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by rogerburnett , June 5, 2014—08:44 PM

Topics: Caribbean, Passion Love, bathing, life, models, nude, painting, sketches

Today's painting dates from earlier in the year: a languid afternoon and a painting of Jessica sleeping. If only we could return for a while to those halcyon days of painting and bathing. But with an exhibition looming ahead there is no longer time. Our days are spent frantically framing and sending out invitations for the opening. A dear friend, who over the years has fought against every vicissitude that a small tropical island can possibly throw at her, once told me: that if things can go wrong, they will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment. My digital camera finally gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow, I will spend my last cent on buying a new one… Continue reading… 0 comments

Titian painted his "Venus of Urbino" in 1538 and I painted my "Venus of Dominica" the day before yesterday. There have been many changes in the course of five hundred years but the beauty of the nude remains. Out of all the possible ways of depicting the female nude, the reclining nude is my favorite. And the same goes for my models, for what better way is there for day-dreaming through a sultry afternoon… Continue reading… 0 comments

As a painter I have spent a lifetime trying to capture colour. In particular, I have endeavored to define the colours that are to be found in the skin tones of my models. My struggles with paint are equaled with my struggles in verse. If you dip back into the archives of my diary pages to August 11th 2011, you will find my poem "The Colour Black". I wrote the poem in homage to Denise, my wife and model. It contains the verse: From the dark areola of her breast, Brown madder and yellow ochre merge. While sienna reds and blues subdued In deep purple shadows converge. More recently, a poem dedicated to Jessica, my current model, begins: In mellow tones my muse awakes, With subtle shades of amber glow..… Continue reading… 0 comments

At the time when Columbus discovered these islands, it was rumored that there was a river, spring or fountain where the waters had such miraculous curative powers that any person who bathed in them would be blessed with everlasting youth. Jessica, my model and assistant, claims that the river that flows around the boundary of our land has these magical properties. Hence she has named it, "The Fountain of Youth". At the end of each working day, we put the waters to the test and bathe. This ritual serves not only as our Elixir of Life but it gives me practice in sketching the fleeting figure. These sketches are my most recent catch of bathing figures… Continue reading… 0 comments

"I can only work from a model. The sight of human forms feeds and comforts me." Auguste Rodin. I share Rodin's basic need. Without a model my mind and paper is blank. With the model at hand, colours fall on the page with a life of their own. Wherever the model leads, I follow. Today's painting came about from my model's request for something to read while I paint. The book incidentally, is Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo… Continue reading… 0 comments

The Agony and the Ecstasy

by rogerburnett , February 20, 2014—12:00 AM

Topics: Caribbean, Passion Love, life, models, nude, painting

I have stolen the title for today's post from Irvin Stone's 1962 biographic novel on the life of Michelangelo. I look forward, in the next world, to sharing a glass of wine with Michelangelo, and a host of other artists, who have lived and painted with a passion. I can feel their presence as I struggle with a new collection of figurative watercolour paintings. Giving birth to a painting, involves an agonizing struggle against the odds. At best, a watercolour is an accident waiting to happen. Add to that, the difficulties of working from life; for only rarely can an artist find a muse and model that is able to inspire beyond the dreary norm… Continue reading… 0 comments

By some strange quirk in the makeup of artists, and contrary to expectations, creativity does not fare well in the comfort zone. If given luxury and financial security we procrastinate: put every obstacle in our way and we produce our best work. Thus, my present creative zeal owes its origin to the trials and tribulations that are doing their best to thwart me. The New Year heralded the breakdown of every device we possess. But despite no electricity supply (the final straw) and three weeks of tropical downpours, the creative urge lives on with vengeance. Today's picture shows work in progress on the torso of my life-size bathing figure… Continue reading… 0 comments

In labour

by rogerburnett , December 29, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: Passion Love, bathing, life, maquette, models, sculpture

My diary entries for August 2nd (A haunting vision from long ago) and August 11th (Oh what a pity) tell about the conception of the life-size figure that is presently my work in progress. As in real life, conception is pleasant and painless, whereas giving birth can be agonizing. Although delivering the final bronze cast can drag on for many years, the completion of the work in clay represents the true birth. As you can see in today's picture, after a score of sessions with my model and many sleepless nights, the figure is beginning to take shape… Continue reading… 0 comments

Work in progress, Part 2

by rogerburnett , December 21, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: Passion Love, life, models, sculpture

Today's picture shows the progress we've made on the portrait bust over the last couple of weeks. Once again I stress "we", for without a model there can be no portrait. My model solved my dilemma with her straightened hair by arriving one day wearing a traditional Creole head-tie. The madras "headkerchief" can be tied so that the corners make one, two three or four points. The number of points carry a message to would be suitors. One point means, my heart is free. Two points, my heart is engaged but you can take a chance. Three points, my heart is already taken. Four points, I have a place for whoever desires… Continue reading… 0 comments


by rogerburnett , December 15, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: models, sculpture

Between sessions, my most recent model is studying Business Management. Last week, as part of her course work, she had to make a presentation on the subject of teamwork. For her topic, she cited the artist and model as one of her examples. Her choice speaks volumes about her understanding of the crucial role of the model. Furthermore, it set me thinking about a host of others who have contributed their skills to the sculptor's work. Not least on the list are those master craftsmen who for centuries have made the tools for the job. This link will give you glimpse of what's involved. Then comes the moulders, who job is to take the initial waste-mould and then the intricate piece-mould… Continue reading… 0 comments

Work in progress

by rogerburnett , December 8, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: life, models, sculpture

I hate the finality of finish but favor work in progress. The portrait bust shown in today's picture was started just over a week ago. As a work in progress, it will continue to evolve over the next couple of weeks. The day will then arrive when the end result has to be cast, once and for all time. I found my model, not in some halcyon Athenian bower, but selling mangoes by the road side. Had I have grabbed her there and then, she'd have come with her hair plaited in cane-rows. Alas, by the time I arranged for her to sit for me she had straightened out her God-given hair… Continue reading… 0 comments

When I am finally called to embellish the gates of heaven with angels, kindly remember to chip on my grave stone: "He died from too much living". In the hereafter, rather than resting in peace, I hope to be up to as many tricks as I have been in this world. One of my daughters once screamed at me to, "Get a life!" Well, if I haven't had a life, I don't know who has. Set against your average eighteen year old, I'm living life to the hilt. It is therefore refreshing to occasionally meet an eighteen year old who is likewise bubbling with life like crazy. Such was my good fortune when I was recently booked to give a talk to students at the Dominica State College. Regardless of the arrangements made beforehand, there was no one to meet me or set up the auditorium… Continue reading… 1 comment

The miraculous thing about miracles

by rogerburnett , October 19, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: life, models, painting, sketches

G. K. Chesterton said, "The miraculous thing about miracles is that they do sometimes happen". If my struggles as an artist were to be put on a graph, the resulting line would show a succession of peaks and troughs linked with dead-level plateaus. Only rarely am I able to get down on paper what I see in my mind's eye. Last week, you saw my first hesitant attempt to capture my latest model. Towards the end of a second session and after many false starts, the miracle happened! Sometimes, when I throw down washes in desperation, fate takes a hand. My muse awakens and with the final flick of a No 12 sable brush, my daring vision becomes reality… Continue reading… 1 comment

First impressions

by rogerburnett , October 12, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: life, models, sketches

The first session with a new model is thwarted with nervous tension for both artist and model. Arrangements are made and a mutually convenient time is agreed upon. I set out my materials and anxiously watch the hands on the clock, having stressed the importance of arriving on time. A couple of days ago the appointed time came and went but no sign of my model. Just when I was about to give up on her I picked up a frantic text message: "Sir, I'm lost!" I'm always losing things, but this is the first time I'??ve lost a model, or rather, that a model has lost me. As I was about to drive off in search (a difficult one to put to passers by, "Excuse me, have you by any chance seen an artist'??s model?") she showed up exhausted… Continue reading… 0 comments

When my sister-in-law was a medical student, my brother would help her memory retention for anatomy by singing, Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. I do a similar visual lesson for my life class students. To illustrate the importance of working from the nude, I begin with the model fully clothed. As such, everything below the neck and above the knee is guesswork. The all-important linkages to the torso are hidden from view. As the model removes her garments, the beautiful construction of the human form is realised. The spine traces an invaluable line from head to thighs, the navel can be seen as a central reference point and the breasts, no longer constricted, reveal their masterly rhythmic curvature… Continue reading… 0 comments

Painting the Nude

by rogerburnett , September 30, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: Passion Love, life, models, painting, sculpture, workshops

The ink is still wet on this poster. It announces my 10 day workshop on painting and sculpting the nude. The workshop runs from the 25th November to the 4th December. In addition to learning about the techniques that I have acquired over a life-time of sketching, painting and sculpting the nude, participants take home a Roger Burnett painting (either portrait or, if brave enough, figure)of themselves. Follow the following links for further details: http://workingfromlife.blogspot 0 comments

A subject that I saw at a glance twenty-three years ago, has haunted my memory ever since. The place is a secluded riverside on the island of Grenada and the subject is women washing and bathing. I alluded to the scene in my book "Caribbean Sketches" and noted that I have learnt more about drawing the figure at the riverside than I have before the artificially posed model in a life class. To sketch the figure in real life, be it at the market place or the riverside, one has to take time to become familiar with the subject and accept ribald comments with good humour. The befriending stage can take days or weeks, but finally the subject relaxes and accepts the artist as part of the natural scheme of things… Continue reading… 0 comments

Mr Roger, don't you remember me!

by rogerburnett , July 21, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: models, painting, workshops

Thirty-five years ago, my studio was a shack alongside an idyllic cove in the British Virgin Islands. The children in nearest village knew that on their birthday I'd make them a present of their portrait. On my last visit to Tortola, I was accosted by a large lady with three children in tow. "Mr Roger, don't you remember me?". I had to confess that I could not for the moment place her. Then she reminded me, I had painted her portrait when she was seven! A couple of days ago I did a session for a children's summer programme that was the initiative of Dionne, an entrepreneurial young lady who, in addition to running children's workshops, works on the family farm and occasionally models for my paintings and sculptures… Continue reading… 0 comments

Practicing what I preach

by rogerburnett , May 31, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: models, painting

This week I have had to keep reminding myself to practice what I preach. It is easy to say forget about defining detail but difficult to loosen up, especially when there is the temptation to flatter the face and figure of a new model. Fortunately, my models soon enter into the lyrical scheme of things and, more often than not, loosen up before I do. Here are a sketch that came about towards the end of a first session, when freedom and a lyrical synergy between artist and model makes finish obsolete… Continue reading… 1 comment

The Colour Black

by rogerburnett , April 11, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: models, poetry

Here is a poem I wrote a couple of years in homage to Denise, my wife and model. THE COLOUR BLACK Black, At a cursory glance All shades are reduced to just that. But to the painter, poet and lover A hundred hues compete, With the jet of her cane-row hair And the pale saffron soles of her feet. **** Put aside your tubes of Scarlet Lake, And erase cloy similes of peach. Look instead at freshly tilled earth Or a wave-washed volcanic sand beach. **** Cinnamon bark and breadfruit leaf, Coffee beans in the warmth of the sun. These tints her whole being encapsulates, With nature's own colours, she's one. **** From the dark areola of her breast Brown madder and yellow ochre merge… Continue reading… 0 comments

Models in all shapes and sizes...

by rogerburnett , April 9, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: models

"Models of both sexes and all ages, shapes and sizes are urgently required for paintings and sculptures..." The above is from an advertisement that I run in my local on-line newspaper. Occasionally, I land a catch. More often, I see a potential model in passing. I then have to pluck up courage to ask...that is how I met my Grenadian born wife and model 22 years ago. She was ahead of me in a queue at the bank. From what I could see of her from behind, she had all the makings of an artist's model. When we got to the counter, the queue split: she went to one teller and I went to another. Alas, before I had finished changing my US$ to EC$ she had finished her business and left. However, this was a model too good to miss… Continue reading… 0 comments