Category Archives: Pen and ink drawing

Fifty Streets:2/3

Sitting outside Cowling and Wilcox drawing Holloway Road, North London, summer 2016

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.

Half a dozen people stopped to talk to me that afternoon, curious as to what I was drawing.

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.

Holloway Road, North London

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.

Holloway Road, above ‘Ginger Lettings’

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.

Thanks to the gentleman on the right for telling me about this street

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!

Elegant Georgian terrace only minutes from the centre of York

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.

Thanks to Noel Bennett Photography, Eccleshall, for this pic taken in Gallery at 12
Another thank you to @SueSherman for this pic taken at Eccleshall library.

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.

N o 7 Hitchman Street, Fenton, Stoke-on Trent

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!

Thanks for reading! Ronnie 🙂

High Street Eccleshall, Summer 2015

Fifty Streets: 1/3

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.

Ironmarket drawing on its way to Newcastle Library -framed by Terry Hunt at Jollies Arts Ltd

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.

Ironmarket unfurled , early 2013

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.

Java Coffee shop situated on an ancient burgess plot

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.

First exhibition held in the Library on the Ironmarket, 2013

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.

Garden Street, (in part) with the later addition of a workshop for TW Heating.

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!

Ronnie 🙂

Back to the brampton

the brampton museum and art gallery
The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle-under-Lyme

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.

Picture of Ronnie Cruwys by Stoke Sentinel
Thanks to Stoke Sentinel for taking this photo shortly after my first exhibition in Newcastle-under-Lyme Library.

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.

pen and ink drawing of high street newcastle under lyme by ronnie cruwys, artist, part of exhibition at Brampton Museum
Looking down the High Street towards St. Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme

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.

Look closely at the sign boards for Amore Italian Restaurant and Blacks Menswear

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.

pen and ink drawing of clock tower above the Guildhall, High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme by ronnie cruwys artist
Clock tower above the Guildhall, High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme

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.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

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

 

 

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

Train leaving Platform One

Letterbox drawing in pen and ink on Stoke station by Ronnie Cruwys
King George Letterbox, Platform One, Stoke-on-Trent Station

Having a sketch book means waiting for anything is a pleasure,  especially somewhere like Stoke Station where there are plenty of subjects to draw.  This letterbox on Platform One caught my eye, marked with the initials GR, for George VI (reigned 1936 to 1952). The evening sunlight was pouring all over it and it was so bright, it looked gilded in places.

Thanks to @Rhomany for recommending Holbein Watercolours and the juicy Vermillion Hue, this is a proper letterbox red!

pen and ink sketch in Perfect Sketch book
Gables and Chimneys over the North Stafford Hotel, Stoke Station

On the opposite side of the station stands the North Stafford Hotel , built in 1847, and listed grade 2*, with its grand Dutch gables and rows of chimney pots.

Pen and ink andwatercolour sketch of Victorian chimneys over Stoke Station Hotel
Chimney stacks, Station Hotel, Stoke-on-Trent

These sketches are tiny – drawn in a palm sized pocket sketch book – one of the ‘Perfect Sketchbooks‘ made up by Erwin Lian. The paper is lovely to draw on and means that is is easy to zoom on an a detail and draw something like a chimney stack, or a chap with his phone and coffee.

pen and ink sketch of a chap in Stoke Station
Coffee to go

There were a few trips down south last month so a few London sketches will follow soon.

Signing off with the best thing to follow a run of townie sessions: a day out cycling on the Welsh coast!

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

sketch of the car at picnic spot in Wales
Time for another brew, but this time after a bike ride at Llyn Tegin, Snowdonia

Pegging out Holloway Road

pen and ink urban sketch of Holloway Road
Pegging out the Holloway Road

Thought I would share a few pics of the couple of days spent sketching another stretch of the Holloway Road. This time I brought along a length of cartridge paper which I had prepared at home with a wash of gum arabic and French and English Ochre pigments, to give the paper a bit of warmth.

Note the colourful tote bag by the French American artist  Gwenn Seemel – I admire her outlook on copyright as well as her colourful artwork.

preparing per fro sketching
Adding a wash of ochres and gum arabic to cartridge paper

pen and ink and water colour on holloway road
Sketching out the buildings opposite Cowling and Wilcox

I’d packed half a dozen clothes pegs to clip the paper to a folder which seemed to work quite well. Even though it’s non-stop busy along this road, several people stopped to pass the time of day with me and thanks to Sean for taking this photo and sending it to me.

Ronnie Cruwys Urban Sketching Holloway road
Photo thanks to @seanazzillustration

5-holloway-road-ronnie-cruwys
Pegs and toes keeping the paper curl held down

Holloway road
Have to be quick to sketch between the traffic.

new drawing of Hollway road on water colour paper
Back home and on to the formal drawing.

holloway-road-wip
preparing for the lettering

lettering-on-holloway-road
Adding the lettering

81-to-129-holloway-rd-crop-b
Section of the final drawing – Denmark Place build 1863, the same year that work on the London underground began.

