The flight of the bumblebee

Since the 1930’s there has been an apocryphal tale that scientists once proved that bumblebees can’t fly. Sadly this turns out not to be true (e.g. https://www.snopes.com/science/bumblebees.asp ). Whilst a 1 gram dead bumblebee with 1 square centimetre of wing surface cannot glide (though it can still sting you), fortunately for the living bumblebee, it flaps its wings and can curve them into all sorts of interesting shapes creating enough lift for it to take off vertically, hover and fly backwards as well as forwards!

And yes they can sting, although only if very unhappy indeed. I once ran across some clover in open toed sandals, flipped a bumblebee into the air and watched it fall back to earth precisely between my toes as I took the next step. Unsurprisingly the bee was extremely upset at this treatment and stung me between the toes. I have no idea how it escaped as I spent the next 30 seconds frantically hopping around the adjacent carpark educating a small audience of local children in the fluent use of English swear words. By the time I could see again I had removed my sandal and the bumblebee had vanished. Unlike honey bees, which usually lose their sting if they use it, this bumblebee departed with its sting intact.

Among the 400+ pictures of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) that I have taken at the Arthur Rank Hospice, Cambridge, some show their wings and their flight to advantage. I have turned many of these into paintings but if I include these in this post it will end up being over-long and I’ll never get it finished, so photos it is. All the images except one are mine, and that exception came from the Wikimedia commons. They were taken with my trusty old Canon digital slr and a Canon 200mm telephoto lens.

Alert and ready to take off at a moment’s notice. This bee has its wings in the resting but alert position. If you look carefully you can see that there are actually two pairs of wings, the rear ones far smaller than the front ones. They are hinged together where they touch each other. In this front view you can also see the pair of large shiny compound eyes on the head, between which are three smaller simple eyes – bumblebees have 5 eyes!

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Wings in the resting position. In order to minimise the risk of damaging the wings, the bumblebee often parks them on top pf each other on its back while it is feeding. The wings are located in a ball and socket joint at the front end and attached to large flight muscles inside the thorax.

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This is a carder bee, a small brown bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum), included because this particular image shows the ball and socket joint of the wings very clearly.

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Taking off. The wings are flapping so fast that they are blurred in this image, taken just as the bumblebee launched itself into the air.

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In flight. This was originally taken by steve-h and obtained from the Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bombus_terrestris_in_flight) having originated from flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sbh/5825911131/sizes/l). In level flight with wings horizontal in mid flap. Notice how its legs trail behind to minimise air resistance. I did get a picture a bit like this but it was with my i-phone so the wings are an almost invisible blur!

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Preparing to land. The wings are vertical as the bee flaps back and forward to slow itself down. Its legs are lowered ready to grab hold of the verbena flower (Verbena bonariensis) on which it is about to land.

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Landing. Not the best photo I’ve ever taken as the bee is at the bottom left corner of the image and is a bit blurred, but interesting because you can see that the angle of the front wings (brown fuzz) and rear wings (white fuzz) is quite different. The rear wings are hinged and are acting like the flaps on a landing aircraft.

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Well, feeling as I do today, that’s the best I can do. I will keep this blog going as long as I can but the posts are likely to be more irregular as it depends entirely on my health, which is pretty variable and will not improve as time goes by.

Fortunately, as John’s gospel puts it ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’ so my illness does not frighten me – I know God loves me and will look after me no matter how difficult things get.

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I’m back!

As you might have guessed from my last post things have been a bit difficult for the last few months. However I am hoping they have turned a corner and so I will finally get to post my bumblebee pictures. That’s the plan at any rate.

We now have a ramp up to the front door and a shower downstairs, so my lovely wife is busy making things happen. Yesterday was her graduation ceremony for her Licensed Lay Minister course. I am very proud of what she has achieved under very difficult circumstances.

Here’s a bumblebee photo to keep you going while I finish the actual post…

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Grace, peace and love to you.

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Progress report…

I am working on a bumblebee post but progress is slow as I have an infection and am on the third different lot of antibiotics, so I feel pretty rotten. The photos and paintings are done, it is ‘just’ a case of having the energy to do it… Here is an airbrush painting of a bumblebee to whet your appetite.

