Tom is a good friend that I met through work. He is originally from Belgium but has been living in Portugal for a few years now. We had lunch together almost every day and he is not only a good laugh but also a very sensitive person, who you can talk to and expect good sound advice from. Not surprising that he is also an artist on his spare time, really. Recently Tom had his website set up and organized, so I thought I’d share it with the rest of the world.
When did you start making art and why?
I have been drawing and expressing my creativity since I was able to hold a pencil upright. My parents tried stimulating this by enlisting me in the local art academy, but this was not stimulating enough for me and I got bored quite fast. I did make some drawings here and there along the line, especially during high school I was the one who made the caricatures of the teachers, to much the liking of my fellow students and the actual teacher(s).
I also made a comic of my initial trip to Portugal when I was in the 12th grade; my class was in an exchange project with several Portuguese schools, this is actually where I met the woman of my dreams with whom I have been with ever since.
I actually have only been creating paintings since I watched the Jackson Pollock movie starring Ed Harris, the concentration while he is painting is just inspirational. After this I did a lot of research, visited museums and by doing so discovered a lot of other artists, such as Mondrian, Sean Scully, and also rekindled my love for art movements such as Die Brucke and De Stijl.
Did you have any formal training in art? Do you think one needs formal training to be an artist?
I wasted two years in Royal Art Academies where they really did not teach me anything, if not, that the way they judge art is very subjective; basically ‘I do not like it, so it is not art’.
I truly believe that you cannot make an artist, just like you cannot make a musician. Art and music is something you feel, you are guided by, you breathe…it is not something you can write in a book or teach for that matter.
What is your main source of inspiration?
Music is my true inspiration. I often have a song in my head when I paint, I do not need to listen to it while painting as it is just playing in my head. I am very much into Anathema right now and their new album ‘weather systems’, which is an amazing album, and a lot of my recent work is reflecting that mood.
I know that Jackson Pollock is one of your main influences, what other artists have also made an impression on you?
There are too many influences to mention, although I usually am influenced by a painting rather than an artist. A lot of artists make one or a couple of works that I find interesting; I usually do not like or feel some interest for all their work.
When do you prefer to create art? Is there any specific frame of mind you need to be in and what is it?
There is no specific moment for me to create or be creative, although I sometimes leave a painting to the side for a long period of time, before I pick it back up and finish it a bit more. The again, since a work of art is never really finished, it is sometimes very complicated for me to let go of a painting and leave it as a completed work of art, if ever this does exist.
Do you have any plans for the future regarding your art – any exhibitions, for example?
The plans are there, but there is no rush at this stage. The necessary contacts will be made soon enough in order to run an exhibition and/or work closely with an art gallery. Since my focus is mainly the northern European market, I still need some time to establish those contacts and representatives.
What is your favourite media and what would you like to try and explore that you haven’t done so yet?
I mainly work with with acrylic paint, due to the fact that it is easy to use as it dissolves in water. However, I would one day like to use oil paints, but for this I need a proper atelier.
I also would like to make a painting with bigger dimensions, e.g. 5000 x 5000 mm, as I feel that it would leave a lot of room for me to express my creativity. Obviously I also would need a bigger atelier for this.
How long have you been living in Portugal and what do you enjoy mostly about living there?
I have been living in Portugal since 2003. First via trial and error some years before, but finally settled in the summer of 2003. I love Sardinhas and the delicious red wines; I would say mainly food and drinks.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
I miss the snow and proper cold winters. I also miss riding a bike and the hundreds of different beers we have in Belgium.
Tell us something about you that no one else knows.
Even though I am a very impulsive person and often say out loud what should be better left to the confined boundaries of the mind, I am actually quite introvert and have a dark side which I have not often shared with a lot of people. I do reflect some of that darkness in my works.
What are your favourite ways of chilling out?
Music! It has been a way to keep me quiet since I was born and has influenced my life ever since. I love analysing songs, listen to the music and deciphering the lyrics. I used to play music myself and write lyrics as well; some titles of lyrics I wrote are actually titles I used for some of my works in the past.