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“Why on Earth are you Painting Bees?”

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Saturday 15 October 2011

“Why on Earth are you Painting Bees?”

At a recent show an elegant man asked me this question.. not once but several times.

“Why on earth are you painting bees???”  He peered closely at a couple of paintings, shook his head and repeated his question.  “I can’t believe you are doing this?.. I mean, bees? Why? They must take you a long time? “

 “Yes they do” I reply

“Do you make a living at it?”

 “Well…” and I am reluctant to say this ….. “No”

“So you are like, some kind of bee philanthropist then..”

I am wondering if this was a kind way of saying “You are some kind of idiot..?”.. I am also wondering if I should launch into my full “Save the Bees” spiel…or just take this on the chin as a very valid observation.  After all “a bee philanthropist” has a nice ring to it and this man is not going to be swayed by anything I say, although he has had a couple of drinks so is actually swaying a little already.

While I am considering my reply an even more drunk man stumbles in from the street. I had spotted him outside. He had done a comic book double-take on seeing the poster at the doorway, theatrically scanned the dark interior with a hand shading his eyes and then thrown himself into the small crowd, demanding to speak to the artist.  He has seen better days, this man. His white hair is dishevelled and his teeth are yellow and gappy but his great big florid face is smiling. He must have been handsome once I thought. He has a cleanish yellow cardigan casually knotted round his shoulders which, from a distance, makes him look almost smart.

But my heart sinks a bit as someone points me out. He gets right up close to me, as drunks tend to do, and, just an inch from my face, shouts loudly and enthusiastically,
“Did you paint  these?… wonderful… I love bees. We need bees, they are so important…thank you,  well done .. lovely work.. if I had some money I´d buy them all.”

“Bless him”… I think. Sometimes, just sometimes “in vino veritas”!


So I guess that’s why I paint the bees. They are “so important” and I want people to know more about them and hold them in greater affection, appreciate their role in our lives and be thankful that we have them and learn to help them.  The trouble with blogs is that a present preoccupation might well have had its genesis many months ago and be lost in archive posts.. so for new readers or new visitors:

I paint bees because 2 years ago I found Dad’s old beehives behind the garage which sparked some lovely with beekeeper Joe’s help I painted a honey bee and put it on the blog; See Number Two Bee back in 2009.


From that came a 16 bee commission for Deborah (whose name in Hebrew means “bee”). The research was illuminating and inspiring.

See all about the bees and my research here: Deborah's Bees 

From there the idea for a UK show arose and “BUZZ” A Celebration of British Wild Bees” came about.. Firstly in London in 2010 and then this year in some other wonderful venues.


and now “BUZZ” and I  travel when we can and spread the Wild Bee Word to I have to say a mostly very appreciative and interested public.. and they are not all drunk :)

People are fascinated and want to know more so I spend my spare time researching and reading and soon there will be a book  “Wild bees for Gardeners”… It’s so easy to help them and so rewarding to be the helper.

“Why on earth are you painting bees?” he asked. I surely should have replied, “For the earth’s sake!

Bee philanthropist signing off….


Blogger Jill said...

By the sounds of it he was the 'silly old b*****'. Keep up the good(and beautiful) work.

15 October 2011 at 14:28  
Blogger Dani said...

Hear! Hear! - Definitely "for the earth's sake". I too have done a few blog postings on bees - they are critical to the survival of EVERYTHING on this planet :)

If you'd like to read more, do a search on my blog, using the word... "Bees" (of course) :)

15 October 2011 at 19:39  
Blogger Helen/patientgardener said...

I think Bee philanthropist is a lovely compliment.
I love your bee pictures, there are lots of floral paintings but few of insects. They only seem to appear as an aside to the flowers

15 October 2011 at 20:04  
Blogger Diana Studer said...

'There will be apples' somewhen around there was when I found your blog. Our recent visit to the Tankwa Karoo, where people had complained about bees - had me prejudiced in favour of the bees. Who turned out to be peacefully nesting in the mud walls. And looking for water ...

15 October 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

Wonderful story! The truth comes to us in many guises, eh?

Keep on painting bees - and keep getting the word out. Why, even Dr. Who got into "the bees are disappearing" - that just goes to show that Britain is on top of this. Now, if only we could get Americans interested in native bees...

16 October 2011 at 01:21  
Anonymous Emily said...

I love that you paint the bees. The point of you painting the bees is that it makes you and other people happy.

16 October 2011 at 09:23  
Blogger Joy said...

I have huge admiration for bees, and have been responsible for many public activities promoting the need to value these amazing little creatures. It's wonderful to read your blog and discover even more as I follow your discoveries. I've encouraged Gardens Illustrated to keep on eye on you and your activities, and hope that some time soon the rest of the world will be exposed to your skills and knowledge!

18 October 2011 at 08:16  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

Just a big Thank You to you all for your votes of confidence and for all your kind emails too.. I will carry on as much as I can. Partly what keeps me going is the new and fascinating disoveries I make as I go along and the fact that bee loving people do seem to be...on the whole... very nice!

19 October 2011 at 07:16  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

Why on earth are you painting bees? Because you do it brilliantly!!! Keep painting them. They are beautiful. It's just too bad he couldn't see that. But maybe, just maybe you got him thinking, and his horizons might have been stretched a tiny little bit. Thank goodness for the enthusiastic drunk bloke!

19 October 2011 at 20:28  
Blogger Elva Paulson said...

Keep painting bees, they are awesome .... as was Fabre's work. Our earth is in dire need of people who focus on the little things.

11 November 2011 at 01:54  
Blogger sharp green pencil said...

A belated than you to you both. I am packing!.... again.. I think you are so right Elva about the little things in life. Its sometimes so easy to overlook their importance! Good luck with the bee mimic!
Gabrielle the drunk was very funny! and thank you for your vote of confidence!

17 November 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wonderful post! And beautiful art. I'm sure you have heard of It is a wonderful documentary on the honey bees. So nice to find a fellow bee lover!

23 February 2012 at 19:49  

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