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Inclusive autistic traits

I have been wondering how to capture ‘what it is like to be autistic’ for those of you who are not and I think that maybe this list is the best thing I have come across to do that. I celebrate my autism, it made me who I am and gave me the toolkit to be a really effective scientist and educator.

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Problems

Autism is big and messy and confusing, and no-one really understands it. It’s difficult to make a good summary and description of autistic traits, because generally no-one can agree on what autism actually is. But even taking that into account, I’ve never read a satisfactory article or leaflet summarising and describing autistic traits.  Every description I’ve ever read suffered from at least one of these problems:

  • Wrongly weighted. So many descriptions of autism written by neurotypical people focus completely on social traits. Often autism is described as an entirely social thing, and any other differences are considered incidental if they’re mentioned at all.
  • Vague. The “triad of impairments” is the worst offender here. It divides social traits arbitrarily into “interaction”, “communication”, and “imagination”, but there is absolutely no clear distinction between those categories. They’re meaningless and useless divisions that don’t remotely simplify the description, and so they serve no useful purpose…

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Hospice for sick humans and well bees

The Arthur Rank Hospice near Cambridge, UK is an amazing place. They moved quite recently from a site in the city which they had outgrown to a new site just over 1km from Addenbrookes hospital, to the southeast of the city in Limekiln Road (a name redolent of a bygone era). The new building has a 24 bed conventional residential end-of-life palliative care wing, but does and offers so much more. It is part funded by the NHS and charitable donations and fund-raising activities.

It supports an expanding work in hospice care at home for terminally ill patients who prefer to spend their last days in familiar circumstances. It offers several weeks of day therapy for people like me who are seriously ill with a life-limiting condition and need intensive input from across a range of healthcare disciplines to improve the quality of their life in the outside world. It also provide bereavement support.

I am, I think, about half way through my day therapy. So far I have either seen or am booked to see nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, doctors, complementary therapists, healthcare assistants and volunteers as well as the Chaplain. They have all be wonderfully caring and professionally extremely

I have done creative activities including flower arranging (which I have always loved doing) and photography and shown them my computer-based painting methods. I missed out of wicker-work because I was seeing the specialist physiotherapy team about the swelling in my legs (lymphedema). I have attended a useful seminar on breathlessness management. I have had my hands massaged with frankincense oil which incredibly relaxing and also amazing as I normally can’t bear being touched by strangers (autism strikes again). I have drunk a lot of tea and caused general amusement by the frequency of my visits to the toilet. I have probably done far more than that but my memory has turned into what my grandma called a ‘forgetory’.

My flower arrangement (she said ‘we are going to do a symmetrical arrangement’ but I always was an awkward individual and prefer this kind of asymmetry!)

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I used really neat passive / active exercise machine which reduces lymphedema and helps maintain muscle strength for as long as possible. How we are going to get the funding for one of these at home I’m not quite sure, but we are really going to throw everything into trying to get one because it helps so much (like £4000 quid’s worth!). We think we might endeavour to turn the garage into a therapy room if we can find a way to do it… Not me by the way – I am bald and wrinkly.

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Keith, the chaplain, provides spiritual support for those of all faiths and none and is a jolly nice chap! There is a purpose built sanctuary where you can go and think and pray, and where various faith-related meetings occur. Outside it is a lovely water feature which I have so far failed to photograph and which has miraculously escaped the attentions of the internet!

One of the things that’s nicest about a very nice site is the garden area. The planting is imaginative and superb with sweeping beds of agapanthus outside the excellent bistro (open to visitors and very good value for money) as well as lots of grasses and bee and butterfly plants.

The rest of this post consists of paintings of bumblebees on flowers photographed with my iphone on-site. I crop the photos to give a nice composition and improve the ratio of bee to photograph (since in most of them the bee would be but a dot on the horizon!), and then paint until I like what I have got. Almost all of these are painted using the new Corel Paint 2018 which my better half very kindly let me buy despite the fact we cannot afford it since the local authority committed us to £20000 worth of work on the house on the basis that they would fund half of it and then came up with £183… Not precisely half but…

Bumble bee on Echinacea

 

Bumble bees on verbena

 

Bumble bee on Salvia

 

Actually one of these (on verbena) is a Shutterstock image I bought as I’d got 2 of my 5 that I paid for left and I liked the picture (though it turned out to be difficult to paint because of the out of focus background).

