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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A lament to the British Virgin Islands

I have seen these islands destroyed twice in my life time. First, by the development that began in the late 1970’s; development that eventually overwhelmed the islander’s way of life and the local scene. And second, by Hurricane Irma. Palatial homes can be re-built but I can never again experience my first love.

I remember the Ridge Road when it was a grassy trail from end to end. In those days there were few cars and no buses. To get from East End to Road Town you hitched a ride on whatever came your way. I never locked a door and my boat shared the Maya Cove anchorage with no more than six others.

Perhaps from the mid 1970’s I sensed the inevitable, for it was then that I started gathering material for my book Virgin Island Sketches. My objective was to give the islanders confidence in their own identity and to encourage visitors to accept the islands in the way they found them.

Today's sketch is taken from my book.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Though grim as hell the worst is…

Though grim as hell the worst is,
Can you round it off with curses.

I offer the above lines by Robert Service to British Virgin Islanders to reinforce their resilience in the wake of Hurricane Irma. It was only yesterday that we learnt that all of our many family members are safe, albeit in unenviable circumstances.

During the anxious days of waiting for news I kept my mind occupied by preparing a batch of sugar cane for paper making. I had just poured the pulp into the vat when the good news came through. I celebrated with a rum and orange and added a generous tot of rum to the pulp. The resulting 80 proof limited edition sheets will be presented to family members that bravely fought through the storm – minus roof in one case.

Due to the alcoholic content children under the age of 18 will get half a sheet.

Today’s picture shows the paper in the making. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gone with the wind…well almost!

Over the last few days Hurricane Irma has brought home to me the vulnerability of a life’s work, at least in terms of paintings. Irma’s original trajectory was for directly in line for Dominica. 

The fact that it changed course for the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane is no consolation. Those islands were once my home and I have many family members there. The walls that surround them I built thirty years ago. The roof timbers are strapped down with rigging salvaged from a fifty foot racing yacht. The doors and shutters were made from the finest pitch pine planks. The house and studio survived Hurricane Hugo in the 1980’s - also a major 4/5 hurricane. Let’s hope they do the same again over the next 36 hours.

Dominica will likely miss all but the storms of Irma’s fringe. Today’s picture says it all.