I love to receive a card in the post. I think that a beautiful card sent through the post still represents great value and I have a couple of drawers full of my favourites that I’ve kept over the years.
With this in mind, I decided to make a set of high resolution cards of six of my Newcastle-under-Lyme drawings. You can see them all below.
There is just the one set available in my Etsy shop. Please do have a look!
They are a standard 5 x 7 inch size and would look great popped into a frame!
I thought it was time to share a look behind the scenes at my drawings of Front Street, Acomb, York – the village where I grew up. Let’s dive into my studio to take a closer look at this first drawing of Front Street, from Nos 93-105.
I start by roughing out the street in pencil then transcribing the outline onto a long sheet of heavy watercolour paper. I’ve always used Fabriano 300gsm acid free 100% archival cotton paper. It has a lovely rough texture. I use a flexible mapping pen nib which gives a variety of line thickness and the paper is sturdy enough to take the paint. It’s also strudy enough to handle a reclining cat!
Josh often lies out beside me as I work – he has done this ever since we first collected him from the North Staffs RSCPA in 2016.
We were told by the RSPCA to be patient as he was terrified of people and it might take him months to come round. That was fine by us, so we brought him home and left him to settle a few metres from my work table.
It was only a matter of days before Josh had to find out what was taking all my attention. I was engrossed in drawing the first of my Eccleshall streets and he couldn’t resist climbing up to see what was going on. Pencils, pens, erasors – all targets for paws. It was our first point of connection and six years on he still jumps up here to greet me.
I’ve always covered most of the drawing apart from where I’m working; newsprint paper protects it from most splashes and spills and I only move it out of the way to photograph. It’s been a handy working practice!
I’ve used a light fast permanent ink here in Sepia (rather than black or Payne’s Grey) as a warmer base colour to complement the rich red ochres of the brickwork. Front Street is full of soft red brick buildings and red terracotta roof tiles; I use earth pigments for these.
Front Street is in Acomb’s conservation area. Acomb has a stong sense of place and history and you can read ten curious facts about it in a clever blog by the cat crime fiction writer James Barrie. Yes, I did say ‘cat’ crime…
As soon as the street is complete, I wrap it in glassine paper and store in a 30cm diameter carboard tube out of harms way until I can scan it and arrange for prints.
I released the first set of limited edition giclee prints a few weeks ago and they sold very quickly! The next set are listed in my Etsy Shop and already one of these has sold. I’m only releasing a small print run of the Acomb drawings: 30 prints at 60cm long and 10 prints at 90cm. If you would like to order one – please get in touch.
Acomb Library is also stocking some of my greetings cards – a few examples below.
Broom grows outside my kitchen window here in Scotland – I love the intense yellow after the greys of winter. Broom links me to my next drawing in my red ochre series: the Brampton Museum in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The name Brampton means ‘place where broom grew’ – I wonder if any still grows in the park?
The Museum is located just outside Newcastle-under-Lyme’s town centre in Brampton Park, surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.
Long before this became a park, this was common land grazed and cultivated by the town burgesses. Eventually, the field was sold and Victorian villas were built – including ‘The Firs’ in 1855 and ‘Pitfield House’. The gardens of these Villas now make up the present park. You can read more about the history of the park here.
Twenty one years after ‘The Firs’ was built, Newcastle’s first museum was born just off the Ironmarket in Lad Lane. This consisted of a public library, a reading room and museum.
It was during the early years of WW2 that the Borough Museum was founded in the Lancaster Buildings. Eventually it moved to its current location in Brampton Park. You can read more about the history here – written by Neville Malkin, 9th June 1976.
Here’s the drawing in full. You can see the rest of my red ochre series of Newcastle-under-Lyme on my website Drawing the Street or browse my Etsy shop where the originals are for sale (available to buy at the time of writing).
The second drawing of the Brampton shows the side towards Pitfield House, with some of the garden and more of the wonderful roofscape.
I’ll sign off with a picture from the 2019 exhibition at the Brampton ‘Capturing the Past’. I was delighted that my collection of street drawings were included in the exhibition – they’ve been part of the Museum archive since 2018.
Newcastle town centre is alive with markets! Back in the 13th century, there was only the one market day but now markets are held 6 days a week with an additional one held monthly on a Sunday.
This is the second of six new red ochre sketches of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre – the full set can be seen on my website Drawing the Street.
