All posts by ronniecruwys

Trained as conservation architect and worked in Stafford for 13 years. I now work in the traditional arts and draw architectural street elevations of the older parts of towns and exhibit these locally. I am a graduate of Aidan Hart's Icon Diploma course, run by the Prince's School of Traditional Arts and attend local drawing classes with David Brammeld and calligraphy classes with Oliver Leech. I live in Staffordshire with my husband and our pets - a chesapeake bay retriever, 2 cats and our 46 year old tortoise.

Drawing the Street Together in Eccleshall

fire station in Eccleshall now Kru by Ronnie Cruwys
Kru, once the fire station, Mo and Peel House, Eccleshall High Street

I’ve just completed my ninth Eccleshall street drawing.  There are more streets to draw (Gaol Butts, Castle Street and Small Lane) but I’m happy that I’ve drawn enough to share on the walls of Eccleshall Library and Gallery at 12 in my forthcoming twin exhibitions this November.

Why on earth did I opt for Drawing the Street ‘Together’ in the same town? Well, as a member of Staffordshire Artists Cooperative, we take it in turn for a monthly exhibition upstairs in Gallery at 12. After two years, my first turn is this November!

Having drawn a few streets elsewhere in Staffordshire, I decided to hire the exhibition area in Eccleshall library, a few doors along where I will display my Eccleshall drawings.  Gallery at 12 will hold my Staffordshire drawings. These venues are only a few doors apart as you can see below.

eccleshall High Street Exhibition Together by Ronnie Cruwys
A few doors between

To bring you up to date with the most recent drawing, it starts from Kru and extends to the 1960’s sheltered housing ‘John Pershall Court’ on the High Street. You can see it in full here.

pen and ink drawing of Eccleshall by Ronnie Cruwys
Galley at 12 artists Jo Hill, Helen Cartlidge and Jo Hearn, chatting together on the High Street

This drawing includes three fellow artists from Staffordshire Artists Cooperative: Jo Hill, Jo Hearn and Helen Cartlidge and her dog Tatty, the latter who live on this part of the street.

Eccleshall artists on the high street
Three artists and a dog

Helen and I are October birthday buddies – sharing the same date of birth but there has been no let up for either of us this year!  As soon as the prints are ready, they are round to Helen for framing. Thanks Helen.

Before this was a drawing of 3-19 Stafford Street, from Daru Chini restaurant to Perrys the Butcher.

pen and ink art of eccleshall
Daru Chini Restaurant, Eccleshall Fish Bar and the side of the Coop, Stafford Street, Eccleshall

Local historian Jan Baker has kindly given me some insights into some of the more hidden features of the town such as the listed milestone, tucked discreetly behind a planter.  Jan is featured walking past – a tribute to her with my thanks.

KIngs Arms Eccleshall Ronnie Cruwys
Jan Baker walking past the Kings Arms, Eccleshall, milestone behind the planter.

I would love to invite you to come and visit this lovely rural town and to see the exhibitions. They are up between 1-30 November. Limited edition prints are all available to buy after the exhibition or order sooner as unframed prints.

If you are free on Tuesday 7th November, I will be having a  Drawing the Street Welcome Evening I would love to see you there!

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

 

 

St Kilda – a world away from home

pen and ink sketch of st kilda village
Abandoned village on St Kilda

I heard of St Kilda when we first went to Harris and Lewis 27 years ago. I’ve wanted to visit it ever since so you can imagine how excited I was when we received a gift of a pair of tickets for a day trip with Kilda Cruises (thank you Marie!).

In brief, St Kilda is the remains of what was once a volcano active 60 million years ago. There are four main islands (Hirta, Soay, Boreray and Dun) and a number of spectacular sea stacs. Hirta has the highest sea cliffs in the British isles and and Stac an Armin is the highest sea stac. Boreray is home to the world’s largest colony of gannets.

For thousands of years, a small community had lived on these islands but in 1930 the last few islanders left which brought their unique way of life to an end. The remains of this deserted village extends in a ribbon around the bay.

We knew it would be hit and miss with the weather and decided to make the 1100+ mile round trip to Leverburgh on Harris taking our chances on the last available dates of the year. Trips are only confirmed the evening before as poor weather conditions restrict landings on the island.

This is a trip that I know many of my friends and family would love to make but may never manage so I would like to share some photos and a few sketches. St Kilda has a street which I would love to draw one day.

Leaving our home in Staffordshire at 5am last Tuesday, we set off for Ullapool.

