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.

Friday, December 26, 2014

I always get puzzles for Christmas

When I was little, I always got puzzles for Christmas.  But those puzzles always had a picture on the box that gave a clue as to which piece went where.  Now, seventy-two years later, my puzzles don’t come in boxes and they are harder to fathom.  I got three this Christmas.

The first puzzle is connected with my work as an engineer.  It arrived early and took a couple of months to resolve.  Number one picture is of a factory flow diagram as I found it and number two is my logical solution.




The second puzzle relates to the Burnett family’s affliction to deafness.  My mother’s form of deafness actually added a new term to the medical dictionary.  It is known as “Gladys Deafness”.  In other words: only hearing that you want to hear.  Mine is more specifically related to cell phones.  On Christmas Eve I got a call from Jessica that sounded like: Rog come help catch my pig, it’s in d road!  As I didn’t know Jessica had a pig, I was sure I’d miss-heard.  After countless requests to “say it again” I gave up, only to find – via a follow-on text message - that she does have a pig and it was in the road!

The third puzzle was when I asked Denise what she would like for Christmas.  Her request was for what she claimed I had never given her in twenty-three years of marriage!  This one had me really stumped and I had to ask her to spell it out.  Answer: A Bed-Side Table. 

I don’t have a picture of the pig, but here’s the bed-side table that I made from an assortment of Dominica hardwoods.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The practical vs the poetic

As much as I enjoy waxing lyrical on these diary pages, I invariably find that it is practical instruction that many readers are after.

To make amends, here are some pictures of work in progress on a bas relief that will serve as a sign for my studio and gallery.  A few years ago I used the same figure for a small relief dedicated to the memory of the Virgin Island poet Sheila Hyndman Wheatley.  This time the relief is to a larger scale: 3ft x 5ft 6ins. 

I am taking a wax impression from the clay and strengthening the wax with a plaster backing.  The relief will be cast in three sections.  




Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thirty-five years ago


Thirty-five years ago, on the shore of an idyllic cove in the British Virgin Islands, I opened shop in the Caribbean with the Marquee Studio and Gallery.  My boat, along with half a dozen sailing yachts, swung at anchor a few yards off the sandy beach.  The water in the cove was crystal clear.  Seldom did a day pass without the sale of a painting or a copy of my book Virgin Island Sketches.

Today the anchorage is crowded with charter boats and the shore jam-packed with marinas, restaurants and hotels.

Ten years ago, after a period in the UK, I relocated my studio and gallery to the island of Dominica.  Scenically, it is paradise re-found.  On the down side, a month can go by without making a single sale. But then again, I no longer paint the expected!

Today’s pictures show the Marquee Studio and Gallery and my present Antrim Valley Studio and Gallery.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Albert and Enoch


Albert and Enoch, my father and grandfather, would have if field day if they were with me now.  They were both inventive engineers and the work I am doing would have been right up their street. 

One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather’s attic workshop.  Indeed, some of the tools in my own workshop began life on his workbench.  Like me, he was the town’s factotum: when not repairing clocks he cleaned windows.  One of his war medals is inscribed: For Work at the Forge.

At the age of twelve I was helping my father build scale models of factory layouts that he devised the Mackintosh toffee and chocolate works.  If there was a way of improving a production line Albert was intent on finding it - and a scale model was his way of getting the idea across to managers and company directors.

Following in his footsteps, I am currently commissioned to re-plan the layout and production lines of Dominica’s leading food and drink manufacturer.  I have made similar studies for processing the country’s agricultural products. 

On these projects Albert and Enoch would have been in their element.  I often sense that they are looking over my shoulder and guiding me to add a conveyor belt or devise a mechanical devise to speed up production. 

Today’s picture shows an interactive scale model that I made a couple of years ago to show how the layout of Dominica’s main agricultural processing plant could be improved.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Figaro here, Figaro there, Figaro Up, Figaro down…


Like the Barber of Seville, I am Dominica’s factotum and these days I barely have time for painting and sculpture. 

On the engineering side of things I have recently been called to the rescue of all three of the island’s utility services: electricity, water and telephone.  If a bus engine blows a gasket, the cylinder head finds its way to my workshop for re-surfacing.  Bakery dough mixers are another regular item on my workbench.

