Living and working in the Clyde Valley, South Lanarkshire, drawing, sketching, painting and exploring my new Scottish life and surroundings. Graduate of Aidan Hart's Icon Diploma course, run by the Prince's School of Traditional Arts. Please visit my other blogs https://drawingthestreet.com https://drawingthedetail.com/ and https://www.icondiplomastudent.com and main website https://www.drawingthestreet.co.uk
Sometimes the long street scenes don’t catch all that I want to include. There are countless vignettes here in Lanark which I’ve made a start on sketching as part of my exhibition ‘Streets of Lanark’ in the Tolbooth from Monday 28th Oct for a fortnight.
I’ve added all these sketches in a new page in this blog ‘Lanark Sketches’. Click over to see them all including some cropped close ups as I know my other sketching friends reading here like to have a good close look.
Of course I had to include the real local hero ‘the Girnin Dug/Dog/Doogie’. Couldn’t decide which was his best side, so drew them all, including a close-up!
Thanks for reading and hoping to see one or two of you at the exhibition.
These last few days have had a theme – archives. Actually, the theme has woven between archived sketchbooks of artists who have gone before us and sketching graveyards with some monumental archival gravestones.
I spent yesterday morning with my Paintbox classmates and the archivist at Edinburgh Gallery of Modern Art Two soaking up every detail we could from the sketchbooks of Mary Newbery, William Crozier, William MacTaggart, Joan Eardley, James Mackintosh Patrick, Josef Sekalski and Oskar Kokoshka. All these sketchbooks are available for anyone to look at by appointment. No photos, but we can use pencils to make sketches and notes…
It’s very moving being present to witness these private moments of an artist. Through their sketches, they share that same frame of mind when they were in that sketching space, recording what they saw, then years pass and here we are, in the Reading Room, observers for a few passing minutes, seeing with their eyes.
After our time in the Reading Room, we went out with our own sketchbooks to find a quiet corner and sketch. Dean graveyard is right behind the gallery and it’s a mini-city of high-rise head stones. The trees are winning though with their majestic presence and golden canopies.
Mary Newbery’s sketchbook included a line drawing of flowers against a painted green/grey background. Nothing at all as clumsy as this sketch – but this will remind me of her work.
Today I was back getting ready for my exhibition at the Tolbooth which will be on from next Monday, here in Lanark. As you know, all my streets are drawn as archives but there’s always so much more I want to include.
When I drew Kirk Road Dalserf, I felt that the street was incomplete without some sketch of this significant Covenanter’s church so I’m happy that I completed a sketch today. The original will be framed and on display by next week.
I’m planning to post more about my work that’s going up in the Tolbooth as the people who pass by this page are miles away from here. I’m happy enough to share my work as long as you are kind enough to give up your time to read.
This post is dedicated to Colina, our neighbour here on the Braes, who passed away last night taking almost a century of memories with her.
This is West Port in Lanark, my new Scottish home town which I’m enjoying getting to know as I draw and share my work online.
Since moving here last summer, I’ve drawn six Lanark streets, all of which had something to catch my eye. How timely that the Tolbooth Lanark is kindly hosting an exhibition of my drawings of these streets just as I’ve reached the milestone of 50 drawings.
It will be on from Mon 28th October to Sat 9th November where I will be showing these as well as Kirk Road in Dalserf and a few originals from York, where I grew up.
You have to keep your eyes on the road whilst driving along West Port but it’s one of the key ancient streets – or ports – in Lanark, steeped in history and legend if you scratch below the surface. The town became a Royal Burgh in 1140 so there was plenty going on before this date to be granted this noble status.
I haven’t had much time to update you on work in progress lately so let me skim over the last few streets which I’ve drawn here. They are on my website now where you can see them in more detail. Broomgate (not to be confused with Bloomgate), runs at a right angle to the High Street.
Broomgate is a street which holds a rich and varied history. To focus on no 38, its past use includes a school, a house for the headmaster of Lanark Grammar School (early 19C), a Poorhouse in the 19-20thC and possibly used as a Drill Hall in WW1.
This isn’t a history blog but I do like to record anything relevant for my archive blog drawingthedetail. If you have any knowledge of the past uses for any of these buildings I would love to hear from you.
Living history happens as I draw and I love it when I can record the people who belong to the street. Here on my Broomgate drawing you can see Ainsley from Nirvana Yoga (being followed by a passing rainbow as I drew) and Kym, who runs the Wallace Tea Rooms, spotted for a moment sitting outside with me this summer.