1 Road to Ullapool RonnieCruwys
Road to Ullapool
2 Ullapool bay RonnieCruwys
Enjoying the view from Ullapool’s Ferry Boat Inn.
3 Ullapool to Stornaway ferry
Evening ferry to Stornaway
Back packers bunkhouse Tarbert
Back Packers Stop in Tarbert, Harris

We reached Tarbert on Harris by 9.30pm where we had booked in for two nights in the Back Packers Stop, where we shared an 8-bed dorm with cyclists, walkers and bikers! Our trip to St Kilda had been cancelled for the following day so we spent a day on the south side of Harris.

Watching herons on the Golden Road
Watching herons on the Golden Road
Temple Cafe Harris
‘Money tree’ stuffed with coins and notes supporting the roof of the Temple Cafe

We stopped for a coffee at the Temple Cafe where we overheard a chap say that he had just heard that St Kilda was on for tomorrow! Woohoo!

Hirta Kilda Cruises Sept 2017 RonnieCruwys
The ‘Hirta’ at Leverburgh Jetty at 7.30am
5 Dolphins KildaCruise
Dolphins and porpoises joining us on our way out
6 Hirta view1 KildaCruises
St Kilda with Stac an Armin to the left
7 Hirta St Kilda view2 RonnieCruwys
Arrival on Hirta
St Kilda Street RonnieCruwys
Deserted homes of the St Kildans
Anne Gillies House no12 St Kilda RonnieCruwys
Each home has a named slate – No 12 was once home to Ann Gillies
Stephens ink from Highbury on ST kilda
Stephen’s Ink from Highbury London, in the school house.
soay sheep st kilda ronnie cruwys
Soay sheep (direct descendants of Bronze age sheep) enjoying a back scratch
pen ink and wash of Dun St Kilda
Skyline of Dun from the House of the Fairies
An underground store dating from 500bc to AD300 known as the House of the Fairies
An underground store dating from 500BC to AD300 – known as the ‘House of the Fairies’
St Kilda Bay RonnieCruwys
Looking towards Dun
St Kilda Sea Stacs 1ronniecruwys
St Kilda stacs with gannets circling
St Kilda Stacs 2 Ronnie Cruwys
St Kilda Stacs

St Kilda Ronnie CruwysSt Kilda Stacs 3 Ronnie Cruwys

return st kilda
Leaving St Kilda

We have been so very lucky to have visited these remote islands. The crew of Kilda Cruises were first class – my thanks to them and to you for reading and hope that this has given you a flavour of the extraordinary place that is St Kilda.

Ronnie

 

Forgotten pubs around the Hornsey Road

Gourmet coffee stoke station
Coffee from Gourmet Cafe Stoke Station

Back to the London sketchbook. All trips to London start with a tea from Gourmet on Platform1, Stoke Station.  Here are a few sketches which I made around the Hornsey Road which runs parallel to Holloway Road, drawn over several visits.

On some of these trips, I enjoy making tiny thumbnail sketches in less than two minutes, then adding a bit of colour at home.

London bus no 253 Holloway road
253 to Nags Head, Holloway Road

It’s surprising what you can catch when you know you only have seconds when the bus stops. 

sketches from the bus stop
A few bus stop sketches

On my way to the Hornsey Road, I walked past Royal Northern Gardens, a park created in 2002 on Manor Gardens. The Royal Northern Hospital opened in 1888 and once stood on this site.  A new Casualty Department was opened in 1923 following WW1 as a memorial to the people of Islington and these rainwater hopper heads caught my eye, having been salvaged from the subsequent demolitions in the mid 1990s. They are now part of the memorial wall and used as planters.

sketch of rainwater hopper Manor Road Holloway
Rainwater hopper head from the former Royal Northern Hospital

Heading down Bavaria Road, I stopped to draw the ghost sign from the former Alexander Coffee Tavern. it turns out that this was once home of The Blenheim Arms, 395 Hornsey Road. Following closure this became a temperance pub called The Alexandra Coffee Tavern.

Blenheim Road
Look above the road sign and you can just make out the former Blenheim Road name
Sketch of the Alexandra Coffee tavern Bavaria Road
Alexandra Coffee Tavern on the Hornsey Road

Another old sign caught my attention – ‘Plough Stables’. I was joined while I sketched by Martin and his dog Barney and I discovered it too was once a pub, a favourite of Martin’s dad.

sketch of Plough Stables Hornsey Rd London N7
Plough Stables, Hornsey Rd
Mosque which was once a pub
Mosque on Hornsey Road which was once a pub – there’s a green man over the door!

