Category Archives: urban sketching

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

Shake a leg for #sot2021

sketch of feet in Stoke on Trent
Feet up Hanley Duck

Funny how waiting in a queue is now something I enjoy. There’s always something to draw. I started with one foot, then a bit of leg then another…

Back to this month. I’ve had a great time sketching in Burslem, the mother town of the Potteries,  starting with this one of Market Place, one of the streets which I’ve already drawn formally a few years ago which you can see here.

urban sketch of the Leopard Burslem
Post Office (new-ish) and the Leopard, Burslem

Good to see the repairs on the Post Office by Horsley Huber Architects looking nicely weathered in.

I then moved down to St John’s Square to sketch the New Inn.

sketch by ronnie Cruwys of New Inn Burslem
New Inn, Market Place, Burslem.

This Bank Holiday Monday the town burst into life with its summer festival “Our Burslem Unites

Stoke Urban Sketchers got together for the event and to enjoy capturing the flavour of the day. Here are a few of mine.

sketch of Burslem School of Art from the Wedgwood Institute
Looking out from those big Wedgwood Doors

urban sketch of burslem

fun and games in Burslem
Fun and Games on the Corner of Queen Street
Burslem Unites urban sketch ronnie cruwys
Hook a Duck – a prize every time

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 – from 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