Category Archives: Scotland

Hebridean Waters

A new exhibition went up in the Tolbooth Lanark last weekend, titled ‘Coasts and Rivers’. This is Lanark’s invitation for local artists to participate in Scotland’s 2020 celebration of:

‘Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, a year that will spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled coasts and waters encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors’.

It’s a step away from my usual buildings but for the past couple of years I’ve been exploring ways to express the beautiful landscape up here through attending a variety of art classes.

I’d been attending a year long drawing/mixed media course held at Paintbox School of Art in Cockenzie until lockdown threw that curve ball. Some of the classes went online so I signed up for their artist’s retreat and one of the morning meditation classes had the theme of oceans.

It involved filling a dozen or so sheets of A4 paper with a whole variety of fluid marks, the movement of ink on wet paper flowing to the sounds of the sea shore. I used three inks – Paynes grey and two blues, plenty of water for misting, sticks and feathers and the bottle dropper to make marks.

I set aside the papers to use as collage for the entry to the Oceans exhibition, thinking about the image of the Hebridean sea that I photographed on our way to St Kilda a few years ago. I wrote about it here.

Some weeks later, I prepared a surface with broad sweeping brush marks in similar colours but using acrylic paint to form a foundation layer, adding in some textured medium. I then tore a few sheets of the collage paper into narrow curved strips and layered them on to the base layer.

I then used inktense sticks to add highlights and deeper shadows.

Finally, to add the metallic sheen to the highlights, I added silver gouache using a cocktail stick held on its side to create irregular fillets of light.

Here’s the finished artwork. I did a double check on the tonal values by seeing how it looked in black and white and was happy with the result.

‘Hebridean Waters’ framed and ready for the exhibition! There’s a wide and interesting variety of work up in the Tolbooth, I think the subject has been appealing and just what we need to get us back in the flow!

Thanks for reading and if you live near Lanark, hope you can come along. The subject has generated some really beautiful and soothing art.

Ronnie 🙂

LAbelled with love from scotland

It’s almost two years since I began the whisky label marathon where I drew over 400 individual sketches of places in Scotland for Sansibar-Whisky’s bottling of a really tasty 1976 Speyside malt. Every sketch was of a place that I had been to and from photos that I had taken.

Work in progress on some of the labels which all started with a sketch in sepia ink.

A year later and the bottles were on display in Finest Whisky, Berlin.

Having drawn labels from Dumfries to Sutherland I can’t tell you how proud I was when I saw that one of the Lanark images was chosen to be on display – Lanark being my new home town!

Quite a few sketches were made of places close to home here in the Clyde Valley. Recently, I supplied the Post Office in Crossford with a small selection of greetings cards of some of the places on labels within walking distance of home.

I thought I would share some of the sketches of the places nearby starting with Hazelbank, named after all the Hazel trees that once grew along the banks of the River Clyde. Most of the hazels have been cleared over the years but a few healthy hazel saplings are growing in our orchard and hopefully they will thrive.

To read a little bit more about how these labels began – I wrote about it here.

The following images are all places that have become familiar to me, especially Broomhouse the one below, which is really ‘Bill’s House’ which I see every morning from our place a bit further up the hill.

Hope you enjoy this small taste of the Clyde Valley and know that every label that went on those 1976 Speysiders was drawn with the same level of dedication that went into making the whisky!

Thanks for reading!

Ronnie

Behind the walls of New Lanark

New Lanark is a World Heritage Site set in native Scottish woodland next to the River Clyde, here in South Lanarkshire. This Cotton mill village was founded in the 18th century and and has been thoroughly documented with a digitised survey of all the buildings – you can read more about it here. It doesn’t need ‘Drawing the Street’ to record it! However, the interiors are irresistible to draw!

Kitchen table

They are full of objects that remind me of my earliest childhood … some from our ‘old house’ and others from our neighbours in York which held hand-me-downs from generations before. Take for example the table above. This could have been Mum’s kitchen table in the mid-sixties. However, I’m not that old….the sketch below is of the Millworker’s House of the 1820’s.

Pots and Pans

We often go up to New Lanark to walk in the wildlife reserve or to see the Falls of Clyde, once visited and painted by Turner. However, it was when my American family came to visit last year that we did the tour inside and around the mill including the workers’ accommodation and Robert Owen’s House .

Wally Dug on the Dresser

I managed to take a few photos knowing that I wanted to sketch some of them later. I only get to notice things when I sketch such as this mouse and the clay pipes tucked behind the packs of tobacco. All reconstructed but still appealing.

Beer, whisky, fish, cheese, bacon ….can you spot the mouse?
Brush out the Cobwebs
Sacks of cotton
Reels of thread

Hope you enjoy this inside view of just a few of the sights within these magnificent buildings. It’s a fascinating destination in a beautiful location – well worth a visit.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Mill Workers’ House, New Lanark

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

 

Sketches from the North

pen and ink sketch of Loch Lomond seaplane
Waiting for our turn on the Loch Lomond seaplane

In between drawing streets and icon diploma course work, I love to sketch whenever I get a spare moment. It means that waiting for the dentist, or whatever, is now a great way of really looking at life going on around me. So waiting for our turn on a seaplane trip was one well worth recording. The flight was actually a present for Iain’s birthday back in February, but funnily enough, we ended up flying on my birthday!

We have just had a week on holiday up on Speyside in Morayshire, Scotland. It was wonderful but the best way of telling you about it is to share a few sketches.

Letterbox drawing
Enjoying a drink outside Sartis Italian Restaurant in Glasgow

Sartis glasgow sketch
Bottles on the shelves in Sartis Italian reastuarant, Glasgow

Willow tea Rooms Glasgow
Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Beautiful details on this Charles Rennie Mackintosh building.

Gutters cast iron
Beautiful gutters

scottish delicacies
Taste of all things Scottish!

view from Loch lomond sea plane
Bird’s eye view from the Loch Lomond Sea Plane – stunning!

Thanks for reading! Stay well.