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Roger Burnett

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Writing from life

by rogerburnett , August 25, 2014—12:00 AM

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

Just as I paint from life in order to capture the transient moments of life, I find that poetry is most effective when scribbled down in the heat of the moment. The following lines refer to an emotional reunion. They were text to me, rather than scribbled, by Jessica Bellevue, my model and poetic muse. With poetry, as with painting, the simpler and more immediate the statement, the more profound. Seriously I cried and well he held me, But d more I cried. Today's painting is from the series I made of Jessica deep in poetic composition… Continue reading… 1 comment

If only...

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

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

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

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

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

The mood lives on

by rogerburnett , January 22, 2014—08:52 PM

Topics: sketches

Twenty-two years ago, with my wife in the final months of our oldest daughter's pregnancy, I was trying to make ends meet on the pristine island of Bermuda. As there was little in the way of riotous squalor that I could get my teeth into, my watercolours became as orderly as the landscape. But within my portfolio for that period there can be found a note of rebellion. I clearly remember, as I threw down the thunderous washes in this painting, that my thoughts were of my beloved Caribbean. The mood lives on… 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

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

You can't beat an Old Master

by rogerburnett , September 18, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: life, sketches

Sandy Wilson's score for of "The Boy Friend", includes the following verse from "It's Never Too Late to Fall In Love": The modern artists of today May paint their picture faster, But when it comes to skill, I say You can't beat an Old Master. Actually, when it comes to speed, the Old Masters could give modern artists a run for their money, any day of the week. Eric Hebborn, master forger and author of "Drawn to Trouble" and "False Impressions", reveals how he divined the speed at which the Old Master draughtsmen worked. He then practised so that he could achieve the same seemingly unerring whip of the hand. It is that which makes true Old Masters so convincing. This brings me back to the benefit of working from life… Continue reading… 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

Backstage with Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec.

by rogerburnett , September 1, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: dance, life, sketches

Over the last forty-five years, at rehearsals, or during an actual performance, I have spent many hours sketching symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and dance companies from the wings of the stage. When doing so I can feel the spirits of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec looking over my shoulder and egging me on. A couple of weeks ago found me in the wings of the stage of Dominica's one and only theatre, sketching competitors at a showcase of talent titled, "Dominica Can Dance". Between getting tangled in microphone cables and dodging the ropes that raise the curtain, I had to work at lightening speed in semi darkness… Continue reading… 0 comments