Tag Archives: urban sketching

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

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

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

Porridge at Bill’s

Bills for breakfast
Starting the day with tea and porridge at Bill’s, Longacre

Last weekend we joined up with Crohns & Colitis UK fo their annual walk around London. It’s a great way to see our capital and better still, it gets the word out about the support that’s available for anyone who has Crohn’s or Colitis.

CkFv_QCWYAASh4S.jpg largeWe set off from Stoke Station in our purple tee-shirts. Once on the train, it wasn’t long before a lady offered us a donation; her sister was diagnosed 50 years ago, but back then it was something that wasn’t talked about at all. I found this a very moving gesture as I think that it is only in recent years that it is finally being brought to light and all credit to those who have worked so hard to raise its profile.

It was a day out for us and yes, I brought my sketch book!  I’ve had my head down recently gettting on with my icon diploma work as it’s only four months till our end of diploma exhibition in Shoreditch.

I enjoy sketching on-the-hoof and my favourite sketching has to be the half minute bus/train stop sketches….they’re  just thumbnail views of life on the go. Enough words – time for a few pictures!

train sketch 1
Train stop sketches
train sketches 2.jpg
Train stop sketches

 

london bus sketch 3a.jpg
Bus stop thumbnails

 

Whitehall
Skyline above Whitehall, London
whitehall old shades
Whitehall, The Old Shades, gable dated 1898
Lincolns Inn fields
Liquid lunch
no prizes
Opposite Condor bikes on Grays Inn Road

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Kindness of Strangers – Part Two

sketch of ice cream van
Perfect day for an ice cream

Only a few days after sketching my broken down car on the hardshoulder of the M6, I was sketching on the grass verge of Rosemarkie beach. Once again, I began to sketch a vehicle but this time it was Maureen’s ice cream van which caught my eye. I was lost in drawing so it took me by surprise when Maureen herself hopped out of her van to present me with an ice cream!

Following this kind gesture, my family were keen for me to sketch other eateries in Rosemarkie in the hope of free snacks for them too, but there is stiff competition from the local gulls.

Gull
Gulliver on the chimney of the Old School House, Rosemarkie

This is our sixth visit to Rosemarkie, a seaside village on the Black Isle, about 30 miles east of Inverness, full of lovely traditional buildings such as the Groam House Museum.

sketch of groam house Museum
Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie

For anyone interested in Celtic design, a collection of the work by George Bain is held here. He published the book ‘Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction’ in 1951, which did much to revive interest in the subject.

Beach Boule
Beach Boule, Rosemarkie

I will leave you with a sketch of the view from the Old School House.

Thanks for reading and keep on sketching – wherever you are.

Ronnie

sketch of Moray Firth
Moray Firth from the Old School House, Rosemarkie

Kindness of Strangers Part 1

pen and ink drawing of lorries on M6
Broken down but my pen is still working!

A couple of weeks ago, my car broke down in the midst of a tailback after a pile-up on the M6 northbound. It’s an alarming experience to be stranded in the central lane as the rest of the traffic began to surge ahead around me. As I rang the emergency services, a chap leapt out of his car beside me, beckoned to a few others and they pushed me over to the hardshoulder. It happened so fast that they were back in their cars and gone in a matter of seconds.

My heartfelt thanks to these strangers.

sketch of hardshoulder
View from the hardshoulder

Safely off the road,  I had my handbag, sketch book and pen so I got stuck into a few sketches. I never travel without these thanks to Sketchbook Skool.

sketch of weeds and insects
Scratching insect
drawing weeds
Spikey leaves and flowers
drawing feet
Feet make a good subject to sketch
drawing in sketch book of hands
Saddle Sore

Eventually, the recovery vehicle towed me back to the garage shortly before closing.  The AA man and Kwik Fit  lads pushed my car into shelter in pouring rain ready for Ryan of Rytech to work on it the following week. Thanks lads.

I was supposed to be collecting my American family from Manchester Airport and my husband was supposed to be going to his friend and colleague’s funeral, but none of this went to plan. This day could have felt a write-off  but with the kindness of strangers and a sketchbook and pen, I can reflect on it in quite a different light.

Thanks for reading.

Ronneie

Gallery at 12, Eccleshall

It has been quite a month. Apart from finishing off a few more drawings in between a few fun family events, quite a lot has been happening.

drawings of eccleshall, Micklegate, Keele walled gardens
A few drawings more

First of all, a big thank you to Paul at the Stone and Eccleshall Gazette who found my work on the web and then gave me a fab introduction to Eccleshall with his generous write up. This has been so timely and I really appreciate this vote of confidence. It was published just as I had placed the first framed print of Eccleshall High Street on the wall of Gallery at 12.

stone and eccleshall gazette
Paul’s generous write up in the Stone and Eccleshall Gazette.

Just before this happened, my Instagram site (@ronniecruwys) took off.  I have been posting work-in-progress photos  for the last 9 months and have been using hashtags to connect with other artists interested in the same subjects, for instance #Eccleshall or #Drawing #Architecture. It has been great to connect with people all over the world and share stages of my work in progress. One drawing (of Audlem) got reposted on to another site and within 2 days had over 30,000 likes. Crikey. Meanwhile, Stone Road Eccleshall is getting a respectable response too.

Screen grab of stone Road Eccleshall drawing work in progress
Instagram approves of the Stone Road

I would also like to give a big vote of thanks to my new Instagram buddies @carolineiam @daveh500 @eddequincey for pointing me in the direction of Gallery at 12, where I have since become a member, and for giving me such enthusiastic support!

What’s more, I actually met @carolineiam last night in Eccleshall, in one of those wonderful moments of serendipity!

So, back to the Eccleshall drawing.

This is now scanned and on the website www.drawingthestreet.co.uk if you want to see it full length.

 

Starting with the grade 2 listed building home to Wyn’s and the old Sweet Shoppe:

Eccleshall  high Street
Katherine House, Eccleshall Pharmacy, Wine Etc, Spencers, the old Sweet Shoppe and Wyns
Eccleshall the old sweet shoppe and Wynns
Close up of the old Sweet Shoppe and Wyns

No 2, on the corner is early C19.

Next along is the Arcade, home of Eccleshall’s artists’ co-operative, Gallery at 12 and the lovley coffee shop The Artisan.

pen and ink drawing of gallery at 12 Eccleshall
The Artisan, The Arcade with Gallery at 12, Eclipse and Little Monsters
gallery at 12
A glimpse into Gallery at 12, High Street, Eccleshall, with my first few small sized prints up.
clock at james du pavey
Quick sketch over coffee at the Artisan last Saturday – Clock outside James du Pavey

 

the Bell Eccleshall
No 24, a grade 2 listed building, Eccleshall Library, Francesco Hair group and The Bell listed grade 2, Eccleshall
drawing of Star Pizza and London House
Star Pizza,  London House and Nisa

British Listed Buildings Online is a great resource for the history of our streets. The building to the right of London House is listed grade 2, early C19. London House is also listed grade 2, and probably late C17 or early C18.

I do plan to continue with drawings of Eccleshall so please follow this blog if you would like to be kept up to date – or over on Instagram.  Thanks for reading.

Ronnie (@ronniecruwys)