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, February 27, 2016

Doing what comes naturally

If artists make love with the same restraint that the majority paint pictures, it must be a boring business. And theory doesn’t help. On the other hand, passion definitely does.

In the days when I painted landscapes, I waxed lyrical about the view. Now that I work with the figure I wax lyrical about the model. Just as I allow my watercolour washes the freedom to do what comes naturally, so must the model throw off all restraint. The formal pose offers nothing to get excited about. Gay abandonment is more inspiring than decorum. It’s the relaxed stretch that makes the picture and makes my day.

In today’s painting Ryta’s braids nicely went with the flow.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My Carnival Cow

Countless years ago, for the British Virgin Island Carnival, I made a cow. It was on the lines of the pantomime horse, with one person in front and one behind. The inventive streak was centered at the tail end. When the man in the rear pressed a plunger the tail lifted and my cow sprayed the onlookers. A full tube of yellow ochre water colour went towards that good cause.

My idea of carnival has matured since those days and I am now drawn towards the lovely rather than the lewd. If you consider that my love of the Rio Carnival contradicts that statement, so be it!

The first of today’s pictures is from this year’s Rio Carnival and the second from an island that will remain nameless. I leave you to judge which is the lovely and which is the lewd.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

From following to anticipating

Art historians often refer to an artist as being a follower. More rarely, they refer to an artist as anticipating a future trend. I began by following the impressionists but perhaps historians will judge my more recent work as anticipating what may come after my time.

As a viewer I want to be seduced, not mentally challenged. I want to love an artist’s work rather than find it interesting. When falling in love intelligence doesn’t come into it, but seduction certainly does.

I am determined to seduce by subtle suggestion rather than dreary definition or by taxing your brain. To that end, today’s image is a detail from my painting of the reclining torso.

Having said that, I am more likely to be remembered, as the poet Robert Service (Songs of a Sourdough, etc.) considered would be his fate:

                I fancy my grave digger griping,
                As he gives my last lodging a pat.
                He wrote Dan McGrew,
                ‘Twas the best he could do.
                So I’ll go to my maker with that.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Architects, engineers and poets

I quote from Sir Herbert Read on the subject of the Renaissance:

Besides admiring great artistic inspiration, Renaissance society also held the ideal of the “universal” or “many-sided” man – skilled in every art, well read in the classics and an able scientist, engineer, courtier, soldier, etc.

While I cannot claim to be courtier or soldier, I can add most other attributes. But in these days of specialization, my many sided endeavors are usually met with a rather derogatory: Jack of All Trades.

Without painters, sculptors and artisans, our architectural heritage would be sadly deficient. And without my engineering expertise many mechanical devices here in Dominica would be at a standstill. 

On a painterly note, my last session with Annabelle broke the mold of the last painting being the best.  I am equally pleased with the second painting shown below. Annabelle’s zany hair-do gave me an excuse for extra scribbles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


On the subject of improvisation, the painter Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) had this to say:

“…nature has been transformed by the richness of the artist’s instincts.  Improvisation plays an important part: the work of art is allowed, like a doodle, to follow its own evolution, subconsciously guided by the artist rather than consciously controlled.” 

How true that statement applies to freedom of water colour, and all the more so when the subject is the endless variations of the nude. When working from life, two forces come into play, the painter and the model, and they thrive off each other. Then the miracle of evolution happens, as it did in this afternoon’s session with Annabelle. 

Above is a 20” x 16” twenty minute painting from the session and below is a detail.