Then sketching this ornate entrance to the Mosque, it too was once a pub – I smiled when I learned it was called the Hanley Arms.

I usually have to go inside to warm up at some point and since a kind person brought me out a green tea from the Rusty Bike Cafe, I went in for a bite to eat.

 

sketch inside Rusty Bike Cafe, Hornsey Road
Warming up inside the Rusty Bike Cafe, Hornsey Road

I will sign off with this sketch of an old red phone box, not so many around these days.

George Gilbert Scott design telephone box Hornsey Road
One of the original George Gilbert Scott design telephone boxes

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

 

Sketchbook scan tips

Colquhoun lodge banner.jpg

Rhomany’s Realm of Urban Sketchers Stoke-on-Trent recently asked me this great question: “Can you give us any tips on scanning/photographing your sketches for sharing online?”  I thought it was worth taking some time to answer.

With most mobile smart phones, it’s straightforward enough to take a great photo, crop and edit it and post on line. Here’s an example from a few years ago, when I began with indoor sketching, the softies option. I took this pic with my camera and although it looks ok, it doesn’t really engage the viewer with the content of the sketch.

colquhoun lodge
Early indoor urban sketches

I’m sure that most people can do a much better job than this with their phones and the wide range of editing tools available but over the last few years, I’ve found I get a fresher and more consistent image by scanning the sketch.

I keep a record of most of my sketches and file them by date and location. I scan them as a jpeg at a medium resolution (300dpi),  on a six year old Canon MG5250 scanner/printer.

When I place the sketch book on the scanner, I press the lid down to flatten the spine so as to get an even scan up to the binding otherwise the edges are blurred. This works up to within 1cm of the spine and it’s worth bearing in mind to keep any penwork away from the spine when sketching. Pressing down also helps flatten bumpy page surfaces.

Here’s the unedited scan of the sketch. You can see the blurred lettering where the spine can’t quite lie flat.

Colquhoun lodge unedited.jpg

The next thing to do is to crop the image and get rid of any unwanted parts in Photoshop or Microsoft Picture Editor.

I’ve cropped the image below but the lettering still looks fuzzy so I opted to lose it for the shared image and cropped it again.

Chateau Bill edit 1.jpg

There are lots of tools for colour corrections but I often end up using the ‘auto-correct’ tools to enhance contrast which lifts the mist from the image.

Colquhoun lodge Cruwys
Bill’s holiday cottage supplies

I add my web address in the image as a reference so when it sails off into the ethers, it retains a reference to my website. I prefer to keep the web address fairly discreet so as not to distract from the sketch. I also save the image at a lower resolution so it looks fine on screen but isn’t sharp enough to print.

This is a simplified description of my editing and like all these things, I could go into it in more detail, so any questions, just ask. That said – I may not know the answer!

I have all my street drawings scanned, colour corrected and printed professionally by Smith York Fine Art Printers as it gets quite complex.

Although this process takes up a bit of time, it’s an organised way to keep your sketches so you can find them easily and it’s also a record in case your sketchbook gets drenched in rain or coffee or your cat decides to help out…

Normans Paw.jpg

by the paw of Norman.jpg

Happy sketching and thanks for reading.

Ronnie

Shake a leg for #sot2021

sketch of feet in Stoke on Trent
Feet up Hanley Duck

Funny how waiting in a queue is now something I enjoy. There’s always something to draw. I started with one foot, then a bit of leg then another…

Back to this month. I’ve had a great time sketching in Burslem, the mother town of the Potteries,  starting with this one of Market Place, one of the streets which I’ve already drawn formally a few years ago which you can see here.

urban sketch of the Leopard Burslem
Post Office (new-ish) and the Leopard, Burslem

Good to see the repairs on the Post Office by Horsley Huber Architects looking nicely weathered in.

I then moved down to St John’s Square to sketch the New Inn.

sketch by ronnie Cruwys of New Inn Burslem
New Inn, Market Place, Burslem.