To bring this post to a close, Jesus said “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” and told us to care for the sick. I reckon that’s a pretty good description of what they do there. It is a great place.

Grace, Peace and Love to you all…

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Of death and elephants and mourning

I’ve always found death perplexing. Yeah, I know, as a Christian I’m supposed to have a pretty relaxed attitude to death (at least my own and that of other Christians anyhow), and in that sense I do. It is as a one-time biologist and biochemist that I struggle. I don’t get how a bag of biochemicals is at one moment gaining organisation and information (i.e. alive) and the next moment the very same bag of the very same biochemicals is losing organisation and information and can never be revived (i.e. dead).

As a Christian philosopher (of sorts) I also struggle with the eternal fate in the context of a loving God, of the billions of people, alive and dead, who either never heard the gospel, or heard it and turned their back on it.

Elephants, I’m glad to say, do not have the same struggles. In some way they ‘get’ death and just remember the once living creature as they consider its remains. Philosophers might argue whether they ‘mourn’ their dead as humans do, but that is to miss the point as I hope this post and its paintings will show.

In a later post I’d like to think about sentience and consciousness in the context of elephants, but for the moment it actually doesn’t matter because this post is mainly about behaviour and doesn’t aim to delve into their cognitive processes during that behaviour (largely because we know so little about cognition in elephants (or indeed humans)) that it is impossible to do so.

So, how do elephants responds when one of their number dies? They are animals with a massive brain and complex social organisation and it is in that context that we see the behaviour illustrated in the paintings that follow. In each case I will tell a bit of the backstory in so far as it is known and credit the many kind people who have given me permission to paint base on their copyrighted photographs.

The first pictures show a distraught group pf Elephants around a recently dead female. Their behaviour was so odd it drew the attention of the photographer. In the midday sun, every mammal seeks shelter and shade, yet here was a group of elephants standing isolated in the middle of a clearing, at the hottest part of the day. They are going through the first part of their post-death ritual, distressed and trying to get the moribund animal to stand up and walk again. Thanks to Clive Millar for permission to paint from one of his photos (https://africageographic.com/blog/life-and-death-in-chobe/).

 

 

The next set of images show features common to the behaviour of elephants under such conditions. The now dead female had fallen behind the group and they returned and chased off the hyenas still skulking nearby in the long grass. In the first image one adult extends her trunk towards the carcass, scenting the changing scent of dead animal. In the second, the distraught half grown offspring of the deceased cow trumpets a despairing farewell (he writes, failing in his attempt to avoid anthropomorphic interpretations of their behaviour). The group had a real struggle persuading this little one to leave, and it was the last to go, again, very typical behaviour. Thanks to Andy and Sarah Skinner for permission to paint from a couple of their images (https://www.facebook.com/imagesofwildlife/ ).

 

 

The next group of elephants are much later in their post death ritual. They have come across the long dead remains of one of their group and tenderly pick over the bones, sniffing and pondering. After long minutes, the group lumber off quietly, the mood, in human terms, appearing sombre. Do they know this was a elephant? Well, they don’t do the same thing with the bones of other mammals, so I guess so. Thanks to Professor Karen McComb for permission to paint from one of her photos ( http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/23224).

 

 

So they have some understanding of death then, but what follows is the true, verifiable and verified account of the same behaviours by two groups of elephants after the death of a man. Now this one really makes you think…

I’m going to give a brief summary account here and a recommendation at the end if you want to know more.

Lawrence Anthony was an ecologist who earned his reputation as an ‘elephant whisperer’ helping a series of troublemaker elephants come to live peacefully in the private nature reserve ‘Thula Thula’ owned and run by him and Francoise, his wife. In the end the elephants stopped trying to break out of the reserve into territory where they would be shot by poachers or the authorities, and formed themselves into two stable herds living across the reserve, 12 hours away from the main house where Lawrence and Francoise and their guests lived.

