All posts by ronniecruwys

Living and working in the Clyde Valley, South Lanarkshire, drawing, sketching, painting and exploring my new Scottish life and surroundings. Please visit my other blogs https://drawingthestreet.com https://drawingthedetail.com/ and main website https://www.drawingthestreet.co.uk

Fenton and Families

The other day I received an email via my archive blog ‘Drawing the Detail’ from a lady who mentioned that her grandparents, the Rowbothams, lived in one of these Fenton houses. I love to hear of personal connections with the buildings and streets that I draw. It brings them to life. This is a name that I can add along with the Hammersley family – more about that on the blog link above.

Two brick built terraces in Fenton, Stoke on Trent

I’m often asked why I choose to draw a particular street – this one threw a hook out as I was driving past when we were living in Staffordshire. I had to pull over to take a second look as I couldn’t get over how beautifully thought out it was with all the brick detailing and decorative terracotta tiles.

It also reminded me of the building where I used to work at Horsley Huber Architects – 134 Newport Road Stafford. Here’s the old work family! The photo info states that it was taken 19 years ago, 1 Jan 2003 – it must have been a mild day. There I am in the lilac top front left – still with brown hair!

Staff at Horsley Huber Architects, sometime around 2003 I think

We’re all a good bit older now and we’ve since had to say goodbye to a dear friend Ken (back, 4th from right) RIP.

Inking up the front of the buildings.

Returning to my drawing – these buildings are on Victoria Road and Hitchman Street, in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.

You can imagine that it was a real pleasure to draw a street like this – it’s an uncommon find. If you want to discover more about Stoke’s creative tiles, have a look at Ceramic City Stories.

I use a mapping nib in a Brause dip pen. This gives me a flexible line.

Last of all, here’s the final limited edition print with both streets set together within a double mount. Barewall Gallery in Burslem have a framed print in stock which you can buy online here.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ronnie 🙂

Posting a card

I love to receive a card in the post. I think that a beautiful card sent through the post still represents great value and I have a couple of drawers full of my favourites that I’ve kept over the years.

Set of six cards of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre

With this in mind, I decided to make a set of high resolution cards of six of my Newcastle-under-Lyme drawings. You can see them all below.

Market Cross, Newcastle-under-Lyme

There is just the one set available in my Etsy shop. Please do have a look!

They are a standard 5 x 7 inch size and would look great popped into a frame!

The Barracks, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Timothy Guttridge on the High Street
The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery
Newcastle High Street looking towards Red Lion Square and St Giles’ church
The Guildhall and Market Cross
Set of six cards of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre

Thanks for reading

Ronnie 🙂

Jura: a surprise trip

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a camping trip with Iain. Long enough to have almost forgotten about the many small biting things that are about at this time of year but very excited by the thought of soaking up Jura’s dramatic landscape (dram-tastic all round!) .

Cake stop along the side of Loch Awe

We set off on Friday to catch the ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askraig on Islay. It’s then a short ferry crossing to Jura.

I took a load of art kit with me but in the end it was the pocket sketchbook, watercolours and the fine liner pen that were the most portable as we did a bit more walking than anticipated. All well worth it!

Midges are bearable when you have a camping spot beside the Jura Distillery and a few steps to the bar of the Jura Hotel. Plus the midge coils work – thanks Iain!

All this plus the view below.

View from the campsite in Craighouse, Jura
A wee dram

At 7am next morning there was only the sound of Iain firing up the stove, oyster catchers and the passenger ferry….

Saturday morning – view east towards the Cowall Peninsula

…but this didn’t last! Craighouse was soon all go with nearby grass being strimmed and these lads up working on the distillery first thing.

View west towards Jura distillery

We packed up and went north of Tarbert and south of Inverlussa and set out on foot to Cruib Lodge Bothy. It was a wee bit more of a stride than aniticpated with wet feet and my best bog language for some parts but it was all worth the effort.

Just a few of the many wild flowers out on Jura including orchids, tormentil, bog asphodel and sundew. Lots of this year’s frogs too and otters swimming in the bay opposite the bothy.

Sunday morning and time to depart
View towards Caol Ila Distillery on Islay

Final view of the Paps of Jura from Port Askaig.

A brilliant trip and it feels like I’ve been away months.

