Tag Archives: Drawing

Sketching the day

There’s a wonderful art studio here in the Clyde Valley run by Susan McMillan . There’s always a variety of art classes and workshops so I’m delighted to have been invited to give a sketchbook demonstration during two of the six week drawing classes which start in March.

I’ve had a few nudges lately about the value of sketching. To me, the best sketches are those made in 5 minutes or less, sometimes only a few lines with a bit of colour to help make sense of the lines.

Like this thumbnail of the kettle, teapot, jug and mug. I recognise that mug. I still have it and won’t put it through the dishwasher anymore as it’s losing its pattern. It’s one I gave to Dad…

There are some mouthwatering sketchbooks that artists share online and I dream of being able to produce work of such calibre and creativity. That said, I no longer feel so awed by them. They are brilliant because the artists are passionate, they’ve persevered and they have practised, qualities I really admire and try to encompass too.

I’d like to share a day in my life sketched in 2014 when I signed up for a 6 week online course which turned out to be the very first days of Sketchbook Skool. I don’t think this particular class is available anymore but I will never forget it and I made many online friends that have been a great support over the last 6 years.

One of the classes was with Prashant Miranda If you are on Instagram, go and have a look at his work – it makes you smile! It’s thanks to Prashant that I sketched a full day in thumbnails, Easter Monday 2014.

We’ve still got the tortoise (he’s in hibernation) but our cats and Nina are no longer with us – we only said goodbye to Ollie a few weeks ago:-( These sketches are more meaningful to me than any photograph.

I could write a short story for all of these sketches…

…and I could fill a book to go with the image below.

Our old washing machine….

I recall that the plan was to sand down and prime our front bay window that day. Just see how easily we were distracted!

My sketchbooks are probably some of my most treasured possessions. Not so much for the sketches but for the memories that they captured.

If you are hesitating in front of a blank page, here’s what you do. Look at what is catching your eye. Pick up whatever pen/pencil/crayon is nearest. Draw for five minutes. Make a few notes. Add a colour. Don’t judge it good or bad, it’s just your sketch. Close the book and revisit a few years later. It will all make sense one day.

Sketching the washing up a few weeks ago

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

Eccleshall Glows Red

High Street, Eccleshall with the Arcade – home to Gallery at 12

Gallery at 12 in Eccleshall is a firm supporter of the work done by Shape Arts . Each December the Gallery holds a charity day to fund raise for them and this year it tied in with ‘RED’, their winter-themed exhibition by all the co-operative membership. I’d love to say the words ‘Beam me up Scottie!’ and be transported back to the Gallery for the day but in the meantime I got out my red oxide ink for some fresh sketches of Eccleshall and posted some new work to the Gallery from their long-distance guest member.

These are cropped images from four little original drawings of Eccleshall, all mounted ready to frame. I’ve also made sets of cards of these as handy stocking fillers.

You will always get a warm welcome in the Gallery and Eccleshall is such a picturesque place to visit – if you live in the area, why not head over.

If I don’t post again before Christmas, here’s wishing all my readers a very happy one and hope you get many peaceful sofa moments!

Fifty Streets: 1/3

Drawing the Street turned six this summer. My thanks to all who have accompanied me from the beginning and to those who have followed along the way as something has caught their interest.

Ironmarket drawing on its way to Newcastle Library -framed by Terry Hunt at Jollies Arts Ltd

With my Newcastle work currently on display in the Brampton Museum and Gallery, I’ve been posting some of these drawings on social media to share it further afield. Having also just completed my 50th street drawn on over 60 metres of archival cotton paper, it seems timely to reflect on how this all began as a post-card sketch.

There’s a beautiful poem called ‘Fluent’ by the late John O’Donohue from his book Conamara Blues. I’ve never forgotten his words:

‘I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.’

When I sketched the former Ironmarket post office on to a post card, I had no idea what would unfold. It turns out that I was sowing the seed for an archive of streets, all meaningful to me in some way. This is part one of three posts about this story.

Ironically, it was the limitations of a post card that prompted me to think about a full-length drawing of the Ironmarket. This all took place whilst attending drawing classes run by Staffordshire artist David Brammeld.   When considering how long to make the drawing, David’s advice was: “Don’t limit yourself!” Shortly after, our son asked me what I would like for Christmas. I suggested a large sheet of paper and received a 10 x 1.2 metre roll! There was no going back.