On March 2nd 2012, Lawrence died suddenly. His funeral was held a few days later. The two herds of elephants marched across the reserve for the first time in 18 months and arrived in time to stand and watch the interment from a distance, afterwards spending two days carrying out their typical post-death ritual where he was buried. This raises so many questions, to none of which I have an answer. Thanks to Françoise Malby-Anthony for permission to paint from some of the images at the Thula Thula website (https://thulathula.com/history/ ). Good account of the history and funeral at http://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/home-page-news-and-views/wild-elephants-mourn-death-of-famed-elephant-whisperer.aspx?

 

 

So there you are. Do elephants mourn? I believe that the behaviour they show after the death of one of their number counts as mourning, a view validated, in my opinion, by their behaviour after Lawrence Anthony’s death. I still struggle with death, but the uncomplicated grief of bereaved elephants has helped me immeasurably. Of one thing I’m sure, and that is that I shall be in heaven after my death, and I hope that I will see all of you there.

The parable of the vineyard (Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 16, verses 1-16) shows that God intends the same reward of heaven whether you live your life as  Christian, or become a believer on your deathbed. All you have to do is accept that Christ died to bridge the gulf between you and your messy life and perfect Father God. Even if you are not now a Christian, I hope that one day you may become one.

And why do I so strongly believe that the Gospels are a true account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Partly it is because the disciples were so ordinary, so ready to run away at the cross and admit to doing so in their writings. Partly it is because Jesus was definitively dead, stone cold, stiff and in the tomb, and then he wasn’t, he was alive, seen by hundreds; touched by some; walking, talking, eating and drinking with others – alive! And partly it is because there are so many very, very old copies of the gospels – so many contemporary writings are known from one or two medieval copies, yet there are over 5000 ancient Greek copies of the gospels. All of that makes, for me, the incredible, credible, and that’s why I believe…

Grace, Peace and Love to you all.

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How to live with a dragon in your head…

My late grandpa had one, courtesy, I suspect, of a vile combination of genetics and the impact of the first world war. He had ‘shell shock’, for which read PTSD, the result of surviving several years in the trenches as a gunner. He only talked about it to me once but mentioned, almost jokingly, that he only survived because the gun under which he had been buried by a shell blast, was dug up by his colleagues as they did not want to lose it… He was gassed, shot and saw the death of all his close friends, and saw the lines of people sawn in half by the product of his gun. He came back with white hair and shell shock.

He could be thoughtful, helpful, organised and affectionate, but not often and not for very long at a time. Mostly he was just morose, withdrawn, but when the dragon awoke he could turn in a flash into a raging temper. One day when I was about six, my persistent grand prix car noise imitations got too much for him and he swept up all my favourite toy cars and threw them into the dustbin just before the bin-men came.

Poor chap had to be locked in his bedroom at nights during the difficult times so he did not go walkabout in the night and he used to scream in his sleep. It must have been hell. My grandmother (and therefore my late father) thought he was weak, but he wasn’t. He was one of the strongest men I have ever known. I wish I could tell him how much I admire him, but I found out far to late for that.

Despite everything, he worked as a waterman on the River Thames from the day he was demobbed after the war until his retirement at 65, he bought up his son, my father, kept his family together, bought, with my grandma, a succession of very nice houses and was generally what society would consider successful. Despite everything, he was not an alcoholic, though he had every reason to become one, and his only vice was nicotine from the vile smelling pipe invariably clenched between his teeth. It soothed the dragon I think.

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My dad had one, courtesy, I suspect, of the same genetics coupled with a childhood dominated by grandpa’s PTSD. He regarded all mental health issues as ‘personal weakness’ – his words not mine. He suffered from migraines but refused to accept that migraine existed – too close to mental health issues and personal weakness. Had a psychiatrist ever seen him in full rage mode, or been driven by him, he might well have diagnosed borderline personality disorder. He worked with lots of psychologists about whom he tended to speak disparagingly at home whilst secretly and grudgingly respecting them and even becoming close friends with some… Some of them must have had their suspicions, but his iron will, brilliance, charisma and organisational flair made him an exceptionally good manager and so if they did, they kept their mouths firmly shut (not least because he was their boss rather than the reverse).

