Tag Archives: Drawing

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

 

An iconic kind of door

 

drawing of wedgwood institute
Detail above entrance to the Wedgwood Institute

There’s many a fine building in Bonny Burslem but none with an entrance quite like the one into the Wedgwood Institute.

I recently finished the Wedgwood drawing which I began a few months ago. I picked up the pencil for this one having been influenced some time ago by a poster I bought of the entrance to the Natural History Museum, London, by Alfred Waterhouse.

poster of Natural History Museum
Entrance to the Natural History Museum

I bought and framed this poster when I was an architecure student and it’s now on the wall of our son’s flat, an architectural student, thirty+ years later! I still love the drawing and this is what made me choose to spend some time on the Wedgwood entrance with its intricate tile and terracotta details.

red and yellow ochres for brickwork and terracotta
Terracotta details in the wall of the Wedgood Institute

Terracotta tiles and masonry details next to wedgwood institute
Coat of arms on the side of the Wedgwood Institute

I’ve used traditional pigments with gum arabic on some very heavy (600 gsm) hot pressed watercolour paper. I really like the combination of the warm French and English Ochres, against the bright green malachite and azurite. I’m also hooked on using the pigment called ‘Caput Mortuum‘ – it seems to end up on quite a few of my icons!

It has been a treat to pause and spend time on a small part of a street but it only makes me want to zoom in further and pick up on the terracotta work. This is quite a rich subject which I may explore in future having been sidetacked by some of the tiles in Newcastle under Lyme.

tile details
Collage of terracotta tiles from a building in Newcastle-under-Lyme

drawing of wedgwood door
The final drawing of the Wedgwood Institute door

For more info and to order or stock prints from a small limited edition run, please have a look at my website or email me at RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

Happy Birth Year Mr Renshaw!

pen ink and natural pigment wash on cartridge paper
Cottages on Stone Road Eccleshall, Staffordshire

Not long ago I received an email from Mr Tom Renshaw who used to live at no 9 Stone Road Eccleshall. Tom had received a birthday card from his daughter which showed the cottages closer to the town centre which I drew a couple of years ago.

2crop Stone Rd Eccleshall Ronnie Cruwys

Tom gave some insights into the earlier life of some of the buildings – the wooden fronted building used to be a corn merchant, ‘F.Gardner’ and the building next to it a bakery, ‘where we would buy bread fresh from the oven and eat it without butter or anything else’.

Stone Rd Eccleshall Ronnie Cruwys.jpg

When you reach 82, why not celebrate the whole year? It allows me time to wish you a very happy belated birthday Tom and to sign off with a close up of your former home.

Stone Rd 7 to 13.jpg