Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Over the past few days I've half finished a picture... I say half finished because I was unhappy with the picture and have decided to stop half way. More about that later.

First, a video. Two days ago I went to Chester Zoo and took some films there with the aim of making a short music video, mainly to test out AVISynth, some free video software. Here is the result...

AVISynth uses a script language to edit and assemble videos. It only uses AVI files, so I used something called SUPER (very good software) to convert between formats. This script was quite simple but it already did some sophisticated things.

I'll describe it in detail!

1. startclip=assumefps(imagereader("start.jpg", end=300), 30000,1001)

That loads the start.jpg picture as a video of 300 frames. The two numbers at the end set the frame rate (speed) to the same as the aquarium video I took at the zoo (about 29.97 frames per second, the NTSC standard apparently).

2. endclip=assumefps(imagereader("end.jpg", end=300), 30000,1001)

That loads the end.jpg picture and does the same. Both of these are now videos as far as the program is concerned.

3. vidclip=ConvertToRGB24(killaudio(avisource("fish.avi")))

Line three loads the aquarium video, converts it to RGB24 format to make it the same as the pictures. It also kills (removes) the soundtrack.

4. part1=trim(dissolve(startclip, vidclip, 150), 0,4075)

This put together the start picture with the aquarium video, fading over 150 frames. The trim command cuts down the result to 4075 frames, which is around two minutes.

5. part2=dissolve(part1, endclip, 150)

That line takes the above video and puts the end clip at the end, fading again over 150 frames.

6. audio=wavsource("R1B-T04-MarkSheeky-Interference.wav")
7. audiodub(part2, audio)

Those lines load the audio and dub it to the video.

That's the full script.

In total that took about an hour, which included lots of reading the docs and fixing bugs!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Today I've been painting a picture called "Now I've Tasted Love There Is No Going Back To A Loveless Life" which is rather complicated and really quite amazing even to me. I'm painting it rather differently than normal, toying with the colours more, wise to my "chromosurrealism" rules; designed to use colour in a neurological way instead of a purely aesthetic way.

All is going well and the concerns of the weekend have been forgotten. I spent yesterday at the zoo and took some films in the butterfly house. I hope to edit together a short video for my tune "Flight Of A Moth". Not my first choice for music "single", but well the butterfly house suits a video perfectly! I'd like to do more music videos but it's a matter of planning and resources. At least now I know how to edit; using the free Avidemux software.

I've prepared for my exhibition in October at The Cubby Hole. Carol there is a wonderful matron for the arts. Her little craft shop has become a nice little hub in my life since discovering it and I enjoy every visit. I'll write to a few local papers and try to drum up some interest. The poster is shown.

Now I'll rest. Another full day tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Philosophy of Truth

Expressed in textual form. But first a picture:

That is part of my latest underpainting, which took just three days despite being nearly a metre square. This was down to the subject (it is not complex or demanding of accuracy) and the excellent surface, which took more than three days alone to prepare and was at least four times as expensive as the M.D.F. panels I normally paint on. However, for large paintings my sturdy acrylic canvas is brilliant.

I've had a nervous few days, darting from task to task but not getting much done. Losing focus on any one thing while trying to do too many things, and feeling time pressure and feelings of loss of control, which once rationalised have disappeared. I'm more in control than most people. The painting year is nearly at and end. No paintings require deadlines, aside from distant competitions, and I don't even have to be up for work (although I consider it my duty to humanity as an artist to wake early and produce something). Now I'll dive into heavy philosophy and type my philosophy on truth. I'm aware that most people find it a bit boring or hard work, so I won't be offended if you look away now, but it is worth blogging in case someone searches for such a thing in future.

So, how can you know if something is true?

Imagine there was only one person in the universe, a mad man who thought the sky was green. He says "The sky is green". Is this true? The answer is no. It does has sort of truth though, correspondence with ones beliefs, a personal truth.

That situation is a trick because we the observer also had a presence in the universe. We see it not from the mad man's perspective but our own. We know that the sky is blue, so we can say that the statement is false. What if we also believed that the sky was green? Would the statement then be true?

