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.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Unfinished Business



At the age of seventy-six I have by no means reached the stage of contentment in relation to my paintings and sculptures. Try as I may, I cannot bring myself to want to control the uncontrollable media of watercolour and to forsake the challenge of the nude figure.  

I have tried to revert back to the landscape, but from a different viewpoint to the tame and slick watercolours that you'll see if you Goggle "watercolour landscape paintings". Today's painting shows my most recent attempt. I leave it to you to sort out the wood from the trees.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: Notes to Painters



Like the subjects that I touch upon in these diary pages, Leonardo da Vinci’s copious writings are in no specific order, and his notes to painters are scattered at random among a host of other subjects. One of his notes came to mind this week as I cleaned behind a cabinet that holds samples of my hand-made paper. It reads as follows:

I shall not refrain from including among these precepts a new and speculative idea, which although it may seem trivial and almost laughable, is none the less of great value in quickening the spirit of invention. It is this: that you should look at certain walls stained with damp or at stones of an uneven colour…You will be able to see in these the likeness of divine landscapes…strange figures in violent action, expressive faces…

Some years ago, in the aftermath of termites devouring my collection of jazz records, I titled one of my posts Termites Have Taste. I can now add that termites have vision. Leonardo would have been as taken aback as I was at their creativity. Their masterly rendition, directly applied to a white plaster wall, measures 30” x 12”.

Perhaps these particular termites have been observing my modelling sessions for I can detect, both in colour and form, a group of my reclining nudes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Confronting the Real Thing

Feliks Topolski (1907-1989) painter and illustrator, claimed that abstract art is a means of avoiding confronting the real thing. I tend to agree. Along with the conceptual art, it is a handy device for many who would like to draw and paint the real thing but lack the ability. 

My abstract art (if that is what it could be called) is a fragment of the struggle with the real thing. The images below are fragments from my paintings of the nude figure. I stress the word “fragment” rather than detail, for my endeavour is to suggest rather than define.



Footnote: To celebrate being re-connected to broadband, my regular followers will notice that I've added a new image to the title of my blog. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

When least expected


Sometimes a breakthrough with my work comes when least expected, especially when seeking inspirational models for my series, Daughters of the Caribbean Sun

Dionne came to me a couple of weeks ago as an aspiring art student.  But as is often the case, those with no prior intention of modelling become some of my best models. Modelling serves as a masterclass in understanding the trials and triumphs of an artist’s work and moreover, to being part of the creative process.

Below are my first three hurried sketches of Dionne. Just when I thought I had exhausted the nuances of the female nude, my model’s twists and turns showed me otherwise.

Despite initial reservations, Dionne’s emailed response to her first modelling session reads: Today was terrific…I’m looking forward to our next session.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ireland's Inland Waterways from Fifty Years Ago


The book that records a voyage I made through the canals and rivers of Southern Ireland fifty years ago is finally in print and available through Amazon.

As I mentioned in an earlier diary page:

Fifty years have passed since making the voyage that is the subject of this book. The manuscript that began as an up to the minute guide is now an historical document. Like the canals, it is a miracle that it has survived. 

When my original publisher to put the book on hold due to financial restraints in the early 1970’s, the typed manuscript took off on an amazing voyage of its own. It twice crossed the Atlantic aboard small sailing boats, survived storms at sea and two major hurricanes on land. For years it languished on a shelf in my studio, all but forgotten about.   

Between making the voyage and retrieving the manuscript, there is a time lapse of half a century. During those intervening years the inland waterways of Ireland developed beyond belief. What was then abandoned is now restored and the navigations upon which we once sailed in solitude are now popular cruising grounds. I have resisted updating the text in memory of those earlier idyllic times.



Saturday, January 5, 2019

Practicing What I Preach

On occasions - and against all odds on a small island in the Caribbean - I meet a young person with a passion and potential for art. Six years ago I tried to introduce a one year foundation course in the visual arts for school levers but there was little interest. This is because art hardly figures at all in the secondary school curriculum and is therefore unknown. Through the Ministry of Education I have offered free introductory workshops but to no response. The island's State College offers nothing at all in Visual Art.

To get around this dilemma, I keep on open studio door for those interested in pursuing art and give ad hoc help and encouragement on a one to one basis. With me they don't learn how to mix colour but how to see colour; rather than copying from photographs I give them courage to draw from life; I don't watch them paint, they watch me paint. It is the absence of demonstrating that most art teaching falls down flat. There is not one art teacher in a thousand that dares to stand before their students and paint. 

Today's picture is a  fifteen minute portrait that I painted as a demonstration for Dionne, my latest prodigy. The sitter is her sister Danielle. Dionne desperately wanted to study art on leaving school but as no courses are available she's studying Law Enforcement. I am sure that there are many potential law enforcers in this world but few young ladies with the Dionne's passion and potential for art.

The same holds true for my equally talented model Verlena. There are thousands of Human Resource Managers, but very few talented calligraphers.

  


Friday, December 28, 2018

The emotional impact of colour


Abstract art has nothing on nature, particularly when it come to design and the emotional impact of colour. In comparison, the painterly daubs that so often pass as abstract art are a feeble thing.

Today's picture is an off-cut from the tree that demolished the roof of my life-class teaching studio during hurricane Maria. On my wood lathe, I am now busy turning segments of the tree into bowls that retain the tree's colour and grain pattern. The colours are so similar to the skin tones of my models that it seems nature herself benefited from observing the subtle beauty of the nude. 

Below is a partly turned bowl from the same tree. I now need to allow the moisture content to reduce further before finishing.



Below is the finished bowl.



Saturday, December 22, 2018

In all innocence

In creating paintings and sculptures that express the beauty of the nude figure, my models and I work in all innocence. 

