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, May 26, 2016

Before it’s too late

Ten years ago I wrote: I now want to give my sculptures the freedom of my sketches.

Before it’s too late, I want to achieve that objective. With that in mind I have begun work on a life size torso in which the model has her hands clasped behind her back. I will resist defining goose-bumps and instead allow the clay to remain as a suggestive sketch.  

The picture below is of the belly down to the thighs. It was taken after the first modelling session and I am resisting refining it further. An earlier charcoal sketch of a similar pose gives you an idea of what I am after in the final form.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The difference being

For every nude that is depicted in paint there must be ten thousand photographed. Unless a new generation of artists take courage and work with the nude, beyond the life class, I fear that we will lose a thread that has been there throughout history.

I say this, not to demean the work of the fine art photographer but to draw attention to the differences between the two. Regardless of how the photographic image is manipulated it retains an inherent definitive resemblance and to use a darkroom term, it is “fixed”. In contrast, a painting can leave a lot to the imagination and invite the viewer to contribute to the creative process.

To illustrate my point I have delved back into my archives for this photograph that was posted on May 29th 2011 under the title “This way or that”.

Now compare the photograph with a recent painting posted on March 24th 2016 under the title “Improvisations”. The models are different (the photograph is of my wife Denise and the painting is of my model Annabelle) but the pose almost is the same!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

From one extreme to another

Just as Leonardo da Vinci was distracted from painting in his old age by being called upon for his engineering expertise, the greater part of my week has been spent as an engineer making improvements to the island’s sewage treatment plant.   

But this afternoon, with the help of my ever faithful model Annabelle, I went from one extreme to another and painted with a vengeance. As always, I leave space for you the viewer to contribute your share to the creative process. Annabelle’s judgement, sent by a text message on her way home, reads as follows:

While I slept you got three paintings…you are awesome!

Here is painting number three; a 20” x 16” water colour thrown down in the last fifteen minutes of the session.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Definition: Sprezzatura…A certain nonchalance that makes art appear to be without thought or effort.

E. H. Gombrich’s book Art & Illusion is a definitive study in the psychology of pictorial representation. The book has sat on my shelf for years but only recently have I given it the in-depth attention that it deserves. In particular the book delves into my obsession of suggestion rather than definition.

I quote:

It is an art in which the painter’s skill in suggesting must be matched by the public’s skill in taking hints. The literal-minded Philistine is excluded from this closed circle. He does not understand the magic of “sprezzatura” because he has not learned to use his own imagination to project. He lacks the appropriate mental set to recognize in the loose brushstrokes of a ‘careless work’ the images intended by the artist; least of all is he able to appreciate the secret skill and cunning which hide behind this lack of finish.

One of my paintings of Jessica from two years ago illustrates the point. It took seventy-three years of thought and effort for it to appear to be without thought or effort. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Faded photographs

Faded photographs…memories in bits and pieces

My brother has just posted a photograph of me on his blog, and wonders, by way of an open letter, if I remember it being taken.

Well, I sure do. It is of me painting fishing boats at Ballyhack on the Waterford Estuary in Southern Ireland. The year is 1972.  I still have the painting and here it is along with the photograph.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Once in a while

Search as I might, I seldom find a new talent in painting that really turns me on. But once in a while I find a refreshingly new talent in jazz. 

Just when I was thinking that there will never be another Sarah Vaughan, this young lady comes along.

Every one of Cecile McLorin Salvant’s recordings is a masterpiece. I selected this particular video track because I am attracted to work in progress; in this case a recording session. Credit is also due to her remarkable trio.

Incidentally, the song is from Finian's Rainbow and the lyrics are equally masterful.