A more unusual request came my way over the telephone this afternoon when a young lady asked if I could give her a hot bath!  On delving deeper into this tempting inquiry I found that it related to Jessica’s most recent business venture:  Home Visit Therapeutic Massage.  When not modelling, my studio assistant is quick to find an alternative means of livelihood.

Last Sunday I helped Jessica set up her stall at a Health Fair for the Aged.  I confess that I was beginning to feel my seventy-one years until the banner over an adjoining stall gave me renewed hope.  It read: Practice Safe Sex, Use a Condom.     

The picture shows Jessica doing good business.   Perhaps she’s convinced her clientele that therapeutic massage improves one’s sex life regardless of age!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where is the life that late I led?



Cole Porter’s lyrics from Kiss Me Kate could well be adapted to lament the models that I have known. 

We can keep Carolina and Alice as is, but in place of Mono, Lina, Lucretia, Rebecca, Fedora, Venetia and lovely Lisa we can add:

Hemo, Pearl, Pearline, Elizabeth, Samantha, Geneen from the distant past and more recently Annabelle, Dionne and Jessica.  And not least, past and present, my wife Denise.

Today’s pictures date from 1989 and are of the twin sisters Pearl and Pearline, so young and gay.  Where are you now - still auditioning as extras for the movies? 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

To the tune of…


Whenever I think of censorship, I think of the Irish poet Brendan Behan.  At the drop of a hat and a couple of drinks, he would sing the following to the tune of Mac Namara’s Band.

My name is Brendan Behan, I'm the latest of the banned,
Although we're small in numbers we're the best banned in the land,
We're read at wakes and  weddings and in every parish hall,
And under library counters, sure you'll have no trouble at all.

Well Brendan, you’ve got competition.  It appears that today’s painting titled; Jessica Awakening has been banned from the banner of an arts website.

Interestingly, the painting was recently exhibited here in Dominica with no bother at all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Writing from life


Just as I paint from life in order to capture the transient moments of life, I find that poetry is most effective when scribbled down in the heat of the moment. 

The following lines refer to an emotional reunion.  They were text to me, rather than scribbled, by Jessica Bellevue, my model and poetic muse. With poetry, as with painting, the simpler and more immediate the statement, the more profound.   

Seriously I cried and well he held me,
But d more I cried.

Today’s painting is from the series I made of Jessica deep in poetic composition.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Unexpected delights


Who knows what unexpected delights that await us in life thereafter?

Little did Mr. Bearder, MBE, TD, MA (Oxen) and Founder of the Bearder Charity, imagine - while working as a solicitor in this world - that one day the master cast of his commemorative portrait bust would be gazing down on an attractive collection of breasts and bottoms!


But such are heavenly rewards: at least as they relate to the current exhibition of work at my studio and gallery. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moving on…


 In preparing paintings and sculptures for my exhibition “A New Lease of Life”, I worked myself to a standstill.  And while it is a relief to standstill for a while the creative spirit soon yearns to move on.  While I ponder what next in life, my model and studio assistant, Jessica Bellevue, has taken up the mantle on her own account.  

Jessica holds an Associate’s Degree in Sociology and is trained in Therapeutic Massage.  If you add an adventurous spirit and a love for poetry you are then on the verge of something different. 
My passionate belief in the beauty of the human form enabled Jessica to see beauty that had previously eluded her.  She began to realize that the wrinkles of age can be as endearing as the unblemished bloom of youth and the body is beautiful through all its moods and changes.  By combining the techniques of sculptural mold-making with her training in massage, she has developed the skills of Life Casting - an art form that dates back to ancient Egypt. 
The painting “Casting from Life” that introduces today’s diary page is by Edouard Danton (1848 – 1897) and the pictures below are a selection from Jessica’s life casting portfolio.








Sunday, July 13, 2014

Contrary to expectations


Whereas I feared that my exhibition A New Lease of Life would be damned by all and sundry, it has instead been hailed as a breath of fresh air.  This just goes to show that, in the realm of the creative arts, we never know what’s coming next. 

