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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In labour

My diary entries for August 2nd (A haunting vision from long ago) and August 11th (Oh what a pity) tell about the conception of the life-size figure that is presently my work in progress.

As in real life, conception is pleasant and painless, whereas giving birth can be agonizing.  Although delivering the final bronze cast can drag on for many years, the completion of the work in clay represents the true birth.  

As you can see in today’s picture, after a score of sessions with my model and many sleepless nights, the figure is beginning to take shape. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Work in Progress, Part 2

Today’s picture shows the progress we’ve made on the portrait bust over the last couple of weeks.  Once again I stress “we”, for without a model there can be no portrait.

My model solved my dilemma with her straightened hair by arriving one day wearing a traditional Creole head-tie.  The madras “headkerchief” can be tied so that the corners make one, two three or four points.  The number of points carry a message to would be suitors. 

One point means, my heart is free.

Two points, my heart is engaged but you can take a chance.

Three points, my heart is already taken.

Four points, I have a place for whoever desires.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Between sessions, my most recent model is studying Business Management.  Last week, as part of her course work, she had to make a presentation on the subject of teamwork.  For her topic, she cited the artist and model as one of her examples.

Her choice speaks volumes about her understanding of the crucial role of the model.  Furthermore, it set me thinking about a host of others who have contributed their skills to the sculptor’s work.  

Not least on the list are those master craftsmen who for centuries have made the tools for the job.  This link will give you glimpse of what’s involved.  Then comes the moulders, who job is to take the initial waste-mould and then the intricate piece-mould.  And finally, the multiple skills of the foundry workers. 

Over the years I have been privileged to share the work of these incredibly accomplished artisans.  Sadly their numbers are in decline and there is an urgent need to train future generations before their skills are lost forever. 

To make full-circle, let me come back to the contribution of the model.  From a life-time’s practice I’ve learnt to make my own tools and take my own moulds.  Given a furnace, I can cast in bronze.  But without a model, sympathetic to the work at hand, I can’t even begin.

Today’s sketch shows one of my models relaxing between sessions and I dedicate it to all of those who have worked behind the scenes to make my work possible.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Work in progress

I hate the finality of finish but favor work in progress. 

The portrait bust shown in today’s picture was started just over a week ago.  As a work in progress, it will continue to evolve over the next couple of weeks.  The day will then arrive when the end result has to be cast, once and for all time.  

I found my model, not in some halcyon Athenian bower, but selling mangoes by the road side.  Had I have grabbed her there and then, she’d have come with her hair plaited in cane-rows.  Alas, by the time I arranged for her to sit for me she had straightened out her God-given hair.  Why oh why do so many West Indian women fall for a foreign concept of beauty at the ruination of their own?

Never mind, by the end of this week, I’ll see that her clay image reflects the the race to which she was born.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How long has this been going on?

Being cast away on a tropical island has its disadvantages.  Other than local fare, the world of concerts, plays and exhibitions is thousands of miles away.  It is difficult to keep pace with developments in the arts and until the advent of the internet, well-nigh impossible. 

These days, thanks to the world-wide-web, I can make the virtual best of it.  When I sketched the Northern and English Ballet fifteen years ago, the inspirational Ballet Black didn’t exist.  My next visit to the UK will be timed to tie in with one of their performances. 

In similar vein, nowhere in my fifty-year old collection of LP’s will you find recordings of the virtuoso jazz violinist Regina Carter.  In those days, she didn’t exist.  If you hear of a painter and sculptor walking on water it’s me, determined to get to one of her concerts.  In the meantime, here she is at:

I can even search and find a rare and lost Stan Kenton and June Christy 10” LP that includes the song that I’ve used for my title.  I suspect I’ll find it on my brother’s shelf of LP’s.

Today’s sketch is one of a series that I made of the Northern Ballet at rehearsals.