Heading back along the High Street and around the corner towards Wellgate you will discover another street full of traditional colourful Scottish rendered buildings. Gone are the Staffordshire bricks!
If you look closely at the bottom of the chimney stack you can see the initials DW and a date carved into the masonry – 1893.
Spot the smaller proportions/roof line of these older shops below.
As with all my drawings, I scan them at high resolution and have a small number of signed limited edition giclee prints available.
These will be available to buy/order during the exhibition at the Tolbooth or get in touch RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk. More information is available on my website Drawing the Street
Next post I will tell you about my sketches of Lanark that I have drawn just for the exhibition – all being framed at the moment but here is the first one…
My sincere thanks for reading and an extra big thank you to those who have been with me over the last few years!
The more streets that I drew, the clearer I became on what it was all about. It’s simple and selfish – I only draw the streets that are meaningful to me in some way.
Sometimes it’s because some detail has caught my eye and sometimes streets link me to family and friends. This way I connect with each street and I get lost in the hours that sink into each drawing.
The other thing that is really important to me is that I draw them as architectural and social records. These are my surroundings as I find them now. The people on the drawings were there at the time, including the chap taking a breather from working in the Hope Cafe.
Each street is gradually added to my archive blog where I break the streets into individual buildings and add insights of history that I discover as I go along. It’s a slow but steady process but it really gives you an idea of what Drawing the Street is all about.
From time to time someone suggests a street for me to draw, including complete strangers! I always consider it because I might find it as interesting as they do and sometimes surprising connections unfold in the drawing of it.
Mount Parade, York was one such street. I was planning to draw the street nearby when a gentleman walked past me, stopped and asked whether I knew about the street just around the corner.
I must have cycled past the end of this street countless times going back and forth to town and had missed it all these years!
As my streets gathered pace I became a member of Staffordshire Artists Cooperative and displayed my work in Gallery at 12 where I later held a joint exhibition with the library to display all my local street scenes. Another exhibition followed on a few months later in Blossom Street Gallery in York.
The best part for me is discovering and acknowledging the people who lived in these places, the lives that have gone ahead of me. For instance, I discovered that Charles Hammersley set out from this house almost a century ago, only to be killed in France in WW1.
I haven’t mentioned how much urban sketching is part of the fabric of Drawing the Street – it’s where I meet people and really get the feel for a place.
In my next 3/3 post on this reflection of my fifty streets I will bring you up to date with my latest news up here in Scotland!
Drawing the Street turned six this summer. My thanks to all who have accompanied me from the beginning and to those who have followed along the way as something has caught their interest.
With my Newcastle work currently on display in the Brampton Museum and Gallery, I’ve been posting some of these drawings on social media to share it further afield. Having also just completed my 50th street drawn on over 60 metres of archival cotton paper, it seems timely to reflect on how this all began as a post-card sketch.
There’s a beautiful poem called ‘Fluent’ by the late John O’Donohue from his book Conamara Blues. I’ve never forgotten his words:
‘I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.’
When I sketched the former Ironmarket post office on to a post card, I had no idea what would unfold. It turns out that I was sowing the seed for an archive of streets, all meaningful to me in some way. This is part one of three posts about this story.
Ironically, it was the limitations of a post card that prompted me to think about a full-length drawing of the Ironmarket. This all took place whilst attending drawing classes run by Staffordshire artist David Brammeld. When considering how long to make the drawing, David’s advice was: “Don’t limit yourself!” Shortly after, our son asked me what I would like for Christmas. I suggested a large sheet of paper and received a 10 x 1.2 metre roll! There was no going back.
I gave no thought as to where this would lead but concentrated on representing the Ironmarket in a way that could be read in future. During my time as a conservation architect, I had always been grateful for old drawings of buildings that showed details which would inform my work. I knew that by drawing a street as a whole, individual buildings could be read in context, such as the shops standing on narrow burgess plots.
The Ironmarket retains a lot of its fine structure and is rich in stories if we pause a moment to look. Drawing is that pause. I choose which parts of my view I want to record – in a way that I hope is also good to look at.
Each drawing starts with a preparatory sketch where I map out the entire street as accurately as I can whilst still keeping it a freehand drawing. I’m always looking at ways to improve my work, whether learning about colour harmonies, shading, light, tone etc but always retaining that close reference to drawing what is there.