In addition to this blog, a small selection of my work is posted on Tumblr, the reason being that I follow the work of others on tumblr who have a similar interest. True, some of their postings may be deemed pornographic, but even at 75 I keep on open mind. I have a greater issue with the foul language that is often found on Facebook postings. Like D H Lawrence, I have no problem with the powerful single syllable "F" and "C" words providing their meaning is kept in their truer context of sexual intercourse and the vagina. I denounce them as curse words.

A few days ago I was alerted to Tumblr's out of the blue crack down on what their censors deem as "adult content"; and "adult" applies, not just to children, but to viewers of all ages. I thought my work would be except, but on checking I found that many of my posts had been deleted. Curiously, the posts that one might class as being on the borderline were left intact and the more innocent ones deleted. It seems that I can paint and sculpt breasts providing that I omit nipples!

I appealed their decision in relation to my work and, to the credit of tumblr, my appeal has been granted.

Below, in all innocence, is one of the paintings titled Jessica Reading that they initially deemed as phonographic. The adage still holds true: he who thinks evil sees evil.

My forthcoming book Notes on the Nude deals with these issues at greater length.





Sunday, December 16, 2018

Who, where and when?

It  becomes confusing. My past portfolios contain thousands and paintings and sketches. You can add to that hundreds more that were started but never finished, as with today's pictures.

I can vaguely recollect making these sketches but what eludes me is: who, where and when. Moreover, after a promising start why did I not see them through to completion.

I stress that these sketches are unfinished and worse for wear after being battered by two hurricanes. They are therefore to be viewed in the context of this post. I say this because of a recent unfortunate experience where one of my paintings was used, without my approval, and re-published out of context. May I remind the unscrupulous, that both text and images are subject to copyright. 



Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Note of Thanks

My forthcoming book Notes on the Nude begins with a dedication to my models - for without their contribution to the creative process my work would not exist; and ends with an acknowledgement to my daughter Tania for her help in formatting the text and illustrations.

Below is one of my faithful models, followed by my equally faithful daughter Tania.



Footnote:

Two days ago we were reconnected to broadband after the major hurricane that devastated Dominica of over a year ago. For these posts and my work in general, it is a huge step forward. My thanks to Cable and Wireless, our service provider. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Am I wasting my time?


Recently one of my commentaries in the media evoked contrasting opinions. The subject was my mission to convince the Afro-Caribbean woman of her natural beauty, rather than prostituting herself to a foreign concept of beauty. It was titled: The Colour Black.

The first respondent stated: "You are called upon to be a voice to our Afro-Caribbean sisters through your work. You must never give up".

The second respondent claimed: "It is a waste of time for Roger to waste his attention on these people....he should use his God given talents to make money and become rich...there is scenery he can paint which will make him plenty of money.."

I have on occasions painted "scenery" but not the type that is likely to make me rich. My task is not to paint the beauty that you can already see, but to lead you to beauty that would have otherwise eluded you.

Today's picture is not of a palm fringed coral sand beach, but of the countryside that surrounds the industrial towns of my native West Riding of Yorkshire. 

It was painted twenty-five years ago, and when today I took it out of its frame to photograph I found the caption that was attached when it was first exhibited. It reads:

"Whether it be the figure or the landscape, no photographic reference can match working from life. Not only must I see the approaching rain shower, I must smell it and feel it".

Nothing has changed!!


Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Naked Truth


Other than to keep warm in cold weather, I see no point in wearing clothes at all. From a moral standpoint it makes no sense. A clothed body is more sexually alluring than a naked body. We cover breasts, bottoms and pudenda but leave the face unashamedly in full view. Yet when it comes to seduction, whether the message is innocently beguiling or sexually provocative, the face wins hands down. We might hide the body but the face speaks the naked truth.

It is the exposed naked truth that makes an honest portrait difficult to paint or sculpt. By flattering the sitter I am guilty of fraud. It is usually on my first attempt - a hurried sketch made in a matter of minutes - that I come closest to the truth but not necessarily to what is perceived as a "likeness".

Fortunately, I get to keep those first attempts while the sitter claims the likeness. Here, in all honesty, is one of them.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Taking a chance

Research for my book "Notes on the Nude" has sent me digging deep into portfolios and dairies from long ago. The sketches below are of my wife Denise and they were made in the confined space our boat's cabin. My diary note from twenty-six years ago that goes with them reads:

"...I have to take a chance and in doing so risk failure, but not total failure for there is credibility in trying. The results are imperfect, but not without a degree of truth. The truth being my passionate belief in the beauty of the nude..."

Nothing has changed, I am still taking chances and I still have a passionate belief in the beauty of the nude.






Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fragments and Versos

In my book "Notes on the Nude" I make mention of fragments and versos.

Within watercolours perceived as failures I find fragments of truth, and on the verso of a painting that has been cast aside I sometimes achieve success.

If only the painting in its entirety had the strength of the breast emerging from the depths of its surrounding shadows, as in the fragment below.



Luckily, I found this forgotten drawing of the fore-shortened arm and torso on the verso of an early painting in my series "Daughters of the Caribbean Sun".




Saturday, November 3, 2018

Sexy Sam


When Samantha modelled for her sculpture twenty years ago she was a college student and her e-mail address was "sexy sam". From more recent correspondence I learn that she has climbed to the top of her chosen profession, got married and is expecting her first child. 

Actually Samantha didn't come to my studio with the view of being a model but to chaperone a friend that did. It is not the first time that I have chosen the chaperone rather than the applicant. Hence, the end of a beautiful friendships.

Samantha re-entered my life today as I was looking through images to illustrate my forthcoming book "Notes on the Nude". Samantha's sculpture qualifies as it includes, as she put it in her student days, her boobs.