Ironmarket unfurled , early 2013

I gave no thought as to where this would lead but concentrated on representing the Ironmarket in a way that could be read in future. During my time as a conservation architect, I had always been grateful for old drawings of buildings that showed details which would inform my work. I knew that by drawing a street as a whole, individual buildings could be read in context, such as the shops standing on narrow burgess plots.

Java Coffee shop situated on an ancient burgess plot

The Ironmarket retains a lot of its fine structure and is rich in stories if we pause a moment to look. Drawing is that pause. I choose which parts of my view I want to record – in a way that I hope is also good to look at.

Each drawing starts with a preparatory sketch where I map out the entire street as accurately as I can whilst still keeping it a freehand drawing. I’m always looking at ways to improve my work, whether learning about colour harmonies, shading, light, tone etc but always retaining that close reference to drawing what is there.

This first drawing ignited a great discussion on how the street had changed during living memory and prompted me to draw further streets around the town centre. I held my first exhibition in the library and Drawing the Street was born.

First exhibition held in the Library on the Ironmarket, 2013

Drawing the Street is a growing entity; it has become more than just sketches of streets.  It now contains many memories, some poignant, some funny. As the streets grow, so does my drawing style, evolving to include the things that I see as important – the people that belong to the street, the shops and businesses there at the time, the little details of life such as spotting my old work mates from the roofing contractor Miller Heritage working on the renovation of Mellard’s Warehouse – drawn below.

Although most of my streets are in conservation areas, I like to include the modern infrastructure. These too are part of our surroundings and tell their own story.

Garden Street, (in part) with the later addition of a workshop for TW Heating.

As the streets progressed, I stepped up my work on to archival quality cotton paper and redrew the Ironmarket at a slightly smaller scale than the first 2.7m drawing and entered it into the local open art exhibition. It was voted favourite by the Friends of the Borough Museum and awarded third prize – an honour and a great boost to continue. A few years later, the Friends bought my entire collection!

Thanks again for joining me and for reading this far. The streets belong to us all!

Ronnie 🙂

Derek at the Door

Remembering a Gentleman

Part of Audlem’s high street

Audlem is quite the beauty spot with its canals, painted narrow boats and mix of historic buildings. We took all our visiting relations there when we lived in Alsager and later on from Whitmore; it was a great destination any time of year. We had all grown to love this place so it was an easy choice to draw the main high street – some five years ago now.

Derek loading the newspapers for the day

I include figures in my drawings as they are the life of the street. I take photos of the buildings and whoever is passing by at the time gets drawn in. Sometimes I find out about them later – like I discovered that the gentleman here at the door of Williams is Derek Mckelvey, so much part of the history of Audlem and a delight to meet and chat to when I called in to the shop.

I was very sorry to learn he passed away early in the New Year. My condolences to all the family and the community as they say their goodbyes.

Sunny day in August 2013 – a passing moment when Derek was at the door.

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

A Stately Stoke Terrace

Pen and ink drawing of Fenton, artwork by Ronnie Cruwys
Corner of Hitchman Street and Victoria Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent

Hitchman Street holds some interesting connections for me. When I first saw this red brick terrace, I was on my way to to deliver a framed print of an Audlem street to Williams of Audlem. Not knowing anything about the terraces in Fenton, I looked them up when I got home.

I was surprised to find that the land that these houses were built on was purchased in 1765 by the architect William Baker of Audlem. William Baker (‘the first’ as there were a few more to follow) bought ‘the estate and manor of Fenton Culvert, together with pottery, for his second son William Baker II’ (extract from Stoke Council’s conservation area appraisal). However, it was some generations later when William Meath Baker, the great grandson of the first William, commissioned these terraces. It’s all explained in the conservation appraisal.

William Meath Baker had inherited the Baker Pottery nearby and built these houses (and many others) to provide accommodation on a philanthropic model for the workers associated with the Baker Pottery.

red brick terrace in Fenton Stoke on Trent drawn by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Hitchman Street, Fenton

The Baker Pottery has gone now, but the kilns remain.

victoria-road-baker-kilns-fenton
Baker Pottery Kilns visible from Victoria Road

Pen and ink drwing of Victorian terracotta tile rosettes
Another example of the terracotta tiles on the gables.