This Bank Holiday Monday the town burst into life with its summer festival “Our Burslem Unites

Stoke Urban Sketchers got together for the event and to enjoy capturing the flavour of the day. Here are a few of mine.

sketch of Burslem School of Art from the Wedgwood Institute
Looking out from those big Wedgwood Doors

urban sketch of burslem

fun and games in Burslem
Fun and Games on the Corner of Queen Street
Burslem Unites urban sketch ronnie cruwys
Hook a Duck – a prize every time

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Station Cottages on the Grand Junction Railway

pen and ink monochrome
1-10 Station Cottages Baldwins Gate Staffordshire

I live a few hundred metres from the site of Whitmore’s old railway station booking office. The station itself closed in 1952. On first sight there’s nothing more remarkable than a blue plaque on a building with boarded up windows.

Even though I’ve lived in the area for 15 years, I didn’t pay much attention to it until a couple of years ago, when Staffordshire historian Andrew Dobraszczyc held a guided local history walk around Whitmore to speak about the influence that the new railway had on the buildings in our area.

Andrew informed us that construction of our present railway line, built by the Grand Junction Railway Company, began in 1835 and Whitmore was one of the principal stations on the line being the nearest to the Potteries.

station cottages photo
Roof tops of Station Cottages

During the walk, Andrew drew our attention to a short row of terraced houses tucked mostly out of sight behind the booking office. They are on a cul de-sac, set back from the main road and mostly hidden behind trees.

 

station cottages photo baldwins gate
Catching a glimpse of the cottages to the side of the Booking Office

 

When the railway first came to Whitmore, the company built four railway cottages, ‘two up, two down’ with a wash house out the back where 1841 records show that railway porters had made them their homes.

 

Station Cottages Baldwins Gate.jpg
Two friendly cats – one name Bella.

 

A few years later, another few cottages were added and they now stand at ten. These are worth recording and I made a few sketches before beginning the formal architectural drawing.

rain clouds station cottages
Second phase of the railway cottages

It’s timely to reflect on these buildings now because as I write the new HS2 railway line is mapped out to pass very close by here but this time around it won’t be stopping at Whitmore.  These buildings will remain, but there are many homes which are now up for sale where the line crosses their path.

pen and ink red ochre line drawing
First cottages to be built in the 1840’s were No’s 1-4

I will be scanning the drawing soon and plan to include this in my November exhibition at Gallery at 12 in Eccleshall. There will also be a small run of limited edition prints. Please get in touch (RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk) if you would like me to reserve a print.

pen and ink drawing baldwins gate station cottages
No’s 8, 9 and 10 Station Cottages, Baldwins Gate

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Urban Sketches from the Holloway Road

Any urban sketcher knows that it’s almost impossible to walk past an art shop without looking inside and buying at least a new pencil. So, when I walked past Cowling and Wilcox, on Holloway Road a few years ago, I gave in to a new Daler Rowney sketch book, about A5 size.

I go to London regularly – partly family visits to our son and also to draw some of my Great North Road street drawing series, Holloway Road.

Ronnie Cruwys Urban Sketching Holloway road
Photo outside Cowling and Wilcox thanks to @seanazzillustration

This ancient route has shown up at key points in my life: at school in York, going to University in Edinburgh and now as our son has made his home beside it. I’ve made a start drawing chunks of the buildings along the Holloway Road and the photo above is on one of the sunnier days sketching out Denmark Place preparing for the formal architectural drawing. It’s only when you stop to draw that you notice things like date stones way up the top.

photo of Denmark Place Holloway Road
Denmark Place Built 1863

Back to the sketch book. I decided to keep this one just for sketching during my London visits. Three years later, it’s full!

Page in sketchbook for Holloway Road
Page One dedicated to the Holloway Road

I’d like to share some of the content from time to time. All the sketches are made on location and most sketched in about five minutes. Less than minutes for my wobbly sketches from the top of a bus!

It’s easy enough to spot the ones made in the time taken to enjoy a brew in a cafe.

skethc of Odeon, Tuffnell park, Holloway Road
Window on the Odeon Cinema, Holloway Road
sketch of windows on Albermarle MAnsions
Windows on Albermarle Mansions
pen and ink sketch of Albermarle MAnsions
Detail of a door on Albermarle Mansions
Pen and ink drawing of the Odeon cinema Holloway road
Odeon from La Scelta Cafe Holloway Road
pen and ink sketch of Hollywood Cafe on Holloway Road
View from the Golden Croissant
sketch of the Eaglet pub on Seven sisters Road London
The Eaglet on Seven Sisters Road
print of Holloway Road Denmark Place
Limited edition print of drawing of 81 -129 Holloway Road

More sketches of Holloway Road to follow soon, but if you are in Highbury, pop in to The Only Place For Pictures and see a few more London streets.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie