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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

All that I need to say

Today's painting, small by my standards, is no larger than a sheet of typing paper. Nevertheless, it says all that I have spent a lifetime trying to say in terms of capturing the beauty of the nude figure through the elusive medium of watercolour. 

I did not set out to paint a picture, but rather to give a new model and myself confidence of working together. In ten minutes we had broken the ice.

Thank you Verlena.

Friday, December 8, 2017

No sooner said than done

No sooner had I lamented in my last post of the dearth of models than I got a message from Annabelle, my number one model, to say she can fit in six sessions before finally leaving for medical school in January.

Picking up the painterly threads after three months is not easy. But Annabelle was true to her inspirational self and today’s five minute opening sketch gives me hope that I too can still work the magic.

I regret not capturing Annabelle as she breezed into my studio. While nothing can be more beautiful than the nude figure, the image of Annabelle in an alluring white dress comes close. The next time she wears it, I shall paint it!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In vacant or in pensive mood

It is not oft that I lie upon my couch in vacant or in pensive mood, and on the rare occasions that I do what dwells upon my inward eye is the beauty of the female nude, rather than daffodils. But I confess, the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has me vacant and pensive.

With little time left I need to get on with life, but now every move is tens times more difficult than it was before. Finding suitable models for my paintings and sculptures is a case in point. I search the island like a detective following possible leads. But alas, so far they have come to nought.

Today's drawing of the pregnant nude dates back to 1993.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Up and running again

Nine weeks ago my studio was in a state of retreat from Hurricane Maria: no paintings on the walls and sculptures inches deep in water. The task of restoration has been long and difficult and all the more so because I was determined to improve on what was there before.

Today's picture shows that I am up and running again.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Picking up the pieces

In this life there's so much to do and so little time to do it in.

My whole being yearns to be toiling on the forge of art and in particular, to pursue my work with the figure. Yet here I am, still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Maria. 

Today's picture says it all, or does it. Painting and sculpting alone does not represent my life's work. There's mor to it than that.

This link shows that the pieces are not solely related to my art.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Paradise Lost

We came out better than most from the cruel blow that Hurricane Maria dealt Dominica. The roof of the pavilion under which I teach life classes can be replaced, my damaged paintings and sculptures can be restored and our driveway can be cleared and made passerble again. What cannot be mended is the river that boarders our land. The idyllic bathing pools are gone and so is the path that leads down from my studio. I still go down to the river but the approach is now the equivalent of an assault course and I have to clamber over huge boulders to find a safe place to bathe.

My bathing figure from three years ago serves as a reminder of those halcyon days.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting my head around a "tablet"

If I can get my head around this table that my daughter has bought for me, there is a chance that, after a fashion, I might be able to resume my diary posts. It will mean climbing up on the roof to get reception - no electricity - and the help of my son (a computer geek) to get it to work. It will also mean fitting it in between survival necessities: repairing water pump, re-making the drive for vehicular access, etc. And all of that has to be accomplished on a diet of sardines and corned beef. Fortunately, the rum is holding out!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Major Hurricane Maria

Just over five weeks ago Dominica was hit by one of the worst hurricanes on record: a Category 5+ hurricane with winds in excess of 200 mph. The center passed right over the island. The damage is catastrophic by any standards: 80% of buildings, roads, bridges and services destroyed or seriously damaged. The island is still reeling from the storm and will be for at least a year.

We came out better than most. Flooding was our major problem but most of my paintings and sculptures survived, albeit with some interesting washes courtesy of Maria, as today's picture shows.

Getting this post out has been a major operation (no electricity and no broadband) via cell connections that only work when I climb up on the roof. Hence, posts will be few and far between until better times.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A lament to the British Virgin Islands

I have seen these islands destroyed twice in my life time. First, by the development that began in the late 1970’s; development that eventually overwhelmed the islander’s way of life and the local scene. And second, by Hurricane Irma. Palatial homes can be re-built but I can never again experience my first love.