The drawing is now complete, scanned and can be seen in full on my website. Limited edition prints are now available to buy.

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

 

Leek Sunny Side

York Street, Leek, North Staffordshire
York Street, Leek

I did a double take when I walked past York Street, Leek this summer. The most ordinary row of terraced houses transformed by the green-fingered, creative occupants into a shared garden enjoyed by inhabitants and passers-by alike. What a generous attitude!

York Street, terraced houses of Leek
Street Garden

It’s been a while since I’ve drawn a residential street, the last one was Well Street in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Looking back, I seem to be getting a bit more colourful!

This drawing has now been scanned and is up in full on my website Drawing the Street. The first few prints are now ready and they look great, thanks to Simon and Valerie at Smith York Printers, a signed limited edition of only 30 prints, 60cm long and £75 each, ready to go up in Gallery at 12‘s exhibition ‘A Winter Gathering’ at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek.

Hope to see some of you there at the Foxlowe Preview on Friday 18th November, at 7:00 pm.The exhibition runs until New Years Eve.

More about drawing the second Leek street to follow soon….

Bury and hilton and terraced houses on York Street Leekt
Bury Hilton Surveyors on York Street, Leek

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

flowers on york street leek
Hearts in the window and flowers on the door

 

 

 

Gifts

Gift from John

A few years ago John, our son, gave me a hefty 10 metre roll of lovely thick cartridge paper as well as a concertina sketch book with another 10 metres of drawing paper.

The roll of cartridge paper made me commit to that first long street drawing (you can look back on that here) but the sketch book has remained unopened until last week when I received another gift out of the blue from Laura – some Uniball pens. Now these are the pens I turn to first for my on-the-hoof street sketches as they are waterproof and lightfast and have a range of fine points giving pin-sharp lines.

Last Saturday was forecast fair so I took off to the historic market town of Leek, in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands, with my new pens and sketchbook. 1 Leek Church St

 

Leek has to be the friendliest town centre I’ve drawn in so far. It was a busy Saturday with a lot of people in town and although I was on Church Street, tucked out of sight of the main square, people still came over to see what I’d drawn and to pass the time of day with me. The sketches are pretty rough and ready but should help me get set up for the more formal drawing to follow.

2 Leek Church St Parker House
Parker House (16th Century), one of a number of medieval buildings in the town.

I’m planning on drawing a series of streets in Leek which I hope I will have ready in time to go up in a shared exhibition in November at the Foxlowe Art Centre when Staffordshire Artists Cooperative will be putting on a joint display of their work.

3 Leek Stockwell st Foxlowe
Foxlowe Arts Centre

4 Leek WHite HArt tea room Stockwell
White Hart Tea Room

I travelled light with my kit: a few Uniball unipin pens, a single ultramarine blue watercolour pan, a Pentel black ink brush and a waterbrush pen.  I go easy with the brush pens on this paper but it helps to add a bit of shading to the buildings by dabbing some of the ink into a jam jar lid (travel palette) to dilute it first.

5 leek Stockwell.jpg

 

urban sketch leek
Sketching on the go          

sky guys Leek
Not forgotten these two Sky gentlemen from my visit to Leek in 2014 – I will get round to including you on a drawing!

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

Porridge at Bill’s

Bills for breakfast
Starting the day with tea and porridge at Bill’s, Longacre

Last weekend we joined up with Crohns & Colitis UK fo their annual walk around London. It’s a great way to see our capital and better still, it gets the word out about the support that’s available for anyone who has Crohn’s or Colitis.

CkFv_QCWYAASh4S.jpg largeWe set off from Stoke Station in our purple tee-shirts. Once on the train, it wasn’t long before a lady offered us a donation; her sister was diagnosed 50 years ago, but back then it was something that wasn’t talked about at all. I found this a very moving gesture as I think that it is only in recent years that it is finally being brought to light and all credit to those who have worked so hard to raise its profile.

It was a day out for us and yes, I brought my sketch book!  I’ve had my head down recently gettting on with my icon diploma work as it’s only four months till our end of diploma exhibition in Shoreditch.

I enjoy sketching on-the-hoof and my favourite sketching has to be the half minute bus/train stop sketches….they’re  just thumbnail views of life on the go. Enough words – time for a few pictures!

train sketch 1
Train stop sketches

train sketches 2.jpg
Train stop sketches

 

london bus sketch 3a.jpg
Bus stop thumbnails

 

Whitehall
Skyline above Whitehall, London

whitehall old shades
Whitehall, The Old Shades, gable dated 1898

Lincolns Inn fields
Liquid lunch

no prizes
Opposite Condor bikes on Grays Inn Road

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie