Category Archives: Sketching

Fifty Streets 3/3

Dog Groomers and Turkish Barber…not to be confused

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.

West Port, Lanark

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.

No 38 Broomgate (middle building)

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!

2-62 Wellgate, Lanark

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.

Three completed drawings ready to scan

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

Small prints by Smith York Fine Art Printers, Ironbridge, of first three Lanark street scenes

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!

You keep me going! Ronnie ūüôā

St Nicholas Clock tower from The Wallace Tea Rooms

bottling the streets of Berlin

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.

Thanks for reading!

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

 

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, ‚Äėtwo up, two down‚Äô 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

 

Pitch and sketch

pen and ink sketch of tent
Pitch 41, Ty Croes Campsite, Anglesey

A few weeks ago, the weather was set fair so we took off to Anglesey for a bike ride and a night in our tent. I love these 24 hour mini-holidays. Not driving too far and getting fresh sea air is a tonic and I really enjoy exploring places new to us.

sketch of weeds in hedgerow
Sunlight on hedgerow weeds at the edge of dense woodland

I had a new tiny palm sized sketchbook to make a start in. The best sketchbooks are the full ones so I got stuck in. There’s a church tower rising over the dense trees opposite the entrance to the campsite. It’s dedicated to an early Celtic female saint – Saint Ceinwen. Apparently there’s a holy well somewhere in the area – finding where that’s hidden will be a destination for another day!

Saint Caenwen's church Ty Croes
Saint Ceinwen’s church, Ty Croes

Thanks for the subject of this next sketch Aunty J!

Last drops of Glenfarclas
Savouring the last drops of Glenfarclas

The following morning, we cycled out to the Cefni Reservoir from Newborough Sands. Most of the route is off the main road, alongside waterways full of wildlife.

Cefni reservoir boats
Boats on Cefni reservoir, Anglesey

I love this time of year. We went on this trip just before Midsummer when growth is at its peak. Have to grab and treasure these days when we can.

Jackdaws on the chimneys
Jackdaws chattering on the chimneys

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

Urban Sketching #HomeSweetHome

pen and ink cartoons dayin my life
Sketching a day in a life

This week, Stoke Urban Sketchers celebrated international recognition as they were granted the status of ‘Regional Chapter’ within the global community of Urban Sketchers.

The group met up for a sketch this Saturday in the New Vic and the group founders, Laura Green and Rhomany Klair Scattergood were interviewed by the Sentinel for a feature as part of the Stoke bid for City of Culture 2021. There’s a taster video of the sketching session here filmed by Rhomany.

Instead of sharing my recent sketches, I thought I would rewind a bit to where I began  keeping a sketch book. A few years ago, it was a wish of mine to become a member of the Urban Sketching community. I loved the confidence and simplicity of sketches from life and how people would share their sketches from all over the world. The range of skill is quite dramatic Рfrom hurried sketches to accomplished works of art.

sketch book diary of my day
Breakfast part one and two

Even with my background in architecture, I still found it quite daunting to sketch out on the street, but that was only until I came across the work of Danny Gregory and his genius idea of Sketch Book Skool.

morning sketches tortoise, dog and cat
Pets and washing on a sunny day

I think I was the eighteenth person to enlist on ‘Beginning‘, that first round of Sketch Book Skool lessons, which was such a brilliant experience. There must be thousands enlisted now.¬† Danny and his co-teachers taught us all to just go for it – to sketch our days and in so doing we sketch our lives.

For these sketches, I was following a lesson given by Prashant Miranda, recording a day from start to end, my early dip into sketching from life, which is all urban sketching is about.

sketches of ordinary scenes
Peg out washing, sand windows or sketch?

5 easter monday crop 5
At the end of Easter Monday – it’s bubbles!

If you are thinking of joining a local group of Urban Sketchers – it is really informal and you’ll be made very welcome! 

notice board 2
Kitchen Noticeboard

8 loch lomondThanks 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

A Splinter of Light

Visitors Room Ward 7D Fiona Stanley Hospital
Flowers for someone

On the top floor of the brand new Fiona Stanley hospital in Perth, there’s a dedicated visitors’ room complete with all you need to help yourself to a brew or chilled water thanks to donations from the Australian #DryJuly.¬† A perfect refuge for me who had just arrived from UK and was all at sixes and sevens with the seven hour time difference.

sketch of visitor room fiona stanley hospital
Boiling and Chilled water on tap, Ward 7D

This was an unplanned, hasty visit as my sister had been admitted to intensive care then moved to ward 7D.  She was so poorly.

I unplugged from all social media simply because I wanted to be fully present with my Aussie family.

My sketch book though is a great soother and even these bins became quite a focus when everything else was just too hard to take in. In spite of clear labels, when under stress – no one knows what to throw where!

bins in visitors room fiona stanley
Bins of confusion

Nights alternated between the ward and my temporary Aussie home, looking toward the river and my nieces’ childhood tree house, built to last over 20 years ago, by their Dad.

sketch of the tree house
Childrens’ tree house

sketch of gum leaves perth
Gum leaves

Every other night was spent on the recliner with Anne, on the top floor of the 5 star, state-of-the-art hospital, overlooking the city skyline.  A room with quite a view!

 

Towards the end of my visit, my sister gradually began to recover. Looking out between the blinds, we noticed an unexpected sky treat – a splinter of light which burst into a huge illuminated candle on the corner of Perth’s landmark QV1 building, designed by the architect Harry Seidler.

QV1 buildin Harry Seidler perth
5 minutes to six, a splinter of light on the QV1 building, Perth

splinter of light on harry Seidlers QV1 building
Splinter of light intensifies – 4 minutes to six

burst of light
6pm. Dazzling light on Harry Seidler’s QV1 building, Perth.

These are rare and treasured moments.

sketch of chair in Fiona Stanely hospital
Progress!

Asking to ‘go out’ for a coffee is a significant sign of improvement!

This has been an unforgettable and profoundly moving trip. Anne remains an outpatient under the watchful care of her healthcare team with a large question mark as to what treatment next. We are all so grateful for the extraordinary care, prayers and kindness given to Anne. They are received by all our family with gratitude.

going home
Farewell Perth

This post is for my nieces – with love and thanks, from Aunty Ron XX

Ready, Unsteady, Draw!

sketches from a london bus
Unsteady thumbnail sketches from the 253 bus

Been thinking ahead to drawing another stretch of the Great North Road later this year. I like to sketch from the street first to get a good look at some of the details so pitched my perch opposite the Fig and Olive on Upper Steet, Islington.

pen and ink and wash in sketchbook of Upper St Islington
Looking up at gables on Upper Street, Islington

I use a handy portable camping stool – it’s lightweight and fits easily into a bag and I tucked myself into a corner, well clear of the fire station.

Stating the obvious, it was pretty cold and so on the fist day of the Chinese New Year (Rooster), I chickened out after one sketch and went for an indoor brew nearby. Couldn’t see a Shirker’s Cafe, but this place, the Workers Cafe looked like I could sketch from the empty seat in the front window.

workers cafe Upper st
The Workers Cafe for a mug of tea

Sketch book view of Islington Town Hall
View from inside the Workers Cafe on Upper Street

thumbnail sketches
43 bus to London Bridge

Back home again next day via a catch-up with a dear old pal, meeting up in Milton Keynes.

Thanks for reading, Ronnie

sketches Milton Keynes
Back home the next day via Milton Keynes, 50 years old