He could be thoughtful, helpful, interesting, amusing, organised and affectionate. Often, especially when tired, he was morose, withdrawn and grumbly but when the dragon awoke he could turn in a flash into a raging temper. Sound familiar? He learned well from a master, my grandpa. He could be completely impossible. Once when my better half was navigating across France he said, ‘I don’t want to go through Vic Fezansac as it is market day.’ There were no turnings between our current location and VF. He shouted louder and louder and drove faster and faster as it was suggested that there was no alternative other than to turn around. We went through VF at a horrendous pace, children and chickens leaping in all directions. His behaviour was rude and dangerous – the dragon was well and truly in control.

On one notable occasion, as I wrote recently elsewhere, my dad drove round and round the same roundabout in Birmingham UK until I gave the right answer to a simple algebraic problem. He didn’t understand why I didn’t understand. For me, if x=3 then it can’t possibly equal 17 in the next problem… I never did get the right answer and we left the roundabout with him screaming the refrain of my childhood ‘I don’t understand how someone so intelligent can be so stupid!’ I never really got over that, not even when Cambridge University was my employer and the authors of the standard Advanced level Biology texts used to ring me up to explain things to them… When he died three weeks after retiring, I had just begun to make friends with him. I loved him then, always have, always will, but for prolonged periods of my childhood I also hated him, hated the dragon. I was heartbroken when he died and am in tears writing this, 35 years later. I loved him and I had just wanted the opportunity to learn to like him and it was whisked away. I was very, very angry.

Despite everything, he worked as a scientist, lecturer, professor and Head of a major organisation, from the day he left medical school until his retirement at 50, he bought up three children, including me, kept his family together, bought, with my mother, a succession of very nice and increasingly large and numerous houses and was generally what society would consider extremely successful. Despite everything, he was not an alcoholic, though he had every reason to become one, and his only vice was nicotine from the vile smelling pipe or home-made cigar invariably clenched between his teeth. He only gave it up after a health fright, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) not long before his untimely death from a leptospirosis infection. It soothed the dragon I think.

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Of course I too live with the dragon inside my head. I have the same genetic predisposition. I have PTSD courtesy of a violent predatory paedophile who abused me while I was living and holidaying with my grandma – in those days children did not know about such people and I had not the words to tell anyone what was happening to me. That combined with the impact of my dad’s dragon also changed my personality – anyone who has been driven by me for any period of time will know that I am a risk-taker, and of course, there’s the dragon. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago with Borderline Personality Disorder as a result and can’t really escape from the accuracy of any description of the symptoms – like many others with BPD I have had it under control a lot of the time – except behind the wheel.

As I wrote recently elsewhere, I drove for 40 years. I thought I was brilliant at it and frightened everyone else nearby for about the first 20 years. Then I realised that I was an idiot when behind the wheel and became reasonably safe at least 50% of the time. I loved the thrill of risk taking inherent in every journey. In our old Volvo I celebrated 100,000 miles at 100 mph and 120,000 at 120mph (on private roads I’d like to be able to say) and if it could have gone any faster would doubtless have continued the same way until it expired at 265,000 miles. It was the fastest standard 940SE in the world because I thrashed the nuts off it for all but the first 20,000 miles of its life. That it never exploded or broke down is a testament to Volvo’s incredible engineering. I once took a very experienced racing driver for a ride in my sports car (Reliant Scimitar SE5a for the aficionados among you) and scared the living daylights out of him.

I had a repeated car failure in Angers, France on holiday one year and this ended with two fabulous illustrations of BPD behaviour. The 9th time the car, a French Citroen, broke down on the same roundabout I leapt out of the car and ran around it screaming abuse at it and kicking it. The French thought it hilarious. Eventually I persuaded it to run, but only at full throttle. With a howl of delight I leapt into the car and drove the next 400 miles at terminal velocity, causing consternation in a variety of French villages and extracting more road holding from it than seemed possible at each set of twists and turns. How we survived I shall never know. Ask my better half about it if you don’t believe me as she was sat in stunned silence through most of the journey interspersed by occasional sharp intakes of breath.