This first drawing ignited a great discussion on how the street had changed during living memory and prompted me to draw further streets around the town centre. I held my first exhibition in the library and Drawing the Street was born.
Drawing the Street is a growing entity; it has become more than just sketches of streets. It now contains many memories, some poignant, some funny. As the streets grow, so does my drawing style, evolving to include the things that I see as important – the people that belong to the street, the shops and businesses there at the time, the little details of life such as spotting my old work mates from the roofing contractor Miller Heritage working on the renovation of Mellard’s Warehouse – drawn below.
Although most of my streets are in conservation areas, I like to include the modern infrastructure. These too are part of our surroundings and tell their own story.
As the streets progressed, I stepped up my work on to archival quality cotton paper and redrew the Ironmarket at a slightly smaller scale than the first 2.7m drawing and entered it into the local open art exhibition. It was voted favourite by the Friends of the Borough Museum and awarded third prize – an honour and a great boost to continue. A few years later, the Friends bought my entire collection!
Thanks again for joining me and for reading this far. The streets belong to us all!
I sometimes get asked to draw buildings back into the street that have been demolished using old photos for reference. For instance, the much missed old ‘Muni’ on the Ironmarket, Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was taken down in the late 1960’s to make way for the library.
My intention for Drawing the Street is to draw what is there at the present. Drawing buildings back in that have gone somehow feels inauthentic. That said, who knows how many buildings might disappear from the streets that I’m drawing now!
Besides, I want to capture the life that is quietly ongoing such as here in Church Street, where the chap (Nathan) above Mr Dicks was giving me the thumbs up as I was photographing the building. The business closed not long after but it makes my day that the spirit of Nathan firmly remains on the drawing.
My drawings are records of our streets as they stand now for the future. Thing is, as soon as the drawing has gone to print, there are already micro-changes and within no time shops have changed hands and it’s out of date! So by default I’m also capturing the past, which is the great name for the exhibition currently on display at the Brampton Museum and Art Gallery.
I made a flying visit to to the Preview – a 12 hour round trip from Scotland for an hour at the museum. It was worth it to see fourteen original Newcastle streets framed and on display ! Plus a number of other Newcastle sketches, all capturing details that have caught my attention.
When I set out my first exhibition at Newcastle library, I had no idea where the idea for Drawing the Street would take me but I knew it was a baby worth nurturing and helping to its feet. I can’t tell you how heartening it is for me to reflect back on the last six years and see the meandering route that my streets have led me.
If you have read this far, thank you! I can share with you that I have just finished my 50th street! I’m going to be sharing a lot of images of my Newcastle work over on Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks so hope to be in touch with you over there.
I have a big trip quietly planned for Friday 13th September. A lot of time in the car, train and taxi to spend a couple of hours at the Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme, but I’m thrilled that my work is to be included in an exhibition ‘Capturing the Past‘ held by the Museum from 14th Sept to 3rd Nov 2019.
The exhibition invites us to: ‘take a trip down memory lane and see our town through the eyes of local artists and photographers. Nothing ever stays the same – our world is constantly changing’. The selection has been taken from the museum’s vast archive of local history and it is a great honour that my work has been included to display.
The Friends of the Brampton bought the entire collection of my original Newcastle-under-Lyme street drawings before I left for Scotland and they are hosting a preview at the Museum on Friday from 2pm.
I was really pleased that the collection stayed together in their birthplace. Six years on, the drawings will reveal how things have changed in the interim.
My drawings focus on streets as a whole rather than just an assortment of buildings enabling the viewer to see them from a wider perspective; how one building relates to another and how the loss of one building affects its neighbours. I created them as a social and historical archive so I am very happy they were retained as a collection for public record in Newcastle. They can be read and interpreted in years to come.
Time now for some new work hot off the press! To celebrate this great moment for me – just over six years since Drawing the Street set out, I have sketched three more buildings of the town, including the much loved Brampton Museum itself at the top of this post.
The street layout at the heart of Newcastle is medieval and I’ve always loved the view from the end of the High Street looking down towards the pinnacles, gables and tower of St Giles’ church.
Looking down at street level, we see a few signs directing us down through the arch, along the very narrow Pepper Street.
I had to include a reference to Cassie and Francesco at Amore Italian restaurant, Pepper Street, where my work was on display for several years.
The third sketch is another feature of the High Street – the Guildhall.