Imagine that the world was filled with people who all believed the sky was green. One says "The sky is green". Is this true? Again no. Again this has a sort of truth, correspondence with the common consensus, but the statement is not true. Ask yourself; Before Copernicus did the Sun really orbit the Earth just because the authorities insisted it did?

Real truth is when a statement equates with "reality", yet defining reality is a problem for philosophers because it is built from our perceptions, and so truth appears to be an equation between the beliefs about our thoughts and the beliefs about our perceptions. If both sides of the equation involve our beliefs then anything could be called true. What is the solution?

The solution is to assign a mind to the universe. Something is true when our beliefs are the same as the beliefs of the universe. The universe consists of everything that is not us. Like any being, we must assume that the universe has perceptions and beliefs, the perceptions of all things.

In the first example there is only one man in the universe, a mad man who thought the sky to be green. We the observer are also present, but now the universe is present too. There are three beings. The universe believes the sky to be blue so when we believe it, it is true. When the mad man believes it, it is false.

Perfect establishment of the truth is a matter of communication with the universe to establish its beliefs then, and to establish truth we must communicate with the universe as we do with other people to establish their beliefs.

What then is belief? Belief is nothing more than the dictionary definition. The belief of the universe can be considered truth at all times, but the beliefs and thoughts and opinions of the universe must be established by enquiry and reason, in the same way as the beliefs and thoughts and opinions of any person are established. We can never observe from anyone's perspective except our own, and we can never see the universe from its perspective, so knowledge of truth is difficult or impossible, but it can be established to a greater or lesser degree by enquiry.

Let us consider another experiment. Let us assume that the world consists of people without eyes. They all think the sky is green. The people develop a machine to detect the colour of the sky, but it is flawed and speaks that the sky is green. One inhabitant declares "The sky is green". Is this true? No, because the universe believes the sky to be blue. The machine was flawed, so the enquiry into the beliefs of the universe was flawed.

Considering the question "Are green hats more pretty than orange hats?" creates an interesting dilemma. The statement is true if the universe agrees. Prettiness might be an opinion of people, even all people might agree that a tree is more pretty than a building, but would that be true? It depends if the universe agrees, and working out if and how the universe agrees is a matter of enquiry. Prettiness is not a simple argument. There are pros a cons for each object regarding prettiness, and the universe might have mixed opinions on the subject. It is the matter for the enquirer to try to establish the beliefs and opinions of the universe. However, it is quite possible that the universe has no opinion on a particular subject, and it's also possible that the universe does not know the answer to a particular question. Why?

The universe holding total knowledge would only be possible if the universe was infinite in size and so infinite in possibility, but as the universe is defined as that which is not us, then the universe must exclude at least us, and so is not infinite. As such the universe cannot know everything. In particular the universe cannot fully know us.

By the same degree we cannot fully know it. If we knew the universe completely then truth would be when our beliefs equated to our beliefs, a nonsense. If the universe was infinite all things would be true. So then, it essential that enquiry by us is imperfect, and essential that the knowledge of the universe is finite and limited.

Things are additionally complicated by the fact that we are in the universe and part of it, however, essentially some part of our minds must be independent of it because of the arguments outlined above. This begs the question; what is mind?

Mind in this context is a container of knowledge. This means that mind is divisible. A rock contains knowledge of (at least) its shape, cut in half a becomes two rocks each with knowledge. The rock cannot fully know itself. Any mind cannot fully know itself or its parts. Divisible to to smallest particle, an object cannot know itself or be fully knowable, because if so truth could not exist.

The barrier between our complex minds and external reality is essentially present for logic to exist and function.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Abandoning Someone...

First day of underpainting a new picture today. Here's a small preview. The painting was planned and prepared last year.

It's different for me in that it uses canvas when I usually use smooth M.D.F. panels. Canvas is much more forgiving than a panel so going is faster. With canvas what you paint tends to stay where you first put it, so if you put the right colour in the right place first time everything becomes easy.

I made good progress on this large painting and hope to finish underpainting by next Wednesday. I also wrote a short essay on philosophical truth after reading about the problems philosophers have had with this seemingly simple subject. How do you know if something is true? Because it matches your perceptions of reality? When your beliefs about truth match your beliefs about your perceptions of truth? More deep thinking later.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Once Upon A Time...

I've had a busy and productive day today, designing the posters and invites for my next solo exhibition in Crewe in October. My music CDs will be on sale there this time, and to celebrate this I've decided to release a new compilation CD that features tracks from the past eight years and eleven albums. The CD will be called "Once upon a time...", so I also took time today to design the cover (which didn't take long, I pasted together a few source images a from a trip to Shrewsbury park last week, then added a figure made of clouds from my painting The Lightning Of Creation).

I'll also add some new and/or unreleased music to the album, and have this evening been finalising a fast paced action tune called Lightning Run, which I began on the 22nd of January!

In other music news, my recent rather ambient and experimental album Pi is now on iTunes. I'm hoping to write lots of new music before the year is out.

For the time being I'll continue preparation for the Cubby Hole exhibition, then painting plans for a new picture, The Final Escape of the Psychological Cosmonaut.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I've had a busy few days but not working for a change, instead trips here and there. I've managed some partial plans for a new painting but it's very complicated and full of things. The fundamental idea is simple, but it might take some time to work out. A female model would really help, at least for the face.

Anyway, that aside, my nightly poems have continued. I did wonder whether it was worth it; making myself write even when I didn't want to, yet when I do I can surprise myself. This poem is a recent one, made up really quickly, and inspired by a walk in the deserted wilderness near Machynlleth. I pictured myself there, and an old white cottage, a farmhouse building in it's final years, and the poem just appeared. The subject matter doesn't apply to me at all really, but I imagined it so, and it seemed very true at the time.

Hill Fog

I'm walking in the fog,
wet mist,
grey, in the trees.
This place I've seen so many times,
from my childhood.
This carved ex is mine.
This rock feels like mine,
this step,
and old ivy vine.

The whitewash house is closed,
locked and neat.
The last latch left,
the last smile,
and the new sign set.
For Sale, in the wind
that smells of peat,
and I pretend
it's not an end.

Here's to you dad, now with mum!
Now I'm the old man not the son.
My house is yours, as my wife cleans through,
and I shout at her sometimes, like you used to.
My street is warm in my children's mind,
and their feelings will one day mirror mine,
as I touch this ex for one last time,
and not feel sad,
as I say goodbye dad.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Gethsemane so far...

The underpainting is complete. I made good speed with this but had a few worries and concerns which engaged me in sadness, so to solve the problem I listed each concern with solutions.

The main thing I was unhappy with was a slightly "furry" surface, which resulted from slightly sanding the wood before starting. That was because I had to switch to using the back of the panel at the last moment. I could have chosen a new piece, but I'd had enough of preparation and wanted to get started. As such, the surface had an unusual quality, like delicate felt. This was better than a hard knobbly surface (which I've also encountered). It's not too serious, and something I now know how to avoid in future.

Secondly I was unhappy with my brushes. I get through them so quickly. Here I dropped one into a puddle of paint when practically new, right on the ferrule where the bristles go in! I knew that would kill the point, and it did. Even so, I can easily get through two new brushes per painting, perhaps one per day, yet I try to use the worn out ones, scraping and mopping with their ragged curled ends, often to the detriment of the painting quality. One solution here is to buy and set aside new brushes for each major work. It would be rather expensive though.

Some good things happened too, mainly that I managed to make good speed on the painting without losing quality. I'm reasonably happy with this painting so far (a fragment is shown, I'll refrain from showing the whole picture until it's finished).

I'd like to repaint it, as usual, and if I did it would be better because of the lessons learned, but this time I think I'll add a second layer in semi-opaque paint to ease it towards greatness. Some of the values are wrong compared to the study (this has happened before, I must pay attention to global values). Some of the gilded areas have problems too, and the picture is crying out for red, however amongst the cacophony of problems and imperfections there is some good.