The history of the markets is ancient. There’s an in-depth write up on the town’s history on the British History website: there is evidence that a market was held in Newcastle-under-Lyme as far back as 1203 when the market day was changed from Sunday to Saturday, for which the burgesses had to pay a fine to the king. I bet the good folk of ‘Castle didn’t go much on that.
It’s possible that the market day remained unchanged until 1590 when under Elizabeth I’s charter, market day was declared to be Monday and it remained so until the beginning of the 19th century when an additional Saturday was added to meet a larger population.
Here’s the drawing in full.
Let’s take a few steps to the left and look at the market cross from a different angle. The market cross was located further up the street in medieval times, opposite the Ironmarket.
It required some restoration work in the mid-1500s when it’s thought that the five steps were built. Later, in the early 1800s it was moved to the present location when the lamps were added.
The finished original drawings are set in standard 10 x 12 inch mounts ready to frame and now listed with full description in my Etsy shop.
If you’re looking for a print instead – please get in touch.
Waiting for the X164 bus from Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre back to Whitmore was a sketch moment. My car must have been getting fixed at Ryan’s garage – sketched here the year before.
I keep places/buildings that I find interesting in mind to draw later – in this case several years later! Recently I’ve concentrated on some new sketches in and around the town centre and I thought I would start sharing the first of them ‘The Barracks’, here.
Barracks Road was once named Friar’s Road; the name changed in recognition of the Barracks. It was built in 1855, in red brick ‘Italian style’. This was the headquarters of the 3rd King’s Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment, which assembled annually at Newcastle for training, until 1880.
You can discover more about the history of this building here on the Potteries website. I’m delighted to hear that it received a grant a few years ago towards window repairs.
The Barracks workshops is now home to a number of small businesses and has been popping up on various social media posts.
There is also a heritage project running which is looking for people who have memories of the history and uses of this building – more about that on the Sentinel’s website here.
This is the third year of sketching at the Christmas pop-up shop in the Tolbooth, Lanark. Over 40 artists living in and around the Clyde Valley submit some of their hand-made created/painted/knitted/woven/sewn art work to sell and contribute toward the upkeep of this vital community building. Plus they offer a wide range of gorgeous gifts for friends and family.
This year, there is a focus to raise funds to improve access to the first floor of the Tolbooth.
Back in Dec 2019, the focus was to redecorate the first floor, improve the lighting and flooring to make it a more attractive room for community use. This has been done and with some style!
I’m delighted to have some of my framed limited edition prints of Lanark’s historic streets on display upstairs. You can see these in more detail on my website here.
There are a couple more of my framed prints available – here’s Bloomgate and the High Street pictured top right.
I love the circular work by Patricia West above – I think it’s called ‘Connections’ made with fragments of different sari fabric. Pat McKenzie’s work always catches my eye – she has some gorgeous art in the Tolbooth – my photos/sketches do her no favours!
That’s plenty for now. I will continue with a few more sketches in the next day or so. Meanwhile, keep well and warm.
There’s always been a warm glow from this much loved shop on Shropshire Street in Audlem, a village which can trace its ancestry back to the Domesday book when it was known as Aldelime. It’s located next to the Shropshire Union Canal where you can find a run of 15 locks designed by Thomas Telford to lift the canal by 28m from the Cheshire Plain to the Shropshire Plain.
Williams of Audlem was established 159 years ago – a record to be proud of! Whilst I was living in nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme, I drew most of the street frontages of this fascinating place and recorded them on my website Drawing the Street.
Williams of Audlem stock some of my signed limited edition giclee prints and there are currently two unframed prints of ‘The Square’ in stock, featuring the family run pub and restaurant ‘The Lord Combomere’.
Head north west from The Square and you reach Cheshire Street where you’ll see this lovely red brick Georgian town house set against the backdrop of the 13thC church of St James, listed grade one.
There is one framed giclee print available in Williams as I write (8th Dec 2021). Here’s a close up of the some of the buildings that make up this side of the street.
A few more cropped images from the street drawing below:
You can see this side of the street in full on my website here.
I’d like to close with a wee thank you to Judy Evans of Williams of Audlem who has been a loyal supporter of my work for many years and to pay a tribute to her beloved Dad Derek, seen here putting out the morning papers for the good readers of Audlem.