And therein lays the challenge: what next! 

While I ponder over that, I will leave you with a painting true to my objective of capturing the beauty of the female form in all her moods and changes.  Its title: Model with Hand to Pudendum, is taken from one of Rodin’s sketches on the same theme.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Public perception


Before the exhibition opened, I doubted that my paintings of the nude would be well received.  Even though Dominica projects itself as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, it frowns upon going back to nature!  Hence, it’s a pleasant surprise to find that my work has been appreciated by 99.9% of visitors. 

Here are more comments from the visitor’s book:

Amazing work!  Outstanding Exhibition!  Congratulations Roger!  Keep up the great work…

A wonderful exhibition.  Really stimulating and of the highest standard.

Interesting…Interesting…Interesting.


By way of a change, today’s painting is of the Botanical Gardens on a cruise ship day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Words of encouragement


These words of encouragement are taken from the exhibition visitor's book.    

Exceptional work, a wonderful experience…

Well done Roger, an amazing collection…

My friend and teacher, you express life through your work.  Your power and love help me see what’s there and what’s not…

I love this exhibition.  Your work has set me thinking, so full of life…

Free flowing images giving value, grace and empowerment to the human form…

Tonight you have inspired me to venture into a new art form…

I love your work!  Jessica has inspired me with the beautiful nakedness of a woman’s curve…

Today's painting is one of a series that I made of Jessica composing poetry - her favorite pastime while I paint.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I cannot be sane and sensible


When Dagas, in old age, increasingly turned to sculpture, he asked himself: why have I set myself this difficult task at my time of life?  I likewise ask myself, why I have dreamt up this complex exhibition program.  If I was sane and sensible I’d be lounging in front of the television or playing dominoes down at the rum shop.

But in all my 71 years, I have never been sane and sensible.  Moreover, I attract people even crazier than I am!  As if I can’t get into enough trouble on my own they lead me even further down a road that is different to all others. 

Thank you Natalie for that passionate speech about the virtues of the nude at last night’s Lyrics Under the Stars.  I will remember and give thanks for it always.

And we did pull in a wonderful collection of like-minded poets and musicians.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It will be risky


In yesterday evening’s film, The Mystery of Picasso, Picasso suggests a different take.  The director warns him that it will be risky.  Picasso responds by telling him that risks are what he wants to take!

Regrettably, the award winning film showed to empty seats.  Come on Dominica, take a risk and grab a new lease of life. 

Our next film, Classical Steel, is equally inspirational.  It will be screened tomorrow evening (Thursday 26th June) at 7.30pm.  For that film, I want to see bums on seats.  If my hero, Fr. Jolly, can turn out for these events, so can you!

Today’s picture shows the tinted plaster cast of my bathing figure.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pulling them in from the Rum Shop


It takes a lot to empty a rum shop, but if 30 nudes can’t do it, nothing can!

With only ten minutes to go before the start of this afternoon’s portrait painting demonstration, the audience was looking decidedly thin on the ground.  To fill in time I walked across to the rum shop for a cold beer.  The regulars had heard about my exhibition and were curious to know more. 

In my experience, the working man’s perception and reverence for art often surpasses that of the aristocrat.  Today’s welcome addition to my audience was no exception.   

Rebekah was my model, chosen at random from the non-rum-shop segment of my audience.


              

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rog, you forgot me!


The rush to get everything ready for yesterday’s opening throw my mind into even greater confusion than its normal confused state.  I’m famous for forgetting things and during my countless delivery trips from the studio to the Old Mill exhibition venue I picked up a text message from Jessica to say: “Rog, you forgot me!


Denise, Jessica and I wish to thank all who came to the opening.  We will be at the exhibtion to greet visitors from 10.00 this morning until 6.00 this evening.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A New Lease of Life: Exhibition Up-dates


 In the first week the exhibition’s film evenings will feature:

THE MYSTERY OF PICASSO

In 1955 French film director Henri-Georges Clouzot joined forces with Pablo Picasso to make an art documentary that captures the moment and mystery of creativity.  The film is exhilarating, mesmerizing and unforgettable.  In 1984 the French government declared the film a national treasure.

