Woodland

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Vincent Van Gogh was the first artist  I made an emotional connection with, in my teens. When I was in my early twenties I read his Letters and realised that he was a well read, thoughful artist far from the popular notion of the mad artist! I never tried to copy his style but this drawing,  which I must have done over twenty years ago, shows some influence in the mark-making. If you haven’t read the diaries I highly recommend them. There’s an edited version produced by Fontana, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, Ed by Mark Roskill. They are among the most moving testament of any artist I’ve read about.

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Chiyono and the bottomless bucket

Another Buddhist story I especially like.

JustAlchemy

 “If you are as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, you still will not escape slander! Get thee to a nunnery, go!” Around 1600, by way of William Shakespeare’s pen, that was Hamlet’s advice to Ophelia. A continent away in Japan, and 300 years earlier in 1290, Chiyono found herself facing similar options. So, Chiyono set off to the nunnery, to the Zen temple in Hiromi where she was accepted to work as a servant.  Chiyono journeyed to the temple (and agreed to work there as a servant if that was the only way in) because she wanted to attain enlightenment (for the new agers or feminists among you, think empowerment).  For years – years and years even – Chiyono worked faithfully, diligently moping and cleaning, chopping wood and carrying water for the nuns at the temple. And through all those years her desire to attain enlightenment never wavered.

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Red Kite and landscape

This is a painting I did on cardboard, using acrylic, some years ago. It is quite small, less than 12inch across. Looking at it now I’m surprised I chose black for the red kite! I don’t want to read too much into it but it was painted as an expressionistic non-naturalistic landscape, so perhaps the archetype of the Shadow is part of the symbolism.

The reason I’m posting some of my art work is that I have a pile of stuff gathering dust so I took photos of the best of the bunch and will post them occasionally on this blog. I no longer paint and thought up until now that was a part of my past; I would no longer pick up a brush. However, never say never, as they say! (The Blucher drawing was done this year but that’s a pencil drawing not a painting.)

 

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Darwin’s eye

I wouldn’t usually have a note which is longer than the poem! However, I think it is important to know what Darwin actually said about this. Creationists in their propaganda often select the first part of this quote to back up their anti-science views. Please read the poem before reading the note.

 

 

human eye

 

Darwin’s Eye

 

grass   fly   worm

ubiquitous life

here   now     this is it

Darwin’s eye told us how

 

that miraculous lens

letting in light

 

 

 

 

Note

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.

Charles Darwin

George Stephenson’s Blucher

Here’s the front cover of the booklet published to celebrate George Stephenson’s locomotive Blucher, which hauled coals to the staithes on the river Tyne. Blucher was built in 1814 and made Stephenson’s name. Along with his son Robert he developed the steam locomotive and the first public railway – the Stockton and Darlington railway -was built in 1825. The Robert Stephenson & Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne was the world’s first locomotive builder.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a drawing I did for the booklet. Thomas Bewick was a Northumbrian wood engraver who printed books of British fauna. I wanted to symbolise the remorseless eclipse of the agrarian society by the Industrial Revolution. The fox weaving in and out of the tunnel is based on a drawing of Bewick’s.

 

 

5 Ways to Make Your 80 Years Count

Of Curious Minds

Average life expectancy in the United States is close to 80 years, 78.74 to be precise.[1] Most of us don’t quite achieve octogenarian status. Life expectancy has seen a boost in the past century but regardless of how you look at it, we’re working with a relatively short period of time here. It will be interesting to see where life expectancy is in another 100 years, which would put me at 125. Slim chance unless I stumble across that Tuck Everlasting spring. What is important is that with this brief moment, we enjoy our lives, take advantage of our opportunities, and lead a life we find happiness in.

Progression of Life

In the grand scheme of things 80 years is the blink of an eye. To put it in perspective, imagine, as author Bill Bryson so eloquently explains, “The 4.5 billion odd years of Earth’s history compressed into a normal earthly day…Humans…

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