Category Archives: Sketch book

Waiting for the 43 Bus

43 Bus Holloway Road Ronnie Cruwys
Waiting for the 43 on Holloway road

Sometime last month I was asked if I had any sketches of North London’s number 43 bus. I scratched my head and went back through my sketchbook to find this one which I hope will bring a smile to my fellow blogger’s face.

My apologies it has taken this long to respond, but my scanner packed in and I had to get a replacement, plus I’m in the thick of preparations for a twin exhibition of my streets in Eccleshall which begins next week.

So this post is short and sweet with a bit of a sketchy bus theme all drawn from a bus stop and a few drawn from inside or up on the top deck.

253 to Nags Head
This is the bus I usually catch, 253 to Nags Head.
quick sketches from London bus
Hats on, collars up.

 

royal cafe camden
Thumbnail sketches when the bus stops
london buses
Wobbly bus thumbnails
Inside london bus
Inside the 253

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