Thanks for reading,
Ronnie

Acomb: Cats and Connections

93-105 Front Street, Acomb York

I thought it was time to share a look behind the scenes at my drawings of Front Street, Acomb, York – the village where I grew up. Let’s dive into my studio to take a closer look at this first drawing of Front Street, from Nos 93-105.

I start by roughing out the street in pencil then transcribing the outline onto a long sheet of heavy watercolour paper. I’ve always used Fabriano 300gsm acid free 100% archival cotton paper. It has a lovely rough texture. I use a flexible mapping pen nib which gives a variety of line thickness and the paper is sturdy enough to take the paint. It’s also strudy enough to handle a reclining cat!

Clean paws and dry brush…

Josh often lies out beside me as I work – he has done this ever since we first collected him from the North Staffs RSCPA in 2016.

We were told by the RSPCA to be patient as he was terrified of people and it might take him months to come round. That was fine by us, so we brought him home and left him to settle a few metres from my work table.

It was only a matter of days before Josh had to find out what was taking all my attention. I was engrossed in drawing the first of my Eccleshall streets and he couldn’t resist climbing up to see what was going on. Pencils, pens, erasors – all targets for paws. It was our first point of connection and six years on he still jumps up here to greet me.

Mapping the outline of the buildings in ink

I’ve always covered most of the drawing apart from where I’m working; newsprint paper protects it from most splashes and spills and I only move it out of the way to photograph. It’s been a handy working practice!

Mini lions as gate posts.

I’ve used a light fast permanent ink here in Sepia (rather than black or Payne’s Grey) as a warmer base colour to complement the rich red ochres of the brickwork. Front Street is full of soft red brick buildings and red terracotta roof tiles; I use earth pigments for these.

Building up depth of colour in thin layers

Front Street is in Acomb’s conservation area. Acomb has a stong sense of place and history and you can read ten curious facts about it in a clever blog by the cat crime fiction writer James Barrie. Yes, I did say ‘cat’ crime…

Brause dip pen used with a mapping pen nib
The sky added last of all.

As soon as the street is complete, I wrap it in glassine paper and store in a 30cm diameter carboard tube out of harms way until I can scan it and arrange for prints.

Completed original drawing of 93-105 Front Street, Acomb

I released the first set of limited edition giclee prints a few weeks ago and they sold very quickly! The next set are listed in my Etsy Shop and already one of these has sold. I’m only releasing a small print run of the Acomb drawings: 30 prints at 60cm long and 10 prints at 90cm. If you would like to order one – please get in touch.

The four drawings of Front Street, Acomb, as numbered signed giclee prints.

Acomb Library is also stocking some of my greetings cards – a few examples below.

Cards of Front Street, Acomb

As always, thanks for reading.

Ronnie 🙂

Acomb in a few Sketches

My sister celebrates her birthday in June – a great reason to head south to Acomb to celebrate together and to sketch some of the familiar sights of the village where I grew up.

Dad used to grow peonies in the old place in Hobgate

Acomb has a strong sense of place and features in the Domesday Book (1086) when it consisted of some 14 houses. Its name most likely derives from the old English Acum – meaning ‘at the oaks’.

Acomb Green is in the middle edged by mature trees. There’s a slight slope on the land on one side where there’s a childrens’ formal play area. Some 50+ years ago it was a great destination when it snowed – perfect for kids on a toboggan including our family!

Sketching the Sun Inn and St Stephen’s Church on Acomb Greenphoto credit Megs!

Long before this, The Green used to be a sand quarry and there are some great photographs in an article in the Yorkshire Evening Press. Stephen Lewis writes: “The Green was originally known as ‘Yarcomb Sand’oil’, apparently, or the ‘Acomb sandhole’. It is said that this was where sand was extracted for sale in the streets in York – and reputedly for making the glass that went into the great medieval windows of York Minster.”

The Sun Inn with St Stephen’s Church Tower behind

The Green is triangular, defined by three roads. This side here shows York Road (B1224) where you can see the profile of St Stephen’s Church tower – the building itself is set well back from the road.

Lychgate leading to St Stephen’s Church, Acomb

This is a great vantage point to see further afield. As the notice says, the church has a trig point marking it 33.5m above sea level and you can see for miles on a clear day.

This was a morning for quick sketches so we moved along to Front Street to sketch what used to be the Wesleyan Chapel; it’s now private flats.

