Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blackberry jam!

Not everything worthwhile is to do with painting! Over the last few weeks I have been spending quite a lot of time gathering wild blackberries. Quite a lot has been made into jam, more has gone into the freezer and some I have bottled! Why is it that bought blackberries are large and beautiful looking but have almost no flavour, whilst wild blackberries are full of flavour? Well worth the trouble of gathering them, in spite of a few scratches and nettle stings!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dimensions of Thought

Some time ago, I noted the following:
  • That while space exists, the three dimensions of space (formulated as being at right-angles to each other) are a human invention for thinking about space.
Note: The defining characteristic of a dimension is that change in one dimension can take place without affecting measurements along any other dimension.
  • Time also exists. By considering that time forms a fourth dimension, acting isometrically (as if at right-angles) to space, a useful tool has been gained for thinking about time and relating it to space.
Based on this, I came up with an hypothesis:
  • Since thought also exists, considering that thought takes place within a further three dimensions, existing isometrically to time and physical space, would be a useful way of thinking about thought itself and relating it to time and space.
Testing the hypothesis:

For the proposed divisions of thought to be considered as representing  dimensions it has to be shown that movement or change within the proposed dimensions takes place in an equivalent manner to that in which movement and change takes place within time and space, i.e.:
  1. It has be shown that movement or change can take place within each of the proposed dimensions independently of change or movement within any other dimension.
  2. It has be be shown that movement or change in each of the proposed dimensions is quantifiable in some way, equivalent to the way that measurements of time and space can be made.
I believe that I have already shown, by the detailed reasoning given on my website, that these two tests are satisfied. However, I also suggested a third probability (which is more to do with the usefulness of dividing thought literally into dimensions), that if this thinking is valid then terms referring to them would already be in common use (in the same way that the terms height, width and depth are used by everyone, not just scientists and engineers, when talking about measurements in space). I believe that I have also done this, by linking the axes I termed Active to Receptive, Mental to Physical and Dominance (Potential to Realisation) to the ancient system of the Elements Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Spirit, which has similar attributes.

I produced two posters to summarise and illustrate my ideas. The versions on this blog are reduced in file size - full size versions are available on my website, copyright free for personal use.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

New painting!

"The Ruin on the Hill", June 2012.
Oils on canvas, 25cm x 31.5cm.

Just finished this a few days ago!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


"Waterfall”, June 2012.
Oils on canvas, 50 cm x 70 cm.

Just finished this last week. I used the Surrealist method of searching for a meaningful image within random paint marks on the canvas. For me, the painting represents my experiences of waterfalls seen and imagined over the years.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

“La grande patience II: celui qui voulait voir la mer” by Bernard Clavel

I have just finished reading “La grande patience II: celui qui voulait voir la mer” by Bernard Clavel. It is the first book in French which has kept me completely absorbed from beginning to end. It is set in the early days of World War 2 and it is written from the point of view of “la mère Dubois”. Her husband is a retired baker, both are getting old and neither has very good health. They are waiting for the return of their son Julien, who has just finished his baker’s apprenticeship. The war is very distant and the story concerns itself a great deal with the simple details of the parent’s lives. However, with the arrival of May 1940, the news becomes more frightening and the roads become crowded with refugees fleeing the advance of the German army. Finally, they persuade their son to join the exodus as he is nearing the age for military service and they fear what the Germans might do to young men. The rest of the story is then concerned with events whilst they await his return.

There is very little actual contact between the parents and the Germans who temporarily hold the town, prior to their withdrawal as the town is to be in the “free” zone of France. No fighting takes place in the town, merely some preparations in case of air raids. From an initial picture of the minutiae of life of a retired couple in a quiet town, the tension in the story builds from the news of the war, fears of air raids, contact with refugees passing through the town and doubts as to whether or not the son should join the evacuation. After Julien leaves, the story is concerned with the immediate struggle for survival during a brief period of occupation by the German army and then their fears for the safety of Julien until he finally returns – four days later than necessary because Julien decided to visit the nearby coast as he has never seen the sea!

For me, the fascination of the book lies in the detailed picture that it draws of civilian life during this period, the fears and hopes of ordinary people, caught up in events beyond their control. It has whetted my appetite for reading more by this author!

Monday, May 07, 2012

"Les Baigneuses" polished and finished!