Borderline Personality Disorder does not necessarily go too well with driving, but astonishingly I had only one crash (rear-ending a car which stopped while I was thinking about something else) after 6 months of driving and then, no bumps, no tickets (not even parking tickets) – none at all – absolutely miraculous and completely undeserved. I don’t drive now, but that is my choice, as I can’t remember where I am going for more that 5 seconds, nor concentrate properly for more than 5 minutes. Even I recognise that is not really a recipe for safe driving.

So, for the first 55 years of my life I had a genetic/PTSD and BPD variant of the dragon. Then I got whatever rare and horrible motor neuron disease it is that I have. It has affected my brain and reduced the effectiveness of many of the filters that are required to allow human beings to exist together in society and families. The language as I have been (badly) typing this has been excruciating – I appear to know words I didn’t know I knew and certainly never used before this illness took hold. The first draft used some fruity language but hopefully I removed it all. Wonder if you can spot where it was? And the leash on the dragon is no longer under a reasonably secure grip. So my poor family suffer as I misunderstand things and instead of rationally asking for clarification, the dragon roars. I’m profoundly sorry.

Despite everything, I worked as a scientist, teacher, Head of Science and Subject officer for the Cambridge University International exam board from the day I left university until my unexpected retirement at 56 (I think), I bought up three children, kept my family together, bought, with my wonderful wife, a small number of very nice and increasingly large houses and was generally what society would consider very successful. Despite everything, I am not an alcoholic, though I had every reason to become one, and my only vice is nicotine that used to come from vile smelling roll-ups and latterly from those vape sticks. Luckily I have found a brand of vape juice that is incredibly cheap because they omit the nice tasting smelly stuff that used to trigger my better half’s asthma.

I quote Mark Twain, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” How true – it is easy to give up, near impossible to stay given up. Regrettably, my large intestine is now virtually paralysed. It is full of nicotinergic nerve endings and nicotine is the only thing keeping it going. Last time I tried to stop my nicotine intake I ended up in A and E (ED/ER) with an impaction which blocked my bladder; in agony with over a litre of urine backed up in the system. So once again I can’t do without it. Bother.

And it soothes the dragon I think.

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So how do you live with a dragon inside your head? With difficulty, but successfully, as three generations of my family can testify…

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The paintings are all tacked together and recoloured and modified from public domain images and then painted using a favourite dark retro grunge method in Dynamic painter, except the last which is a much modified impressionistic repaint of a public domain ‘photographic style’ painting.

I think a quote from the book of Job in the old testament says how it sometimes feels, “Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household.” Job 16:7 but then Jesus never said it would be easy! He says in Matthew 7:13-14 ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ and Matthew 8:16 ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’

And at least I am confident that the dragon in my head will not separate me from God’s love, as Paul writes in Romans 8:35, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?’ Absolutely not! Paul carries on in verse 37 ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Luckily, my son describes his childhood as ‘idyllic’ and says the worst thing in it was when the BBC showed a film with no adverts so he could go for a comfort break, so finally, after three generations there is a male offspring without a dragon in his head – hurrah!

 

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Silverstone paintings…

Yeah, I know, it is supposed to be mourning elephants, but the complexities of working out who gave me permission to paint what are as the saying goes ‘doing my head in’. If I can ever have a clear day with a clear head, I’ll sort out the mess and it will get published. From now on I’m going to stick to my own photos I think, so I don’t need to worry about all that permissions malarkey.

So, here goes:

First of all a couple of historic Renaults, on the left the 1979 ground breaking turbo car driven by Arnoux and on the right the later 81 to 83 car driven by Prost. Both these were painted using a new technique in Corel Paint 2017, with detail oils brushes to give a ‘painted’ look. I’ve more or less decided there’s no point in turning a photo into a fuzzy photo; rather all my future work will concentrate on turning a photo into something I’d have been proud to have painted with a brush or oil pastels. Click on the pic to make it bigger. The big previews 1024 pixels across, original painting 12800 pixels across!

Now for a couple of Ferraris painted the same way. For info on drivers, see previous post. Both of these are seen through the safety fence, but most of today’s paintings derive from the relatively few telephoto images I took of the cars entering Abbey corner, over the top of the safety fence. If I’d known how well they were going to work I’d have taken more!

Next, the last pair painted this way. Another Ferrari and a Mclaren, both entering Abbey corner.

I have also been working on developing the oil pastel technique in CP 2017 and here are a couple of examples of that output. The first is Arnoux’s Renault again and the second a differently composed Force India. I quite like both compositions, so there are some of each, some with the car in the upper third and some in the lower third of the painting. I almost always like to have some space in front of the car for it to move into as it makes a more plausible picture.

The next post will feature some of the cars painted very differently using Dynamic Auto Painter, but right now I am knackered and the ache in my kidneys tells me it is time for a spot of self-catheterisation – an inelegant but life-saving procedure I now have to do twice a day (blush)…

As Jesus put it, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”. I thank God every day for the medics without whom there would be no pictures, no blog, no me.

Grace, Peace and Love to you all.

 

 

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A day at the (motor) races

Our dear daughterling Hannah took Sue and I to the Friday practice for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, it having been unanimously decided that I would not cope with the crowd on race day (good decision, 70,000 was … interesting … 190,000 would have been overpowering).

So today’s offering is unexpected and is of photos not paintings for a change. Pictures including me are taken by Sue, Hannah or random stranger! I am to blame for any pictures of cars, these being of somewhat variable quality partly owing to the intervention of the safety fencing. If anyone wants a lot of nicely focussed images of safety fencing and empty track I have some beauts!

You have to be well prepared for the task of watching motor racing…

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We had a great viewing position in one of the areas reserved for disabled viewers and their carers – Silverstone have given us really brilliant facilities and some truly breathtakingly good  viewing positions. The first picture shows us about to leave, knackered and slightly sunburnt but thoroughly satisfied after a memorable day out – thanks for a brilliant birthday pressie Hannah! The other is self explanatory.

At the last Grand Prix I attended, René Arnoux débuted a revolutionary turbo Renault. It was here again today, still driven by Arnoux, to celebrate 40 years of Renault involvement in F1! I’m not at all sure how I feel about that! The other car the is in some of the images is a later, very successful model, driven then (1981-83) and now by Alain Prost.

The final pair of Renault images show the contemporary car driven either by Nico Hülkenberg [27] or Jolyon Palmer [30].

Anyway now we have a gaggle of Ferraris, cars with 5 on are driven by Sebastian Vettel, those with 7 by team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. It is pure chance that more of these worked than for any of the other marques.

There are two rather dubious images of the two Mercedes, one of Lewis Hamilton [44] the other Valtteri Bottas [77]. Most of my shots of these were either focussed on the safety fence or had the car neatly bisected by a great big steel stanchion…

Next, two Force Indias (Sergio Pérez [11] or Esteban Ocon [31] but if you can read or even find the numbers you are doing better than me!)

Two fairly awful photos of Williams cars follow next (Felipe Massa [19] or Lance Stroll [18]). The new Haas team proved similarly elusive (Romain Grosjean [8] and Kevin Magnussen [20] and so I’ve lumped all these together.

For various reasons there are again only two images of Red Bull cars (Daniel Ricciardo [3] or Max Verstappen [33] and none at all of their sister team Toro Rosso (Carlos Sainz Jr. and  Daniil Kvyat).

The penultimate pair of car photos show the Maclarens of the very experienced Fernando Alonso [14] and very inexperienced Stoffel Vandoorne [2]. We briefly followed a very fancy Maclaren road car on the way into the circuit, but then there was a blare of noise and it vanished at warp speed…

Finally, and not before time, one Sauber (either Marcus Ericsson [9] or Pascal Wehrlein [94])and a trio of cars looking like a really exciting moment in a race, but actually lining up to do practice starts!

I will finish by quoting the great, much mourned, Ayrton Senna. He was often accused of believing that God would protect him in any situation and being unnecessarily aggressive as a result. His rebuttal is interesting “There is a great difference between faith and the fear of death or getting hurt. Life is something God gives us and in many cases it depends on us to use our common sense to demonstrate to Him that we understand that health and life are a very important gift that He gives us. It is our responsibility to preserve such an important gift.”

Grace, Peace and Love to all

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Shortest blog article in history

Dear all, elephant mourning nearly complete, but have uti, feel unprintable and have slept 20 hours out of the last 24. Andrew Sharpe, the nice man who makes nice photos of Ely cathedral has given me permission to paint from any of his images!

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