The Old Chapel, Front Street, Acomb

Whilst looking up some history of Acomb, I came across a blog ‘Acomb – York Stories’ which although written in 2006 has received comments and Acomb anecdotes for over a decade after. It includes a photo of the Chapel in a former life as Ebor Carpets with white-washed brickwork.

29 Front Street, Home to WRDunn Architects and Building Surveyors

Just time to sign off with the exciting news that a set of 60cm size limited edition prints of all four of my Front Street Acomb drawings are hot-off-the-press ready to buy from my Esty shop which can be reached via my website here. Only nine prints available of the 90cm size – please get in touch if you would like to place an order.

Front Street – Love the long views between the buildings

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie 🙂

The Brampton – Where Broom Grows

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, detail of the red brick elevation, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Three storeys of beautiful red brickwork

Broom grows outside my kitchen window here in Scotland – I love the intense yellow after the greys of winter.  Broom links me to my next drawing in my red ochre series: the Brampton Museum in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The name Brampton means ‘place where broom grew’ – I wonder if any still grows in the park?

Broom outside my window in Hazelbank

The Museum is located just outside Newcastle-under-Lyme’s town centre in Brampton Park, surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, detail of the eaves and windows, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Deep overhanging eaves of the Brampton Museum

Long before this became a park, this was common land grazed and cultivated by the town burgesses. Eventually, the field was sold and Victorian villas were built – including ‘The Firs’ in 1855 and ‘Pitfield House’. The gardens of these Villas now make up the present park. You can read more about the history of the park here.

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, Newcastle Under Lyme, detail of the windows, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Detail of a former doorway
Look out for curious details

Twenty one years after ‘The Firs’ was built, Newcastle’s first museum was born just off the Ironmarket in Lad Lane. This consisted of a public library, a reading room and museum.

It was during the early years of WW2 that the Borough Museum was founded in the Lancaster Buildings. Eventually it moved to its current location in Brampton Park. You can read more about the history here – written by Neville Malkin, 9th June 1976.

The Russian Canon outside the museum
The Market Cross and the Russian Canon

Here’s the drawing in full. You can see the rest of my red ochre series of Newcastle-under-Lyme on my website Drawing the Street or browse my Etsy shop where the originals are for sale (available to buy at the time of writing).

The complete drawing of the side elevation of the Brampton

The second drawing of the Brampton shows the side towards Pitfield House, with some of the garden and more of the wonderful roofscape.

View from the play area side

I’ll sign off with a picture from the 2019 exhibition at the Brampton ‘Capturing the Past’. I was delighted that my collection of street drawings were included in the exhibition – they’ve been part of the Museum archive since 2018.

Thanks for reading

Ronnie 🙂

To Market To Market

pen and ink drawing of Newcastle under Lyme markets and the guildhall
Market Cross with the market stalls behind

Newcastle town centre is alive with markets! Back in the 13th century, there was only the one market day but now markets are held 6 days a week with an additional one held monthly on a Sunday.

This is the second of six new red ochre sketches of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre – the full set can be seen on my website Drawing the Street.

Chatting outside the Guildhall

The history of the markets is ancient. There’s an in-depth write up on the town’s history on the British History website: there is evidence that a market was held in Newcastle-under-Lyme as far back as 1203 when the market day was changed from Sunday to Saturday, for which the burgesses had to pay a fine to the king. I bet the good folk of ‘Castle didn’t go much on that.

pen and ink drawing of the Guildhall in Newcastle under Lyme by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Southern view of the Guildhall on the High Street

It’s possible that the market day remained unchanged until 1590 when under Elizabeth I’s charter, market day was declared to be Monday and it remained so until the beginning of the 19th century when an additional Saturday was added to meet a larger population.

Here’s the drawing in full.

Market Cross and the Guildhall, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Let’s take a few steps to the left and look at the market cross from a different angle. The market cross was located further up the street in medieval times, opposite the Ironmarket.

Lamps at the top of the Market Cross
Detail at the street

It required some restoration work in the mid-1500s when it’s thought that the five steps were built. Later, in the early 1800s it was moved to the present location when the lamps were added.

Market Cross with the High Street behind

The finished original drawings are set in standard 10 x 12 inch mounts ready to frame and now listed with full description in my Etsy shop.