I exposed the oak panel to ammonia fumes for over a week to darken the wood, then soaked it in linseed oil. Since the panel had been made from several pieces of wood clamped and glued together, there is some variation in tone. However, after a final treatment with a beeswax polish, I was pleased with the result.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

New website in English, mirroring my French website, L'Art et La Magie

In order to practise my use of French, I created a website, "L'Art et La Magie", using and revising material from my old site, "Tom Spencer's ArtMagic Website". However, I decided that I liked the layout of the new site, so I have now created a sister site for "L'Art and La Magie" in English, called (imaginatively), "Tom Spencer's ArtMagic"!

I will still be keeping my old site going, but the new site gives a clearer showcase for my artwork and also a better platform for exploring my ideas about the dimensions of the mind and the links to the old idea of the Elements, Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Spirit.

Friday, April 06, 2012

"Les Baigneuses", carving and smoothing completed!

I am happy with the way that this carving has developed so far. I intend to fume the oak, i.e., darken it by exposing it to ammonia (in the old days, woodcarvings would be hung in horse stables to produce this effect). I will then soak it in linseed oil and polish it when it ceases to absorb oil.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Forest Sunset"

"Forest Sunset", March 2012.
Oils on canvas, 60.5 cm x 45.5 cm.

Just finished this painting last week. Most of it is quite dark, giving it a feeling of strangeness and mystery.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Les Baigneuses"

My woodcarving is progressing well, the group of three figures to the right are now finished (apart from the final smoothing and polishing). The next stage is to finish the two figures to the left. I will then have to complete the background. Because I decided to isolate the figures first, there will be no features overlapping them.

I decided to go with the title in french, because that makes a stronger connection with the European tradition of "bathers" pictures. It is particularly the painting by Cézanne, « Les Grandes Baigneuses », that comes to my mind.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Progress report on my "Bathers" woodcarving

These are two of the five nude figures in this carving and the main part of the work on them is finished, apart from the final smoothing. I will have to complete the modelling of all the figures before I can finally work out all the details of the background.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

My latest Skyscape!

"Newtownards Road Skyscape", Jan. 2012.
Oils on canvas, 101.5 cm x 81 cm.

I finished this painting, the third in my series of "Skyscapes", last week. I see this view on my way back to my home in Bangor, from the road between Bangor and Newtownards. I intend to create at least one more in this series. As a painter, the wide-angle perspective of these views and the effect it creates for the viewer is what interests me most. The canvas forms a flat plane, but I treat it as if it was curving over me at the top.

Monday, February 06, 2012

My new Sculpture Studio

After I left my studio at Studio 23 in Dunmurry, I created a new studio space in a shed in Ballynahinch (where I stay during the week). I hoped to carry on painting there, but I found it unsatisfactory. For some reason, possibly the lack of company from other artists close by, I found it very difficult to settle down to paint there. So when an opportunity came to move into a studio in Market Square Lisburn, I jumped at it!

So far, I have been extremely happy with my studio in Lisburn but, for family reasons, recently I have been unable to be there as much as I would like. By way of compromise, I have revamped the studio in Ballynahinch for use as a sculpture studio. Perhaps because sculpture is a much more physical activity than painting, I find that I can work well on this. It helps that my time for working on art can be split evenly between the two studios! In fact, my sculptural work has been neglected in recent years, so this represents an important opportunity for me to develop this aspect of my art.
I particularly like wood carving, although it can take a long time to complete a piece. Some years ago, I sketched out the figures for a "Bathers" scene on an oak panel. I have decided that the time has come to complete this carving!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Windows and doors!

"Drumlin Skyscape", December 2011
Oils on canvas, 101.5cm x 81cm

I have always loved the rounded shapes of the local hills (drumlins), having grown up surrounded by them. In many ways, the landscape in the painting is very typical of County Down; the drumlin itself, the small fields, the rich greens. But in addition I wanted to create the feeling of the sky extending over the hill and above the viewer. Hence the title of "Drumlin Skyscape".

There are many reasons for creating paintings. But, for me, each one acts as a window and sometimes as a door. As a window, a painting allows the spectator to look inside the mind and imagination of the artist and, more importantly, if they can relate to it themselves then it allows them to look inside their own mind and memories. But sometimes a painting can also act as a door. By this I mean that a spectator can relate to the painting so intensely that it acts as a means of stepping through to another world of experience, leaving them emotionally in a different place to where they were before.