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, December 29, 2016

Draperie mouillée

Clinging drapery on the nude figure is the classical sculptor’s equivalent to the photographer’s wet tee shirt. It is a sensuous device that reveals rather than conceals.

The scantily clad figure is more sexually provocative than the nude. By partially concealing the model’s attributes by what the French call Draperie mouillée the nude form becomes all the more alluring.

The sculptor’s most difficult task is to create in clay or carve in stone the delicate trace of drapery. Edouard Lanteri, in his book Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure, devotes a lengthy chapter to the subject. It is a skill that takes a lifetime to learn, whereas the camera can capture the same in the split-second click of the shutter. However, as the second pictures proves, through the eye of a good photographer and with the aid of a good model, the end result can can be equally as beautiful. 

Venus Genetrix (2nd Century BC)

Anonymous (21st Century AD)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Merry Christmas from FedEx

For Christmas I ordered for my son a well-deserved computer. Both Amazon and the supplier came up trumps and had it moving in the time it takes to click a mouse. FedEx Express then had the best part of two weeks to get it from New York to my daughter’s forwarding agents in Miami for it to arrive in Dominica in time for Christmas.  

For days on end we were glued to the FedEx tracking page. Yes, it finally did arrive at Miami with two days to spare. Then FedEx, after only one attempt to deliver outside office hours, sent it straight back to the supplier!

We’ve made up this board game to keep us amused (sic). Please feel free to copy on send it on to all of your friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

180,000 words, 1,080 images and still counting

In other words, my sculpture studio diary pages, past and present, can claim to be one of the world’s largest resources of the working methods of a figurative painter and sculptor.

Decades before my diary went on-line it was jotted down, long-hand.  Here is an image and fragment of a page from twenty-five years ago.

The message still holds good:

…Always looking dead: a lack of colour, a lack of boldness, a timidity that wasn’t there at the mental onset, but crept through against all my efforts to control it. Must: paint freer, paint faster, paint more experimentally with colour. Must leave out…must see the fundamental mass and no more than suggest detail…

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dreaming while digging ditches

In the diary page I posted on December 3rd (Continuing the Tango) I stated that digging ditches would be less exhausting than working from the live model. To prove that I know what I’m talking about here is me, at first light this morning, digging ditches.

In my seventy-four years I’ve dug more ditches than most. On the left is me at the age of twelve, digging ditches. And on the right at the age of twenty-five digging ditches.Digging leaves my mind free to dream. In this instance, free to dream of my next piece of sculpture. Paintings posted on November 24th and December 3rd together with the thumbnail sketch below gives you an idea of what I have in mind.

Monday, December 12, 2016

From the actual to the virtual

Today’s photograph dates back to the time when my studio was based in the North of England and my work as a sculptor attracted major commissions. On Saturday afternoons I opened the studio doors and invited the public to view work in progress. Even in the depth of winter I had scores of visitors.

Those were the days before blogs and my daily diary pages were posted on the internet, the hard way, by my brother with pictures taken with an early Kodak digital camera. However, as computers had not yet reached every-man my visitors were real people with snow on their boots that came to me the hard way.

Now, from my studio in the Caribbean, I have hundreds of visitors. But alas, no one shakes my hand or pats me on the back as they are all virtual “stats”.

This painting dates from that period. It is of my native Yorkshire in the depths of winter.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Continuing the tango

Yesterday, I posted “one of today’s paintings”. But as usual, the one and a half hour afternoon session resulted in three large 16” x 20” water colours. Here are the other two.

 A session begins with five minutes of catching up on the week’s events. Then, in complete silence we get down to work.  After four years of working together, words are superfluous. There are no set poses. Annabelle is free to stretch and turn as she pleases. My task is to get the result of one stretch and turn down on paper before the next. It is not easy. Digging ditches would be less exhausting. And the same goes for the model. At the end of the session we are rarely sure of what we’ve accomplished. It is too soon to judge. In fact, followers of these diary pages are very likely able to form an opinion before we do.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

A naked girl and a loaf of bread

Working from the nude figure demands passion tempered with integrity and daring tempered with restraint.  Before beginning my day’s work, or when instructing life-class students, I repeat the biblical words of advice given by a past master of the nude figure.

Take the shoes from off thy feet, for the ground you are about to step upon is Holy Ground.

Kenneth Clark, in his definitive book on the nude, has this to say:

“…No doubt an artist can achieve a greater degree of detachment than the profane might suppose. But does this not involve a certain callosity or dimness of response? To scrutinize a naked girl as if she were a loaf of bread or a piece of rustic pottery, is surely to exclude one of the human emotions of which a work of art is composed…”

If awards were to be given for artists’ models, Annabelle, the subject of one of today’s paintings, would surely come away with gold. Just as it takes two to tango, it takes both artist and model working in absolute union to portray the sensuous beauty of the nude.