Tag Archives: London streets

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,



Tile Anorak

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for terracotta tiles which jazz up the fronts of late Victorian buildings and have begun to sketch and record them – their patterns and dates if provided. I had a hunch that they might give me a means to map connections with times and places.

Yesterday I was sketching in Islington, first along the Hornsey Road and then along Upper Street when I looked up and saw the very same tiles that I had sketched on a primary school in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Terracotta tiles
246 Upper Street, Islington

Yes, I’ve turned into a tile anorak…

However, the above sketches are the tiles which I drew from Hassell St School:

Victorian terracotta tiles, Newcastle under Lyme
Hassell St School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

I’d love to know where these tiles were made. One source could be Blashfield’s

Another could be Gibbs and Canning of Tamworth.

Either way, the primary school in Newcastle-under-Lyme seems to have been ahead of the ornamental facade game by a few years – go ‘Castle!

Seen any tiles near you? Send me a pic with the location and any other info and I’ll add it to the log.

Thanks for reading and happy Friday wherever you are.



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

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
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.
preparing for the lettering
Adding the lettering
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



Sketches from a London Bus

Pen and ink sketch of London Chimney pots
Chimney pots from the 253 Euston bus to Nag’s Head, Holloway

Over the summer, I spent some time down in London, with our son. I was in the middle of Sketch Book Skool  drawing frenzy, making the most of every moment I could to draw – even on the top of a London bus!

Pen and ink sketches of London windows from the bus
Windows from the 253 bus from Euston to Nags Head

Once you start sketching, you can’t help but notice how much more you want to draw and it was during this time that I made the rash promise to myself that I would draw the Holloway Road.

After a few months preparation I have begun to work on the first of what I hope will be many more drawings, but thought you would like a flavour of what’s to come with some of my summer sketches.

Thanks for reading!


Pen and ink sketch of Croissant D'Or Holloway Road
Le Croissant D’Or, Holloway Road, London – a great place for breakfast!
Sketch of the windows on Albermarle Mansions
Windows on Albermarle Mansions, Holloway Road.
Pencil and watercolour wash drawing of a window on Albermarle Mansions
Detail of Window on Albermarle Mansions
Pencil and watercolour drawing Albermarle Mansions Holloway Road London
Detail of another window on Albermarle Mansions, Holloway Road, London
Pen and ink drawing of Windsor Road London N7
View from top flat, WIndsor Road, Holloway, London