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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

A New Lease of Life

by rogerburnett , May 25, 2014—07:51 PM

Topics: Caribbean, exhibition, nude, painting, sculpture

Here is the poster for my forthcoming exhibition. It will comprise of forty recent paintings and twelve pieces of sculpture. But as you can see from the program, it will be more than just pictures on wall and sculptures on plinths. As the content is mainly my work with the nude the exhibition is sure to excite controversy. But that surely is what art is all about: to calm those who are disturbed and to disturb those who are calm. With less than five weeks to the opening I'm even busier than usual...… Continue reading… 0 comments

From one thing to another

by rogerburnett , May 11, 2014—08:10 PM

Topics: Caribbean, painting, sketches

When sketched this scene forty years ago Dominica's Roseau Bay Front was a sleepy sandy beach where fishermen sold their catch. That was yesterday. Just as Constable would be painting trucks rather than Haywains if he were to return to earth, my job as a painter is to record today. Here then is today's Bay Front with cruise ship, tour buses, vendors and tourists. How I miss yesterday! But in the words of Noel Coward, "The mood has gone to linger on would spoil it anyhow..… 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

Painterly passions

by rogerburnett , April 26, 2014—08:52 PM

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

My idea of an idyllic beach is a deserted beach. I'm told that, ever since being a child, I've always wanted the sands to myself. Dominica's popular Mero Beach is never deserted and it was especially crowded on Easter Monday. But diametrical opposites attract and it was the blaring music and multitude of revelers that aroused my painterly passion. The only quite tone was my five-year old autistic companion for the day. Like me, she silently looked on in wonder… 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

To my mind, water colours are best when thrown down in the heat of the moment. A painting that takes longer than thirty minutes is invariably a failure. Let me clarify that statement by saying that it has taken me seventy years to say what I have to say in less than thirty minutes. On occasions, I still make the mistake of laboring too long. But then, as I throw aside my failed painting, my model heaves a sigh of relief and stretches like she's never stretched before. It is then that I grab the nearest sheet of paper at yell: "Hold it there...please...just for a couple of minutes!" In today's painting you have forever that rare couple of minutes… 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

The painter and the poet

by rogerburnett , March 15, 2014—12:00 AM

Topics: Passion Love, life, nude, painting, poetry, sketches

If the requirement of an artist's model is an ability to sit still, Jessica would fail miserably. On the other hand, if a model's fundamental task is to inspire, she wins hands down I have found a way of keeping her almost still by encouraging her to indulge in her passion for writing poetry while I paint. Not only did this ploy enable today's painting, it also produced a poem, the title of which I have used for today's post. Although still a work in progress it begins: When the painter and poet combine, Each searching for that illusive line, Which only a true lover can define. 'tis then, they find their hearts entwine… 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

This is my most recent painting and you can learn more about it by accessing my latest blog entry, titled "He made a mess of dat". It represents one of those rare occasions when a water colour, through the very love of life, comes as close as possible to that miraculous accident. To give thanks, the proceeds of this sale will go towards helping a gifted five-year old little girl from my island of Dominica who suffers from autism. Hence, the bargain price of US$650 is there to bring forth another miracle and tempt a guardian angel to come to her rescue… Continue reading… 0 comments

He made a mess of that

by rogerburnett , February 6, 2014—12:00 AM

Topics: life, painting, sketches

Forty years ago, I sat sketching the fishermen off-loading their catch on the beach that bordered the Bay Front at Roseau, Dominica. Yesterday I sat sketching on the same spot. But forty years on, where there was once a beach, there is now a berth for cruise ships and the Bay Front is now a restricted boulevard for tourists. After pleading permission from the on-duty police patrolling the area, I was allowed to set up my sketching stool and easel. By turning my gaze towards the Old Market Square, and turning a blind eye to the knick-knacks that littered the stalls, I was able to rekindle the spark of old times. In addition to the sketch I was able to pick up one gem of a comment from an onlooker… Continue reading… 0 comments

Being cast away on a tropical island has its disadvantages. Other than local fare, the world of concerts, plays and exhibitions is thousands of miles away. It is difficult to keep pace with developments in the arts and until the advent of the internet, well-nigh impossible. These days, thanks to the world-wide-web, I can make the virtual best of it. When I sketched the Northern and English Ballet fifteen years ago, the inspirational Ballet Black didn't exist. My next visit to the UK will be timed to tie in with one of their performances. In similar vein, nowhere in my fifty-year old collection of LP's will you find recordings of the virtuoso jazz violinist Regina Carter. In those days, she didn't exist… 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

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


by rogerburnett , September 10, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting, sketches

