

I had a realization talking to other sketching colleagues at the recent meetup that a sketch can always be returned to: a sketch need not always reflect the effort of a single visit. An on-location sketch can also be added to during a return visit. To be pedantic, I could write down the dates of every time I came back to the same spot. Obviously we do the best we can at any one sitting, but there are no rules saying I must finish each sketch in a single blow.


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