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 memories..so 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….