When an artist reaches the age of seventy, it is as good a time as any for a retrospective exhibition of his work. In my case, the complication is one of location. The exhibition could be held here on Dominica, and it would be nice for you all to take a break and visit the Caribbean. But alas, I doubt that'??s a realistic proposition. In thinking about alternatives, my mind went back to the days when I sold my sketches on the pavements of France: the days when, "I had but a single shirt and not a single care"… Continue reading… 0 comments

Making art, like making love, is 99% passion. Tie it down to a set formula and you screw up. I was reminded of this today when reading an art syllabus for college students. Heavily couched in the language of academia, it read like a gobbledegook script for the comedian Professor Stanley Unwin. When it comes to talking gibberish, many art writers and elite art institutions can leave the rest standing. A recently launched magazine is focused towards "a converging nexus of artists" and offers "the articulation of a contemporary space, and of a place that lies within coordinates that have become scattered and nebulous, without bouderies". Eh? In simpler terms, here are two quotes that speak of the similarities between love and art… Continue reading… 2 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

Body and Soul

by rogerburnett , July 14, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting

I am forever searching for different ways of presenting my work in the belief that there has to be more to exhibiting paintings than static pictures on walls. One variation that I have been experimenting with is a fast-moving audio-visual presentation of images for the large screen. The theme is fifty paintings from my series "Daughter of the Caribbean Sun" fine tuned to a recording of "Duke Ellington's Body and Soul". A watercolour no larger than a page from a telephone directory takes on a completely new visual experience when projected to the size of a house wall. One image follows other within seconds. Sometimes the screen is filled with the fleeting fragment of a painting. One such fragment illustrates this entry… Continue reading… 0 comments

The creative potential of genius

by rogerburnett , June 14, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting, workshops

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." Pablo Picasso Research has shown that children are born with 98% the creative potential of genius. At eight years, their potential is 32% and by the age of thirteen, it is down to 10%. On average, an adult's creative potential is 2%. While I resist teaching children how to draw and paint, I welcome opportunities to introduce them to art. Over the years, I have occasionally shared my work with schoolchildren. I painted today's picture - with running commentary - before a class of primary school children in the UK seventeen years ago… Continue reading… 0 comments

Stretching a watercolour to its limits

by rogerburnett , June 9, 2013—09:22 AM

Topics: painting

As a watercolourist, I am most comfortable working to a paper size of 20ins x 16ins. Anything less feels restrictive, anything larger can be daunting. I might not always fill the sheet, but at least it gives me the freedom to manoeuvre. Without that freedom, I find myself constricting an arm or leg to fit the page. To work larger than 20 _ 16 means pulling out more stops than there are stops. The washes have to be thrown down at twice the speed and with an unnerving confidence. Moreover, there is the fear of spoiling a very expensive 100% all rag of watercolour board. When the page size is increased to 40ins x 30ins, I really have reached my limit. Recently a long admirer of my work requested the impossible. Well, the impossible took a little time, but here it is… 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

A final fling

by rogerburnett , May 17, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting

During the 1980's my studio was located on the shore of an idyllic cove in the British Virgin Islands. In those days my 16 ton gaff cutter shared the pristine anchorage with no more than a handful of visiting yachts and a couple of inter-island cargo boats. All too soon marinas, hotels and condominiums invaded my paradise and I moved on. However, before leaving I took out one of my largest sheets of watercolour paper and had a final fling. But even my farewell image was fated not to last. In moving back and forth between the Caribbean and England the painting was damaged beyond recall. For years, those vibrant brush strokes existed only in my memory. And mine is a selective memory… Continue reading… 0 comments

Out of the corner of my eye...

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

Topics: painting

Whether it is the fleeting movement of the model, or the transient scene that I glimpse out of the corner of my eye, it is the unexpected that makes my day. Twenty years ago, while painting on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, I interrupted an overly laboured seascape to scribble down this sketch. The fishermen landed and sold their catch in a matter of minutes and I had to catch my subject in the same moment of time. At the end of the day, I valued my sketch infinitely more than my "finished" painting. It is something that in a hundred years time I'd like to be remembered by. Fortunately, this sketch of fishermen landing their catch is permanently lodged in my brother's collection. If you go back in the archives of http://sculpturestudiodominica.blogspotContinue reading… 0 comments

The devil is in the detail

by rogerburnett , May 3, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: painting

If push comes to shove, I can paint every leaf on a tree. The job would be tedious for me and boring for you. Far better, that I throw down a thunderous wash of Prussian Green and let your mind do the rest. In other words, it is better to suggest, rather than to define detail. For the bold watercolourist, the best suggestive passages are often the happy accidents that are beyond the artist's control. Except, you might qualify that statement by saying: the better the artist, the more often the accidents happen in his or her favour. By suggesting rather than defining detail, we allow the public to enter into the creative process and interpret a picture as they may. As with poetry, they are free to read their own meaning between the lines… Continue reading… 0 comments