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, November 24, 2016

Facial attraction

If asked, what is the first thing you look for in a model? Without hesitation I can answer that it is the face that first attracts. This holds true, even though in my paintings the face is secondary to the figure and sometimes it is not shown at all. Nevertheless, the spirit of my muse is personified in her fleeting glance. Here lie her subtle moods and changes.

In the first painting from today's session, the face is visible albeit partially cover by the model’s shoulder.

In the second foreshortened figure, the upturned face is nothing more than a suggestive brush stroke. Fleetingly though it may be, it nonetheless allows the dark red of the lips to give continuity, first to the breasts and then to the toes.

Incidentally, both were painted in little more than the time it took for my model to turn from one side to the other.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Life-classes with a difference

A woman's life class 1879

No, I’m not reverting back to life classes of the 19th century. As a matter of fact, I am not changing the format of my classes one bit. What I am trying to do is make it easier for those living overseas to attend.

Since I announced group vacation classes three years ago I’ve had hundreds of responses from all over the world. But getting one person to Dominica is difficult enough, to get a minimum of six together for the same date, is nigh impossible. The solution presented itself when one keen artist vowed to come anyhow. The session went so well that now offer tuition on a one to one basis.

Yes, my life classes are different. The warmth of the tropics means that we are free to work indoors or out. My models are not restricted to worn-out set poses and my way of working with a model is different to the usual life-class routine. Moreover, I do demonstrate rather than just critique.

You can find out more at: 

Friday, November 11, 2016

The encroaching jungle

Maintaining a house, studio, workshops and three acres of gardens in the tropics is a never ending battle. While the woodwork of doors and shutters deteriorates, lush vegetation grows with profusion. We are on the verge of the rain forest and behind our backs is the encroaching jungle. Yesterday I spent the morning clearing the path to the river. By the end of the month it will need clearing again.

Even the paved walled garden below my studio is no defense against the profusion of tropical growth. Throw an orange seed down today and it will attempt to be a tree by tomorrow.

What with one thing and another, it’s a wonder that I ever find time for painting!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Where the pleasant fountains lie

Kenneth Clark's definitive book, The Nude, originated as a series of lectures that he gave at Washington’s National Gallery of Art in 1953. It is a classic of its kind. I have read the book from cover to cover on at least three occasions over the last forty years and most recently, over the last two weeks.

Those forty years span my development as a painter and sculptor of the nude. As with poetry, I have interpreted the book’s contents differently from one period to the next. It is only on my most recent reading that I discovered a curious omission: breasts and buttocks are analyzed at length, but nowhere is there mention of pudendum, male or female.

The Guardian columnist, Syreeta McFadden came up against a similar problem when perusing the Greek and Roman galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 Alas, the origin of the word pudendum – a shameful thing - still holds true.

Fotunately, Gustave Courbet, Egon Schiele and Auguste Rodin had no qualms depicting it, and neither have I.

Today’s picture is a detail from my painting of the reclining torso.

Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie

William Shakespeare “Venus and Adonis”