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, December 26, 2015

From the Canals to the Caribbean

The sketch of the canal barge dates from 1968, the year that I declared myself as an artist on the pavements of France and Belgium.  The water colour dates from 1975, my first year of painting in the Caribbean.



In those early days I was out to prove that I could draw.  By the time the Caribbean came into my life and I was painting with a passion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Shopping list

When painting I pick up the nearest sheet of paper to hand and the same goes for my shopping lists. 

Today’s list of things to do before Christmas is scribbled on a scrap of all-rag water colour paper.  It’s not much to write home about, except that between engineering at the top and groceries at the bottom, there’s a reminder to e-mail models.


The e-mails are to thank them for their dedicated support over the last twelve months.  Without them I would have had to put up the studio shutters and call it a day.  Over the last few months calls for my work as an engineer has meant cancelling one session after another.   But regardless, my muses are always there in readiness to share the triumphs and tribulations of capturing the beauty of the human form. 

As my regular readers are aware, it often takes me months to evaluate a painting.  This is why I resist discarding what I at first consider to be a failure.  This painting of Tashani is a case in point.  Three months ago I cast it aside but now I can see where it came close to succeeding: in particular, with the hands and the curve at the base of the spine. 




Monday, December 14, 2015

Capturing what the camera can’t

My brother is the keeper of the Burnett family photographic achieves and he occasionally features excerpts on his blog http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com.  It is there that I catch glimpses of myself from earlier years.  This photograph dates from the 1970’s and for once I’m behind a camera rather than behind an easel.  The occasion that dragged me back to England was my brother’s wedding.  Incidentally, my brother is a fine photographer in his own right, as you'll see from his blog.


Soon afterwards I was back to painting the Caribbean.  In those days I could find my subject matter in town and village street scenes.  Today’s painting was made towards the end of that period and depicts the flamboyant “Purple Palace” a mock-Moorish building that dominates Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. 


The painting (actually a detail from the original) illustrates how the brush can capture what the camera can’t.  I regard photography as a distinctive art form.  What leaves me cold are paintings copied from photographs. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Art and science

Once again painting and sculpture has to go on the back burner while engineering demands my time and attention.  But there are similarities.  Today’s sketch was made on a site visit in the heat of the mid-day sun to illustrate improvements that need to be made to the island’s main water supply line.  You will notice that my lines tell of my love for the mechanical as much as they reveal my love for the human figure. 



Likewise, Leonardo da Vinci’s engineering drawings show his affinity to art and science.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Elaborating on yesterday’s footnote

A small computer screen cannot do justice to large water colours.   The washes acquire a texture and colour graduation that is not evident in a small reproduction.   Today’s detail is taken from yesterday’s painting.  


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Against all the odds

Today’s diary page comes to you against all the odds.  First my beloved Photoshop2 is no longer recognized by the latest Windows update.  My daughter tells me it’s out of date and the world has moved on to Photoshop whatever it is.  The cheek of it: I only purchased the program 14 years ago!  By that argument I’m out of date and everything I possess is out of date.  Hence, today’s picture comes to you by a roundabout route: from my camera to my son’s computer then back to my computer.

Likewise, the painting pictured was created against all the odds.  For the last couple of months my work as an engineer has taken every moment of my time.  Leonardo da Vinci had the same problem.  In his later years he lamented that his work as an engineer left no time for painting and sculpting.

It was one of my models that gave me the push I needed.  When we began this afternoon’s session my mind was focused on the design of a complicated piece of machinery rather than the beauty of the human form.  I struggled with my first two attempts and then, miraculously, the third painting happened.  Thank you Ryta for your encouragement.


The original measures 24" x 16" and the small image has not the necessary impact.