It’s easy to miss but if you look up at the front of the building where Bernard’s Wynd meets South Vennel, you’ll see a carved stone stating ‘Trafalgar Place’.
I only spotted this when I recently began a series of small sketches of Lanark to mark the month long Instagram drawing festival that is #inktober.
I hadn’t twigged that there were official prompts for the Inktober drawing themes! I simply began my own theme of drawing the views of Lanark that had caught my imagination – there are so many details that I want to pause a moment over by making a sketch.
Back to the name ‘Trafalgar Place’ on this street sign. The name doesn’t show up on the National Library of Scotland map of Lanark 1847-95 South Vennel. The photo below is a screenshot from the maps.nls.uk website, link above.
I did a search for ‘Trafalgar Place Lanark’ and came up with the ancestry website which records ‘Thomas Marshall Braidwood, born Trafalgar Place, Lanark, 1883-01-06, died 1967’. Braidwood is just up the road from us so a local Lanark connection. Thomas’s parents were Adam Braidwood (born in Douglas 1855) and his mother was Jane Marshall.
I find it interesting to look into the meaning of the names too so I looked up:
‘TRAFALGAR‘ this word is derived from ‘Cape in southwestern Spain, from Arabic taraf-al-garb “end of the west,” or taraf-agarr “end of the column” (in reference to the pillars of Hercules). The British naval victory over the French there was fought Oct. 21, 1805; hence London’s Trafalgar Square, named in commemoration of it.‘
Here’s the corner of the building where it meets Bernard’s Wynd. On the map at that time it was called St Bernard’s Wynd.
Perhaps there are Braidwood families that can research further into the history of this building but that is as far as I got…days are short and I want to catch a daily sketch.
I will sign off with another view from South Vennel – here we see the rooftops of the old Lanark Grammar School on Wellgatehead.
If you would like to see my drawings unfold each day this month, I am posting them on Instagram @drawingthestreet. I will post a few of them as I go along over here too.
‘The Kitchen Table’ is 2021’s theme for the Carluke Jam and Ham Exhibition (online). As I thought about the subject, I realised how much the Kitchen table is the heart of our home and how many stories and relaxed evenings have been spent around it. It brought to mind the highlight of last summer when restrictions were lifted enough for my family to come and visit – a magical time!
I really enjoy sketching the things we use each day – they become more familiar and loved with use, such as our wee red tea pot and the rainbow mug from Grapevine in Alsager.
The Carluke exhibition invites up to three entries so I decided to go for it with a triptych of our table, working out a composition for three stand alone paintings, all on 25cm square wooden boards, which would flow one into the other. I first made tiny thumbnail sketches then drew them at the same size as the boards.
I love the start and close of each day. It’s at the end of the day that the table lights up and it’s a treat to get out a wee dram and capture the moment in my whisky sketch book.
Animals have been a part of my life for many years – this is Flo, our most recent addition to the household, she joined us from Lanark Cat Rescue, a timid curious wee cat and though she is still very shy she seems content with her life on an orchard.
The whisky glasses were gifts from our visit to the Union Jack pub Berlin, when they were filled with some very fine malt whisky and great hospitality!
I found a few music sheets in the local Oxfam shop which I thought would be useful for collage. I gave them a wash in red and orange inks and tore them into shapes for the flowers which sit in the Burleighware jug from my sister.
Music from Radio Scotland or Radio 6 late into the night is part of the evening kitchen. If my brother is visiting, then we’ll have a session as he is great on guitar and stories.
Our striped red, orange and turquoise table runner is also something that brightens up the table – from Staffordshire days.
I will sign off with the finished painting. This is the central part of the triptych – more to follow on the other two very soon.
A hold up, a queue or a gap in the day’s proceedings are a gift to me – if I remember to take it – or if I have my sketch book to hand. Today was one such gift. A slight delay for my sis-in-law as we waited for her pre-flight Covid test on Westmuir Street, Glasgow.
You just have to look up and there’s the skyline full of Victorian chimney stacks, turrets, ridges and eaves.
Birds flying with ease from one perch to another.
I’m almost at the end of this pocket sketchbook – a strange feeling as sketchbooks are companions to me. When a book gets filled up there is a sense of a chapter closing.
A page has turned in our family story as my nephew begins a new life as a student in St Andrew’s, a long way from his home. Little does he know but it’s thanks to him that I have filled the last pages of this sketchbook with Glasgow rooflines and scarlet rosehips!