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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Words of advice on making art and making love...


Making art, like making love, is 99% passion.  Tie it down to a set formula and you screw up. 

I was reminded of this today when reading an art syllabus for college students.  Heavily couched in the language of academia, it read like a gobbledegook script for the comedian Professor Stanley Unwin.  

When it comes to talking gibberish, many art writers and elite art institutions can leave the rest standing.  A recently launched magazine is focused towards “a converging nexus of artists” and offers “the articulation of a contemporary space, and of a place that lies within coordinates that have become scattered and nebulous, without bounderies”........Eh?

In simpler terms, here are two quotes that speak of the similarities between love and art.

The artist's experience lies so unbelievably close to the sexual, to its pain and its pleasure, that the two phenomena are really just different forms of one and the same longing and bliss. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

If you bring your sexual impulses to your creative work, you'll be working from deep in the genetic code, down where life wants to make new life and feel good in the process. (Eric Maisel)

And just to prove that my passion does not dwell solely in painting the nude figure,  today’s illustration shows how I can work myself into rapturous water colour washes over a clutter of  fishermen’s huts, nets and boats on a tropical beach.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oh what a pity...


To continue from last week, here is the finished 1/12th scale maquette of my bathing figure.  In the final life-size sculpture, water will pour from the calabash shell she holds from outstretched arms.

D H Lawrence’s poem, “Innocent England” laments a court decision to destroy his nude paintings.  It begins:

Oh what a pity, Oh! don’t you agree,
That figs aren’t found in the land of the free!

Fig trees don’t grow in my native land;
There’s never a fig-leaf near at hand
When you want one; so I did without;
And that is what the row’s about…

Likewise, fig-leafs are not easily found in Caribbean and I too did without.   

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A haunting vision from long ago...


A subject that I saw at a glance twenty-three years ago, has haunted my memory ever since.  The place is a secluded riverside on the island of Grenada and the subject is women washing and bathing. 

I alluded to the scene in my book “Caribbean Sketches” and noted that I have learnt more about drawing the figure at the riverside than I have before the artificially posed model in a life class.   To sketch the figure in real life, be it at the market place or the riverside, one has to take time to become familiar with the subject and accept ribald comments with good humour.  The befriending stage can take days or weeks, but finally the subject relaxes and accepts the artist as part of the natural scheme of things.

Such was my patience rewarded when one day, a young woman, undeterred by the teasing of her mates, planted down her basket of washing on a boulder close to my chosen spot.  I rapidly made sketch after sketch until she had scrubbed, beaten, and rinsed her last item.   But her day’s wash didn’t end there, for she next deftly took off her dress and added that to the wash.  Then, unabashed, she soaped herself down and - using a calabash bowl as a ladle - knelt and poured the cooling river water over her naked body. 

Who says that idyllic scenes of nymphs bathing are restricted to past mythology!

That cherished memory is the subject for my next piece of sculpture and today’s picture shows one of my preliminary sketches with the beginning of a 1/12th scale plaster maquette.