Parramatta NSW 2150: Macquarie Street Gatehouse

March 14, 2013

macquarie street gatehouse parramatta

This was done most hastily than I would have liked on one of my scheduled fortnightly workplace visits to Parramatta. Like Sydney, it has its own Government House from colonial days, complete with outbuildings and surrounding park. I’ve sketched the other gatehouse already and Government House awaits.

Next time, I’ll stop for some sustenance and refreshment prior to sketching. The pencil sketching was rougher than I’d normally do, with a graphite pencil 3B (I’m running in each pencil in a new set of Derwent Soft Graphic, moving from the hardest to the softest).

Losing momentum after half-an-hour, I added watercolour at home with the main intention of at least getting the tonal values correct. As it turned out, the roof is a darker slate colour and the doors are actually green, and the walls a lighter ochre colour, but you can’t with them all! Any use of darker colour would have obliterated the work I’d done in getting the unusual woodwork down. I am generally aiming at watercolour washes which don’t show brushmarks, testing my brush control, but that’s not the case with this one.

Built in 1887, it reminded me at the time of the Old Schoolhouse in Darlington, which it turns out was built four years later. More a cottage than a gatehouse (especially compared to the grander Tudor gate-with-house nearby, the other entrance to Old Government House on the eastern side of Parramatta Park), it has the same ‘tightness’ of the Darlington schoolhouse: a very rich compactness given the strong contrast between slate, stone and wood, in comparison to its overall size. They were obviously aiming to pack, in those days, as much as possible into the smallest possible space. There are some attractive additions at back, worthy of another sketch. This is mid-afternoon looking west, so a lot of shade. The slate roof has an unusual diamond surface design and the painted woodwork of the main entrance gable is particularly unusual.

The cottage is closed to the public via an elaborate old-fashioned picket fence and tiny rose garden. The southern aspect is not so good, but, as I say, worthy of a few more sketches to plumb its aesthetic depths. The photos of it on Flickr show the difficulty of getting a decent angle on the building.

An A4 (Milini 150g sketchbook) sketch, the architectural detail is worth doing on a larger piece of paper, or at least more slowly and deliberately. These days, I’m aiming at covering as much of my sketching in watercolor as possible. As a preliminary rough sketch, this passes muster for me but the subject is certainly worth a return visit.


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