My on-line diary began in the 1990's from my studio in the North of England. After a lapse of ten years, I resumed posting from my present studio on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

From the far beginning, the intention has been to give an insight into my working methods, and to share the triumphs, trials and tribulations of work-in-progress.

My diary pages are followed by thousands of artists, art students and art lovers in over 50 countries.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Times have changed

A few days ago my brother posted a photograph of one of my previous studios on his classic blog: http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/ . The photograph dates from the early 1970’s when my studio was located in Southern Ireland. In a responding comment I promised his follows more pictures and memories of the same.

To begin, one of the paintings that is just discernable in the picture had far reaching consequences. It is a sketch I made of Enzo Plazzotta’s sculpture The Jamaican Girl. The sculpture had been exhibited the previous year at the Kings Lynn Arts Festival. It was at the same festival that I held my first one man show, Lynn and Locality.

I was so seduced by Enzo Plazzotta’s sculpture that I followed my temptress to the land of her birth.  Thus the Caribbean became my adopted home and the beauty of the Afro-Caribbean female nude the principal theme of my work. Little does my seducer realise that she has given birth to the hundreds and paintings and scores of sculptures in my series Daughters of the Caribbean Sun.

By delving deep into an old portfolio and I found the very sketch I made of Enzo Plazzotta’s The Jamaican Girl. Here it is, followed by a photograph of the sculpture.



 I have also found this photograph of my studio; a converted village school, at Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.


 My brother’s blog attracts scores of comments, whereas for my diary pages they are few and far between. I therefore welcome this opportunity to assure Mike Brunbaker and Little Nell that everything around me has to be tidy in order to allow my creative muse run amok. And to temper the wishes of Alex Daw by paraphrasing the words of George Orwell: painting is the worst punishment that I can possibly devise for myself.

Friday, February 24, 2017

From all angles

A painting is judged from one vantage point, whereas sculpture is judged from all angles. A feature that appears correct from one perspective may appear flawed from another. Moreover, the eye is not static. It continually roams over the form and in doing so ignores minor irregularities. And the eye of the artist, critical as it may be, nevertheless dwells on the best vantage points.

Photographs of the work in progress are a valuable aid in highlighting errors. The click of the camera arrests the wondering eye and dispassionately focuses on that angle alone. In the early days of photography, the sculptor Rodin marked on prints of his work weaknesses that needed correction.

Today’s pictures shows the figure in its entirety.






Thursday, February 23, 2017

Leave well alone

Leave well alone! This is what I’ve been telling myself over the last few days.

At this stage, any adjustments or refinements that I make to the figure will only serve to diminish rather than enhance. What I’m after are suggestions rather than specifics; the sensuous rather than the sexual. I’m not in the business of defining hair follicles. I’ve gone as far as I wish to go and it is now up to you, the viewer, to interpret the rest.

There will be no before and after shots as promised in my last entry: what you now see is what you’ll get. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Subtle adjustments

Over the coming days I will be critically assessing my sculpture from all angles. I will share with you any adjustments, subtle as they may be, by way of before and after pictures.

Today’s pictures show how the modelling of the right hand has been modified to give it more life. The fingers have been raised and re-aligned so as to better follow the curve of the body and the little finger is allowed greater freedom.

Before


After

Sunday, February 19, 2017

At a single stroke

My dairy page dated 8th July 2016 titled: Working at the Speed of Light refers to the Sunday Times art critic, Waldemar Januszczak’s astonishment at Michelangelo’s handiwork on the Sistine ceiling. As he aptly observed, “Adam’s famous penis was traced with a single cocky outline”.

My task is to now complete my sculpture of Annabelle’s reclining figure with the same assured flair. I have to resist refining and instead suggest, at a single cocky stroke, continuity from the pale saffron soles of her feet to the last wayward strand of her hair. Detailed definition must not distract the eye from the rhythm of the whole





Friday, February 17, 2017

State of the Art

Once in a while, by way of the World Wide Web, I search out the competition: contemporary painters and sculptors of the nude. For the most part the abstract, the conceptual, the cartoon and photo-realism are the dreary order of the day.

Will there ever be another Egon Schiele or Auguste Rodin? One died young and the other lived into old age but either way, few have followed in their footsteps with the same originality, daring and aplomb. Here is a reminder of their work.


Both artists were in my mind today. First Rodin, as I worked on Annabelle’s reclining figure and then Egon Schiele, in the five minutes of sweet relief at the end of the session that resulted in this painting.  


Friday, February 10, 2017

Dedication

As a figurative painter and sculpture I can, at a pinch, work without paints, brushes, paper or clay. What I cannot work without is a live and inspirational model.

For two weeks Annabelle, the model for my current work in progress, has been laid low with flue and the life-size sculpture of her reclining figure has had to be placed on hold. This is not as easy as it sounds. First, spontaneity is lost; and second, it is difficult to keep the clay under wraps without deterioration. Each day the clay has to be lightly sprayed down to prevent it drying out, but too much moister and contact with polythene covering sheets takes the edge of the modelling already achieved.

Regardless of working seventeen hour double shifts at a call center (to fund her studies at medical school) and a body wracked with flue, Annabelle nevertheless sent me a message at 2.45am today to say that she’s determined to get in three modelling sessions in next week to make up for lost time. Now that’s dedication!

In the meantime, here is another picture of work in progress.





Saturday, February 4, 2017

If only the virtual was reality

In a recent post I lamented on the increase of virtual visitors to my studio, as against a decrease in actual visitors. But now that my diary pages have been added to the world’s top 50 sculpture blogs, I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

To get a taste the other 49 top sculpture blogs go to: 
http://blog.feedspot.com/sculpture_blogs/

I am sure that by now there must be virtual models. But regardless, I’ll stick to the real living and breathing thing, notwithstanding that this week I’ve been without model due to my ever-faithful Annabelle being down with the flue.

Thirty years ago two of my models, Pearl and Pearline, were identical twins. This might appear to be a handy solution to bouts of flue, etc. However, to the critical eye of the painter and sculptor, identical twins are not as identical as they appear at first glance.

Here is Pearline in pastel and Peal in red Conte Crayon.





Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Similarities

There are similarities between my way of painting and my way of sculpting.

With watercolour, speed is of the essence and it is the same when modelling with clay. Both give of their best when given freedom and then left alone. Overworking only screws things up.

True enough, the time frames are different. A watercolour can be thrown down in a matter of minutes, whereas sculpting a life-size figure in clay can take weeks. With both I work from the live model. This is easy enough when a painting can be done in one sitting, but more difficult when the modelling goes on from one week to the next. 

To get around this I draw on a lifetime’s experience, rather than a reliance on photographs, and do what I can between modelling sessions. The ear and hair shown below are a case in point.


This detail of the model’s right breast shows how suggestion can be achieved by putting down and then leaving well alone.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

From the past to the present

After the brief sojourn to the canals of Ireland in my last entry, I now return to the present to bring you up to date with work in progress on my life-size sculpture of Annabelle’s reclining figure.

My double dilemma has been resolved: the finish will be by suggestive hints and the torso will be extended to the full figure, with the right foot tucked under the left leg. This involves some re-working from the waist down because the re-positioning of the legs gives the hips a subtle twist for the better.


As you can see in today’s pictures, the hands have begun to take shape. But I dare not go further until I have my model before me.