If you’re looking for a print instead – please get in touch.

Market Cross and the Guildhall

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ronnie

Look up! Lanimer Day 2022

Over the course of a week, there have been two back-to-back celebrations here in Lanark. The Platinum Jubilee has led straight into Lanimer Day 2022.

A Crown for the Jubilee

I thought it was timely to share a few sketches of Lanark to mark this lively time of year and I have to include the parts of the town that appeal to me most – the roofscapes, windows, chimneys, towers and eaves…..and the colourful bunting that makes it all feel like summer is here at last, even with grey skies!

Crown Tavern on Hope Street, Lanark
Tower on St Nicholas Church seen from Hyndford Place

Chimneys, roofscapes and church spires….

Jacks the Ironmongers – you name it – they’ve got it. Fantastic shop.

Jacks on Hyndford Place – Lanark
Buckets, wheel barrows, bird tables and watering cans

Here’s the top of North Vennel. In a few weeks there will be a dinosaur lurking around here.

Top of North Vennel

Signing off with Tea Time on the corner of the town where Castlegate meets Hyndford Place.

If you see any work that you would like as a print – just get in touch. I’ve recently topped up my Etsy shop so please have a look!

Thanks for reading and Happy Lanimer Day 2022

Ronnie 🙂

The Old Barracks

Waiting for the X164 bus from Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre back to Whitmore was a sketch moment. My car must have been getting fixed at Ryan’s garage – sketched here the year before.

I keep places/buildings that I find interesting in mind to draw later – in this case several years later! Recently I’ve concentrated on some new sketches in and around the town centre and I thought I would start sharing the first of them ‘The Barracks’, here.

Roofline of the Barracks Workshops

Barracks Road was once named Friar’s Road; the name changed in recognition of the Barracks. It was built in 1855, in red brick ‘Italian style’. This was the headquarters of the 3rd King’s Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment, which assembled annually at Newcastle for training, until 1880.

You can discover more about the history of this building here on the Potteries website. I’m delighted to hear that it received a grant a few years ago towards window repairs.

Entrance to courtyard

The Barracks workshops is now home to a number of small businesses and has been popping up on various social media posts.

There is also a heritage project running which is looking for people who have memories of the history and uses of this building – more about that on the Sentinel’s website here.

You can see the full set of new drawings on my Drawing the Street website.

The original drawing of the Barracks is available to buy mounted and ready to frame in my etsy shop here .

Thanks for reading

Ronnie 🙂

Step Inside for some Tolbooth Art!

Let’s have a look around the Tolbooth main gallery area at ground level. The side windows face up the length of the High Street and it’s worth taking a look in every few days as work is sold and new art brought in.

Beautiful wooden bowl by Willy Watson, jewellery by Ann Ross, abstract painting by Allan Wood
Textiles by Beth Fleming

Lovely hand-made hats and textiles by Beth Fleming as well as this wee chappie’s bandanas. This is Boothby, the Tolbooth dog. He was given a bit of a fluff-up and a new outfit from Beth and now models the bandanas and tasty dog treats.

‘Boothby’ – the Tolbooth dog
Wooden birds and deer by Willie Watson and necklace by Ann Ross
Brilliant designs by Dave Randall and Andrew Rennie

Look out for artwork by Jean Mellin, Kirsten Harris, Pat McKenzie and Jane Charlton.

Below, some fun wee pirates and elves by Dianne McNaughton – check out her amazing paintings here. Hand-crafted wire-wrapped jewellery by Hanne Harris and necklace by Jean Mellin. A variety of beautiful pottery by artist/ceramicist Richard Price. Glass robins by Sian Press.

Second row Annie Stillman‘s hand -painted hearts, evergreen glass mistletoes by Biggar Glass, stylish glass Christmas trees by Carol Shoel and the wee cottages by Nikki Lambi of Material Geeks.

Bottom row we have hand sewn fabric coasters by the multi-talented artist Evelyn McEwan, walking pebble figures by Gemma Lamara, wee bear (with mask in pocket) by Lisa Ritchie, glass stars by Carol Shoel.

This year, there is a focus to raise funds to improve access to the first floor of the Tolbooth. The Tolbooth is supported by a team of committed volunteers who know what a good thing this place is for the town. Even buying a pack of cards helps!

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie