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, September 29, 2013

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...

When my sister-in-law was a medical student, my brother would help her memory retention for anatomy by singing, Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.

I do a similar visual lesson for my life class students.  To illustrate the importance of working from the nude, I begin with the model fully clothed.  As such, everything below the neck and above the knee is guesswork.  The all-important linkages to the torso are hidden from view. 

As the model removes her garments, the beautiful construction of the human form is realised.  The spine traces an invaluable line from head to thighs, the navel can be seen as a central point of reference and the breasts, no longer constricted, reveal their masterly rhythmic curvature.  

These reflections on the essential study of the nude came about through leafing through past exam papers for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate in the Visual Arts.  Option “A” reads:

“Candidates are required to draw a reclining, clothed human figure…the figure must be partially draped with a sheet leaving the head, feet and at least one arm exposed.”

If a student had submitted the drawing shown in today’s picture, he or she would very likely have failed.  Although my sketch titled Black Madonna is partially draped, as per instructions, too much of her God-given beauty is revealed to the eye of the examiner!   

The sketch dates from 1997 is included in my retrospective print portfolio.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You can’t beat an Old Master

Sandy Wilson’s score for of “The Boy Friend”, includes the following verse from “It’s Never Too Late to Fall In Love”:

The modern artists of today
May paint their picture faster,
But when it comes to skill, I say
You can’t beat an Old Master.

Actually, when it comes to speed, the Old Masters could give modern artists a run for their money, any day of the week.

Eric Hebborn, master forger and author of “Drawn to Trouble” and “False Impressions”, reveals how he divined the speed at which the Old Master draughtsmen worked.  He then practised so that he could achieve the same seemingly unerring whip of the hand.  It is that which makes true Old Masters so convincing.

This brings me back to the benefit of working from life.  There is no way that an artist can pick up speed by copying from photographs.  It is the urgency to record what one sees at a fleeting glance that develops the unerring whip of the hand.

I made today’s sketch of a Caribbean market vendor in a matter of seconds – right there, amongst the limes, sour-sops and plantains.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


When an artist reaches the age of seventy, it is as good a time as any for a retrospective exhibition of his work. 

In my case, the complication is one of location.  The exhibition could be held here on Dominica, and it would be nice for the followers of my diary to take a break and visit the Caribbean.  But alas, I doubt that’s a realistic proposition.

In thinking about alternatives, my mind went back to the days when I sold my sketches on the pavements of France: the days when, “I had but a single shirt and not a single care”.  Had you been visiting Europe forty-five years ago, you could have picked up an original Roger Burnett for no more than 10FF, let’s say a couple of US dollars cash!

The best I can do now, is to put together a retrospective portfolio of 12 prints taken from rare originals in my collection.  Each print will be issued in a limited edition of 100 and priced at US$95.  Background notes from my faded page diaries will compliment the series.

My 1991 watercolour of Standing Nude with Blue Ribbon opens the collection.  The remainder will follow over the next few weeks.

Tap me on the shoulder – as my customers did long ago on the pavements of France, or e-mail if you’d like to buy!  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Backstage with Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Over the last forty-five years, at rehearsals, or during an actual performance, I have spent many hours sketching symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and dance companies from the wings of the stage.  When doing so I can feel the spirits of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec looking over my shoulder and egging me on. 

A couple of weeks ago found me in the wings of the stage of Dominica’s one and only theatre, sketching competitors at a showcase of talent titled, “Dominica Can Dance”.  Between getting tangled in microphone cables and dodging the ropes that raise the curtain, I had to work at lightening speed in semi darkness.  Dancers don’t stay still for one second!

I have to thank a young photographer by the name of Maccanie Gallaway and his company “Limitless Studio” for capturing me in the act.  Above you have me along with a selection of my sketches below.