Looking up these old threads, it never fails to unearth other connections. When I worked as a conservation architect in Stafford, I spent ten years as part of the team looking after the repair and upkeep of the grade 1 listed Chillington Hall, the south wing which was designed by Francis Smith of Warwick in 1724. Francis Smith was the celebrity architect of the Midlands in his day and it turns out that one of Smith’s pupils was the young William Baker of Audlem, learning from the master.

I’d like to think that an appreciation of good design has been passed down the generations. It certainly  shows up here in these terraces.

To see the drawings in full as well as a few more tile sketches, please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

 

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

Recharging the Batteries

Church Stretton jan 2017 a.jpg
Church Stretton, Shropshire

Plans for January to be a time of taking stock of where I’m going and all that have gone out the window! Instead I’m treating it as a time to recharge the batteries.

We went for a great leg stretch up on the Long Mynd a week into the New Year which helped me recover form some cold bug (too long spent sketching in the cold in Hanley!) when I did the above sketch in Church Stretton whilst Iain went and had a look in a bike shop.

Christmas was fab but we had to say cheerio to our much loved old girl Nina shortly after. She almost made it to 14 years.

Nina, our Chesapeake Bay retreiver, sunbathing
Nina, our Chesapeake Bay retreiver, sunbathing

It’s a quiet house without a dog  (first time in 18 years) – although noticeably cleaner!

Then last Saturday afternoon it was really lovely to meet up with some sketching enthusiasts in Middleport Potteries, as I joined the Stoke branch of Urban Sketchers sketching in and around the buildings.

Middleport Pottery sketch.jpg

pottery-molds

Canadian Pine.jpg
Met up with Paul and Mandy of The Canadian Pine Company – thanks for your hospitality!

Middleport is famous for its Burleighware, those rich deep blue and white pots – we have a jug at home which my sister bought for me – like this one:

Anne's Burleighware Jug.jpg

Thanks for reading and wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2017.

Ronnie

Spouting Sketches

The Perfect Sketch book
Sketch from Spout on St Edward Street, Leek

It’s Christmas Eve so this will be a short one. Just wanted to say thanks for all the follows and comments this year and to wish you all the warmest wishes of the season.

Also, some of you sketching fans may be interested to learn about the Society of Architectural Illustration – full of great drawings by architectural illustrators all over the world. I have been working towards joining this society for some time and not long ago sent off a few examples of my work. I’m really pleased to have been elected a member and the Wedgwood Door, Burslem is now my profile avatar!

I will close with a section of St Edward Street, Leek, where last Saturday I had a coffee in Spout (served up in Blue Calico Burleighware – fantastic!)  with a great view of the opposite side of this historic street – formerly known as Spout Street.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Drawing the street in Leek Staffordshire
Broad Street, Leek

 

 

 

Pegging out Holloway Road

pen and ink urban sketch of Holloway Road
Pegging out the Holloway Road

Thought I would share a few pics of the couple of days spent sketching another stretch of the Holloway Road. This time I brought along a length of cartridge paper which I had prepared at home with a wash of gum arabic and French and English Ochre pigments, to give the paper a bit of warmth.

Note the colourful tote bag by the French American artist  Gwenn Seemel – I admire her outlook on copyright as well as her colourful artwork.

preparing per fro sketching
Adding a wash of ochres and gum arabic to cartridge paper

pen and ink and water colour on holloway road
Sketching out the buildings opposite Cowling and Wilcox

I’d packed half a dozen clothes pegs to clip the paper to a folder which seemed to work quite well. Even though it’s non-stop busy along this road, several people stopped to pass the time of day with me and thanks to Sean for taking this photo and sending it to me.

Ronnie Cruwys Urban Sketching Holloway road
Photo thanks to @seanazzillustration

5-holloway-road-ronnie-cruwys
Pegs and toes keeping the paper curl held down

Holloway road
Have to be quick to sketch between the traffic.

new drawing of Hollway road on water colour paper
Back home and on to the formal drawing.

holloway-road-wip
preparing for the lettering

lettering-on-holloway-road
Adding the lettering

81-to-129-holloway-rd-crop-b
Section of the final drawing – Denmark Place build 1863, the same year that work on the London underground began.

The drawing is now complete, scanned and can be seen in full on my website. Limited edition prints are now available to buy.

Thanks for reading

Ronnie