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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A delicate balancing act

Commissions are a mixed blessing and I normally avoid them like the plague.  Inevitably, they involve a delicate balancing act between satisfying myself and pleasing the sitter.  It was therefore with trepidation that I responded to the request for a commissioned painting of the nude, with the commissioner herself being the subject.

In this case, the task was made all the more difficult as my subject could only manage one half-day session.  On the positive side, I had for my sitter a poet and student of psychology.  From past experience, I have found this combination to be an interesting one to work with.

My subject’s ecstatic response to the finished painting "wow.....I love it" went a long way towards convincing me of that I had kept my balance – even though the end result is more restrained than my usual way of working.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The miraculous thing about miracles…

G. K. Chesterton said, “The miraculous thing about miracles is that they do sometimes happen”.

If my struggles as an artist were to be put on a graph, the resulting line would show a succession of peaks and troughs linked with dead-level plateaus.  Only rarely am I able to get down on paper what I see in my mind’s eye. 

Last week, you saw my first hesitant attempt to capture my latest model.  Towards the end of a second session and after many false starts, the miracle happened!  Sometimes, when I throw down washes in desperation, fate takes a hand.  My muse awakens and with the final flick of a No 12 sable brush, my daring vision becomes reality.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First impressions

The first session with a new model is thwarted with nervous tension for both artist and model.  Arrangements are made and a mutually convenient time is agreed upon.  I set out my materials and anxiously watch the hands on the clock, having stressed the importance of arriving on time.  A couple of days ago the appointed time came and went but no sign of my model.  Just when I was about to give up on her, I picked up a frantic text message: “Sir, I’m lost!”

I’m always losing things, but this is the first time I’ve lost a model, or rather, that a model has lost me.  As I was about to drive off in search (a difficult one to put to passers by, “Excuse me, have you by any chance seen an artist’s model?”) she showed up exhausted. 

Regardless of the upset, we were both determined to save the day.  I made my first two-minute sketch on a sheet of newsprint.  It serves to illustrate a message I stress to my students:  keep all your sketches, no matter how seemingly inferior or insignificant, for within them can be found a line of truth. 

The truth, in this instance, being a breathless model and a muddled artist desperately trying to make the best if it.  But regardless of a difficult start, my model, true to the spirit of artists' models, is game for another session next week.