I remember the Ridge Road when it was a grassy trail from end to end. In those days there were few cars and no buses. To get from East End to Road Town you hitched a ride on whatever came your way. I never locked a door and my boat shared the Maya Cove anchorage with no more than six others.

Perhaps from the mid 1970’s I sensed the inevitable, for it was then that I started gathering material for my book Virgin Island Sketches. My objective was to give the islanders confidence in their own identity and to encourage visitors to accept the islands in the way they found them.

Today's sketch is taken from my book.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Though grim as hell the worst is…

Though grim as hell the worst is,
Can you round it off with curses.

I offer the above lines by Robert Service to British Virgin Islanders to reinforce their resilience in the wake of Hurricane Irma. It was only yesterday that we learnt that all of our many family members are safe, albeit in unenviable circumstances.

During the anxious days of waiting for news I kept my mind occupied by preparing a batch of sugar cane for paper making. I had just poured the pulp into the vat when the good news came through. I celebrated with a rum and orange and added a generous tot of rum to the pulp. The resulting 80 proof limited edition sheets will be presented to family members that bravely fought through the storm – minus roof in one case.

Due to the alcoholic content children under the age of 18 will get half a sheet.

Today’s picture shows the paper in the making. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gone with the wind…well almost!

Over the last few days Hurricane Irma has brought home to me the vulnerability of a life’s work, at least in terms of paintings. Irma’s original trajectory was for directly in line for Dominica. 

The fact that it changed course for the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane is no consolation. Those islands were once my home and I have many family members there. The walls that surround them I built thirty years ago. The roof timbers are strapped down with rigging salvaged from a fifty foot racing yacht. The doors and shutters were made from the finest pitch pine planks. The house and studio survived Hurricane Hugo in the 1980’s - also a major 4/5 hurricane. Let’s hope they do the same again over the next 36 hours.

Dominica will likely miss all but the storms of Irma’s fringe. Today’s picture says it all.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

To disturb those who are calm

My mission statement as an artist is to calm those who are disturbed and to disturb those who are calm.

In pursuit of the latter my opening picture shows this year’s incoming students listening to the opening address at the Dominica State College. The video clip below is of Shah Rukh Khan addressing students at the University of Edinburgh.  

The students are similar, the message is the same, but the difference between the boredom of one and the enthralment of the other is the messenger. One opened with the hope that the students had listened to the Prime Minister’s budget speech (yawn) and the other with the admittance that his face was ugly (laughs).  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One thing leads to another

One thing leads to another and at the moment nothing is leading me back to painting.

Making the equipment I need for paper making is taking all of my time and creative ingenuity. Living on a small Caribbean island means that can’t pop into town and buy the bits and pieces I need. Instead everything has to be made in my workshop, including the vee belt pulleys needed to reduce the speed of the beater roller. Another week and I should be up and running.

Today’s opening picture shows the work in progress.

For those more interested in the beauty of the nude rather than the beauty of the mechanical here is a five minute sketch from a few months ago.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The power to live passionately

How I love the words that are the title of today’s post. They are taken from the announcement of the event shown in today’s opening picture. In full the by-line reads: For the love of dance and the power to live passionately.

My week has been one of diversions: first, a National Holiday and then a day spent attending a University of the West Indies Open Campus Conference. The conference, on the theme of Dominica’s indigenous race, the Kalinagos, comprised of one academic presentation after another. The passion was provided by brief guest performances by Salybia Primary School children and Kalinago dancers.  Sorry, I was so enthralled that I missed getting their photo! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Thirsting to get back to painting

Recently my days have been spent making equipment for paper making. But I’m thirsting to get back to painting. The first picture is where I left off over a month ago. Be warned: my built up creative energy will explode on the first inspirational model that comes my way.

In the meantime: back to the workbench and the 24 blade beating roll that will be used for making paper pulp.