As a fifteen year old engineering apprentice, I remember spending the best part of my first week’s wages at the box office in order to see this film.

At the Old Mill on Tuesday 24th June at 7.30pm  

CLASSICAL STEEL

This award winning documentary features the steelband taking on the role of the symphony orchestra.

The film shows how a percussion instrument invented in the poorer areas of Port of Spain can reach the heights of a symphony orchestra and gain acceptance worldwide as a legitimate instrument.

Following the film, master pan player Atherton Martin will demonstrate the instruments adaptability to jazz and other musical genres.


At the Old Mill on Thursday 26th June at 7.30pm

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The end of a chapter


Since last year I have been working on a new series of paintings and sculptures.  Next week they will be exhibited under the title: “A New Lease of Life”.  An apt name, now that I have reached my three score year and ten.   

It has been said that, however much skill an artist may develop in later life, it cannot result in great work if, by that time, he has settled down and discovered a measure of contentment.  Regardless of a degree of success along the way, I have not arrived at that philosophical state of acceptance.  When my work is finished, I will be finished!

Today’s picture was taken in my studio a few moments ago, on the eve of moving 50 paintings and 10 pieces of sculpture along a stretch of road that's only fit for a donkey.   

Thursday, June 5, 2014

If only…


Today’s painting dates from earlier in the year: a languid afternoon and a painting of Jessica sleeping.  If only we could return for a while to those halcyon days of painting and bathing.  But with an exhibition looming ahead there is no longer time.  Our days are spent frantically framing and sending out invitations for the opening. 

A dear friend, who over the years has fought against every vicissitude that a small tropical island can possibly throw at her, once told me: that if things can go wrong, they will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.   

My digital camera finally gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow, I will spend my last cent on buying a new one.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

ColourMeBlind


The title of today’s post is taken from a poem by Jessica about the colours of love.  It begins:

Let’s paint a perfect picture just you and I…

It then runs through a kaleidoscope of colours related to the highs and lows of love, ending with:

Now before me stands a confusion of colours
Which I’ve just struggled with for hours
Still the colours of love, I cannot define,
So just go ahead and ColourMeBlind.

Jessica read the poem on stage at Lyrics Under The Stars, an event that showcases Dominican poets and musicians.   My job was to get the colours down in sync with the lines. Today’s picture shows the end result. 

As part of our double act, we also shared reading the lines of The Painter and the Poet.  You’ll find the first verse on my diary page dated 14th March.

Both poems were well received by the audience, so if my forthcoming exhibition fails we might try our luck on stage.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A New Lease of Life


Here is the poster and the program of events for my forthcoming exhibition.  It will comprise of forty recent paintings and twelve pieces of sculpture.  As you can see from the program, it will be more than just pictures on wall and sculptures on plinths. 

With less than five weeks to the opening, I’m even busier than usual….and that says a lot



Sunday, May 11, 2014

From one thing to another



When sketched this scene forty years ago Dominica’s Roseau Bay Front was a sleepy sandy beach where fishermen sold their catch.  That was yesterday.  Just as Constable would be painting trucks rather than Haywains if he were to return to earth, my job as a painter is to record today
 
Here then is today’s Bay Front with cruise ship, tour buses, vendors and tourists.


How I miss yesterday!  But in the words of Noel Coward, “The mood has gone to linger on would spoil it anyhow…”

Sunday, May 4, 2014

From 1538 to the day before yesterday



The first painting is Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” and the second, my painting from the day before yesterday.  There have been many changes in the course of five hundred years but the beauty of the nude remains.

Out of all the possible ways of depicting the female nude, the reclining nude is my favorite.  And the same goes for my models, for what better way is there for day-dreaming through a sultry afternoon. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Painterly passions




My idea of an idyllic beach is a deserted beach.  I’m told that, ever since being a child, I’ve always wanted the sands to myself.  Dominica’s popular Mero Beach is never deserted and it was especially crowded on Easter Monday. 


But diametrical opposites attract and it was the blaring music and multitude of revelers that aroused my painterly passion.  The only quite tone was my five-year old autistic companion for the day.  Like me, she silently looked on in wonder.