These sketches will all be available to buy at the Brampton as greetings cards and also as signed prints set in A4 mounts at £20 each. There aren’t many as I am only taking as many as I can carry…
To see the full collection of my Newcastle drawings please visit my website Drawing the Street.
Great excitement for me here in the Clyde Valley to be invited to draw labels for Finest Whisky Deluxe‘s special bottling of another respectable Speyside malt. These bottles are for the forthcoming whisky fair in Berlin and I’ve dedicated a new page to it here on the blog (see menu bar above) where you can see some of the finished work. In this post I thought I would share a little about my process.
I prefer to work from my own photos so this called for a flying visit to Berlin. The Finest Whisky team gave us a great welcome and introduced us to the most amazing whisky shop I have ever set foot in! I can only liken it to what Cornelissen’s is to artists…you suddenly want to try or buy everything (all top quality) and it is all laid out so beautifully! It gave me a real buzz to see my artwork drawn in Scotland (for Sansibar Whisky) all lit up on these gleaming bottles of amber, looking quite at home in Berlin!
Original art labels need to be robust, waterproof, light-fast and non-toxic so the choice of drawing materials is very important. After agreeing the style of sketch for this commission, I chose a Pigma micron 01 pen in black with a .25mm line which meets all the above as well as being fade-proof and of archival quality.
I start by cropping and editing the photos in Photoshop, to find the most interesting part to draw, then I display the image on a large screen so I can sketch from this; it’s the closest I can get to sketching from life. I usually sketch directly in ink but a preliminary pencil sketch helps place it well on the label. The labels are quite small (10 x 12cm) in comparison with my street drawings!
With this example, I’m sketching the inside of the Union Jack, another treasure in the whisky world. As I was sketching my way around the image, I realised I had photo-bombed this one and so I’ve included half a selfie!
After completing the line drawing, I shade and model with diluted Dr Ph Martin’s Bombay black ink. When completely dry I apply a wash using a limited palette from the Ziller ink range of Cardinal Red, Buffalo Brown and Sunflower Yellow. These are intense colours and I dilute and mix them to tone them down. The only reason I chose a different brand of ink to the previous Scottish labels was to find slightly different colours but ones which would still harmonise with the warm gold of the whisky.
Once the labels have their final colour wash on, I place each one between some folded paper and press flat under a pile of books and leave overnight ready to be scanned the following day.
I parcel them up in glassine paper (acid free) with protective card and post them off to Berlin together with signed labels of authenticity. Then it’s over to Finest Whisky to stick them on to the bottles and help them find their new homes.
There are a few more images below but if you want to see all that I have drawn so far, please visit Finest Whisky Deluxe ‘s website.
Audlem is quite the beauty spot with its canals, painted narrow boats and mix of historic buildings. We took all our visiting relations there when we lived in Alsager and later on from Whitmore; it was a great destination any time of year. We had all grown to love this place so it was an easy choice to draw the main high street – some five years ago now.
I include figures in my drawings as they are the life of the street. I take photos of the buildings and whoever is passing by at the time gets drawn in. Sometimes I find out about them later – like I discovered that the gentleman here at the door of Williams is Derek Mckelvey, so much part of the history of Audlem and a delight to meet and chat to when I called in to the shop.
I was very sorry to learn he passed away early in the New Year. My condolences to all the family and the community as they say their goodbyes.
The best thing about our new home here in Scotland, is stepping outside our back door. From here, the rush of the mighty River Clyde is carried up the sides of the valley where it never fails to take my breath away, make me stop whatever I’m doing and drink in the landscape of the Clyde Valley.
We overlook the old apple, plum and damson orchards of Hazelbank and beyond towards Crossford, where as the name suggests, there is a bridge over the Clyde. When we moved here it was peak growth season, with mostly rooftops, cables and crows visible above the dense foliage.
The greenery has all died back now and as we get closer to the year end, I just wanted to wish you all a very happy Christmas and give you a flavour of some streets I plan to draw as next year unfolds.
Before I got stuck into my whisky label project (see previous post), I made a start on a few sketches of places close to our home in Hazelbank, to help anchor me into my new surroundings.
Our nearest town is Lanark, a place full of history which I am looking forward to learning about as my new street drawings come to life.
Much as I love this time of year, it can be very stressful for all sorts of reasons and I hope that whatever you are doing and wherever you are, you can take a few minutes to enjoy some of the beauty of the season.
I’d like to sign off by saying a sincere thank you for bearing with me during this year of our big move and wish you all the best for 2019. Thanks for reading! Ronnie