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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It’s good to be back

It’s good to be back to painting, even though it was for only the last fifteen minutes of today’s sculpture session. After struggling for over an hour on the half size clay sketch of Annabelle’s reclining figure, I called a halt and said r-e-l-a-x! This Annabelle did with her usual aplomb and here is the result: a transitional moment of glorious stretching. If only I could express the same spontaneity in my sculptures!


Just before today’s session a text message from Annabelle read: is it okay if my mom sits in on the session? My reply: yes, yes, yes, that will be wonderful. And you know what?  It was! And mom is the spitting image of her daughter. I now look forward to one day painting mother and daughter.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Enough is enough



Today’s pictures show my two works in progress. The first is a detail from the life-size torso and the second from the half life-size reclining figure.

With both, I’m tempted to call a halt right there. To add more would be to take away. I’ve said all that can be said. Enough is enough!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A visible voice


A word of advice that I give to art students is: if you’ve nothing to say, go into banking or some other pursuit. Throughout history, painters, poets, writers and musicians have made their voice heard. This is why, under dictatorship, artists are the first to be censored.

Over the years I have tried not to let the side down. My campaigns have ranged from protecting the rights of a child to the built environment. My latest crusade concerns the re-housing of the hundreds of Dominicans made homeless from Tropical Storm Erica. You will find my commentary at the following link:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A woman undressing


This two -minute thumbnail sketch dates back to 2009 and shows my wife Denise undressing before modelling.

The sculptor Auguste Rodin is quoted as saying: A woman undressing… is like the sun breaking through the clouds.

In a similar vein, the American writer Francis Warrington Dawson claimed: The nude alone is well dressed.

I experience a similar revelation when I strip my clay figures of the protective polythene wrap that keeps them moist between modelling sessions.


This morning mist from the mountains kept the clay moist while, in poor light, I began work on Marcella’s left hand.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bringing down the curtain

At today’s modelling session Marcella’s torso quite literally brought down the curtain. The curtain in question being the neutral canvas backdrop that I judge my models against. One gust of from the tropical trade winds and it was gone! But my models are made of tough stuff and I doubt if a hurricane would deter them.

For the sculptor, every bit of the human anatomy poses a challenge. I feel sure that God is saying: So you think it is easy doing what I do. Today’s picture shows work in progress.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Where to start and when to finish

It is the beginning and the end of a painting that determines its worth. The start should set down a predominant line that arrests the artist and links the principal features. In today’s painting that line worked its way along Annabelle’s right arm, silhouetted her breasts and ran down her outstretched leg.

I made a good start but then forgot: it is not what you put into a painting but what you leave out! It was a sultry afternoon, my model had drifted to sleep and I was lulled into painting on and on. As a result, each additional brush stroke diminished, rather than added to, my initial vision.


Nevertheless, today’s painting came as a bonus. This afternoon’s session was really set aside for working on the sculpture of Annabelle’s reclining figure. After an hour, the sheer mental exhaustion placing one addition of clay against another caused me to call a halt. It was then that my model rolled over and the painting came about.

Work in progress on my reclining figure

Monday, June 13, 2016

Depicting three dimensions in two

Three dimensional sculpture does not fare well when viewed as a two dimensional photographic image. The eye is arrested and barred from roaming over the form. However, by the very fact that the image is fixed, a photograph serves as an excellent device for revealing flaws. Incorrect proportions and imbalance become glaringly obvious. A mirror image has the same effect.

By the same argument, a photograph can never substitute for the live model. But in the early stages it can help to refresh the model’s memory. Until the sculpture is well developed it can be surprisingly difficult to remember from one week to the next if an arm or leg rested this way or that.

Today’s picture of work in progress on Marcella’s torso is a case in point. My model has slightly deviated from her original pose. The left arm is now drawn closer to the spine and the wrist falls more comfortably on her bottom. I like the effect and I am tempted to keep it.


PS
Down the side-bar you will find excerpts from my first on-line diary. It was published before the days of blogs and my brother – who regularly burned the night-night oil setting it up the hard way - says that it can lay claim to being the world’s first blog.

When I can find time I will add a section for notable quotes from artists past and present.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pixels and praise

Regular follows of my diary will notice a new header and improved layout. The first features my model Annabelle and second was made possible by a juggling of pixels by my daughter Tania.

The praise comes by way of the painting that I gave Annabelle for her birthday present and featured in my diary on June 1st. Her mum insists that it takes pride and place in their living room. Had it been chosen to hang in the National Gallery, I could not have felt more flattered.

Today’s session included a fifteen minute painting and the start of the clay sketch for Annabelle’s sculpture.





Saturday, June 4, 2016

Tame in comparison to Rodin



Today’s image shows work in progress on my torso of Marcella. Despite all of my efforts to resist finish, it is tame beside how Camille Lemonnier (1844-1913), Belgian, writer, poet and journalist, describes one of Rodin’s sculptures:

At the Maison d’Art there is a torso that seems to have been spewed out from the furnaces of Gomorrah. It has been savagely torn and splayed the way a fissure in the earth cracks open, as though a crucible were exploding in its depths...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ennui

Ennui: a mental weariness due to lack of interest or occupation.  

Between painting, sculpture, engineering and suggesting improvements to the island’s sewage treatment plant, that’s one affliction that I don’t have!

My return to sculpture has been enthusiastically received by my models. In addition to Marcella’s torso I am now preparing for a reclining figure of Annabelle. Here is the preliminary sketch together with a sheet of measurements that will help me build up the initial clay form before we begin modelling in earnest.






Today is Annabelle’s birthday and it also marks four years that she has been my ever faithful model. This, one of her favourite paintings, is her present.