Tag Archives: sketchbook

Jura: a surprise trip

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a camping trip with Iain. Long enough to have almost forgotten about the many small biting things that are about at this time of year but very excited by the thought of soaking up Jura’s dramatic landscape (dram-tastic all round!) .

Cake stop along the side of Loch Awe

We set off on Friday to catch the ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askraig on Islay. It’s then a short ferry crossing to Jura.

I took a load of art kit with me but in the end it was the pocket sketchbook, watercolours and the fine liner pen that were the most portable as we did a bit more walking than anticipated. All well worth it!

Midges are bearable when you have a camping spot beside the Jura Distillery and a few steps to the bar of the Jura Hotel. Plus the midge coils work – thanks Iain!

All this plus the view below.

View from the campsite in Craighouse, Jura
A wee dram

At 7am next morning there was only the sound of Iain firing up the stove, oyster catchers and the passenger ferry….

Saturday morning – view east towards the Cowall Peninsula

…but this didn’t last! Craighouse was soon all go with nearby grass being strimmed and these lads up working on the distillery first thing.

View west towards Jura distillery

We packed up and went north of Tarbert and south of Inverlussa and set out on foot to Cruib Lodge Bothy. It was a wee bit more of a stride than aniticpated with wet feet and my best bog language for some parts but it was all worth the effort.

Just a few of the many wild flowers out on Jura including orchids, tormentil, bog asphodel and sundew. Lots of this year’s frogs too and otters swimming in the bay opposite the bothy.

Sunday morning and time to depart
View towards Caol Ila Distillery on Islay

Final view of the Paps of Jura from Port Askaig.

A brilliant trip and it feels like I’ve been away months.

Thanks for reading,
Ronnie

Acomb in a few Sketches

My sister celebrates her birthday in June – a great reason to head south to Acomb to celebrate together and to sketch some of the familiar sights of the village where I grew up.

Dad used to grow peonies in the old place in Hobgate

Acomb has a strong sense of place and features in the Domesday Book (1086) when it consisted of some 14 houses. Its name most likely derives from the old English Acum – meaning ‘at the oaks’.

Acomb Green is in the middle edged by mature trees. There’s a slight slope on the land on one side where there’s a childrens’ formal play area. Some 50+ years ago it was a great destination when it snowed – perfect for kids on a toboggan including our family!

Sketching the Sun Inn and St Stephen’s Church on Acomb Greenphoto credit Megs!

Long before this, The Green used to be a sand quarry and there are some great photographs in an article in the Yorkshire Evening Press. Stephen Lewis writes: “The Green was originally known as ‘Yarcomb Sand’oil’, apparently, or the ‘Acomb sandhole’. It is said that this was where sand was extracted for sale in the streets in York – and reputedly for making the glass that went into the great medieval windows of York Minster.”

The Sun Inn with St Stephen’s Church Tower behind

The Green is triangular, defined by three roads. This side here shows York Road (B1224) where you can see the profile of St Stephen’s Church tower – the building itself is set well back from the road.

Lychgate leading to St Stephen’s Church, Acomb

This is a great vantage point to see further afield. As the notice says, the church has a trig point marking it 33.5m above sea level and you can see for miles on a clear day.

This was a morning for quick sketches so we moved along to Front Street to sketch what used to be the Wesleyan Chapel; it’s now private flats.

The Old Chapel, Front Street, Acomb

Whilst looking up some history of Acomb, I came across a blog ‘Acomb – York Stories’ which although written in 2006 has received comments and Acomb anecdotes for over a decade after. It includes a photo of the Chapel in a former life as Ebor Carpets with white-washed brickwork.

29 Front Street, Home to WRDunn Architects and Building Surveyors

Just time to sign off with the exciting news that a set of 60cm size limited edition prints of all four of my Front Street Acomb drawings are hot-off-the-press ready to buy from my Esty shop which can be reached via my website here. Only nine prints available of the 90cm size – please get in touch if you would like to place an order.

Front Street – Love the long views between the buildings

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie 🙂

Step Inside for some Tolbooth Art!

Let’s have a look around the Tolbooth main gallery area at ground level. The side windows face up the length of the High Street and it’s worth taking a look in every few days as work is sold and new art brought in.

Beautiful wooden bowl by Willy Watson, jewellery by Ann Ross, abstract painting by Allan Wood
Textiles by Beth Fleming

Lovely hand-made hats and textiles by Beth Fleming as well as this wee chappie’s bandanas. This is Boothby, the Tolbooth dog. He was given a bit of a fluff-up and a new outfit from Beth and now models the bandanas and tasty dog treats.

‘Boothby’ – the Tolbooth dog
Wooden birds and deer by Willie Watson and necklace by Ann Ross
Brilliant designs by Dave Randall and Andrew Rennie

Look out for artwork by Jean Mellin, Kirsten Harris, Pat McKenzie and Jane Charlton.

Below, some fun wee pirates and elves by Dianne McNaughton – check out her amazing paintings here. Hand-crafted wire-wrapped jewellery by Hanne Harris and necklace by Jean Mellin. A variety of beautiful pottery by artist/ceramicist Richard Price. Glass robins by Sian Press.

Second row Annie Stillman‘s hand -painted hearts, evergreen glass mistletoes by Biggar Glass, stylish glass Christmas trees by Carol Shoel and the wee cottages by Nikki Lambi of Material Geeks.

Bottom row we have hand sewn fabric coasters by the multi-talented artist Evelyn McEwan, walking pebble figures by Gemma Lamara, wee bear (with mask in pocket) by Lisa Ritchie, glass stars by Carol Shoel.

This year, there is a focus to raise funds to improve access to the first floor of the Tolbooth. The Tolbooth is supported by a team of committed volunteers who know what a good thing this place is for the town. Even buying a pack of cards helps!

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Step Upstairs!

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.

First floor of the Tolbooth Christmas 2019

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!

Gentlemen of the Tolbooth 2019…and Millie

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.

West Port Lanark and the Broomgate Lanark, framed by Caledonia Framers and ready to buy off the easel.
Framed limited edition prints of Lanark streets

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.

Tolbooth tree 2021 with glimpses of paintings by Kirsten Harris

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Airborne

Roofline of a Victorian School on Westmuir Street, Glasgow

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!

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