Friday, 25 September 2009

Pretty little Bugses

First page: Done when I wasn't really sure what I wanted to focus on. I did these all in pencil first, then went over them in biro and watercolour later on, after painting the first thirteen bugs on the second page.

Second page: Bugs copied from Micheal Chinery's Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe.
Top row: Epilachna chrysomelina, Subcoccinella 24-punctata, Coccidula scutellata, Scymnus frontalis, Hippodamia 13-punctata, 7-Spot Ladybird, Eyed Ladybird.
Second row: Thea 22-punctata, Propylea 14-punctata, Wasp Beetle, Plagionotus arcuatus, Chlorophorus varius, Calosoma sycophanta, Common Swallotail.
Bottom row: Black-veined White [Aporia crataegi], Large Blue [Maculinae arion]. Large Blue larvae are pink to begin with, feeding on wild thyme flowers. They are then carried into certain ants nests, where they feed on antgrubs until they pupate.
Picture in the bottom left corner of page is of a hall with a ceiling decorated by beetle shells.

Third page: Oleander Hawkmoth [Daphnis nerii], Hoplia caerulea [top right], under that is the Spanish Moon Moth [Graellsia isabellae], and bottom right is Pterostichus cupreus.

Fourth page: Very quick colour studies of Calosoma sycophanta, from photos found on the net.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Me likey Anamorphosis

[Source photo here]

Calosoma sycophanta

Looks a little messy maybe, but my eyes keep seeing the back end as 3D in the second photo :)

Small entry I know, but it is Freshers fortnight... More paintings to put up later.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Politics, Wellbeing, and that thing we call Currency.

One of the major reasons I haven't been spending all my time doing the work I should be doing, has been Affluenza by Oliver James [my sister bought it because it sounded psychological and interesting, the same reason I even started reading it in the first place]. It's all about how money doesn't make you happier, but it goes much deeper than just making that old statement.

Oliver James travelled around the world to interview people in different English-speaking countries, giving snapshots into their personalities and emotional lives, and showing how their environment could have contributed to each. He's also extremely anti-Selfish-capitalism, and by the end of the book I had decided I really dislike adverts that tell you that if only you had their product, you would be so much happier.

Funnily enough, his book also gives his suggestions to avoid the "Affluenza virus" [known symptoms include wanting to be famous for the sake of being admired, wanting to have lots of nice things that you don't actually need in order to keep up with the Joneses, and thinking of people as commodities - including yourself - who will help you in your career or else you're not interested, as opposed to friends you like to spend time with], thereby reducing your vulnerability to emotional distress, giving you a chance to be happier. The difference between me saying that and an advert is that, if you buy Oliver James' book, I won't be getting any money for it. I'm spreading the word, not selling a product - there's a very fine line. It's one of the reasons I thought Lostprophets were awesome when I went to go see them in Newport. One of them said to the crowd that he didn't care if you downloaded their new song illegally, so long as you spread the word. Then again, I suppose they know enough of their fans would buy it anyway.

So what's all this got to do with computer games, eh?

Well. I was thinking about the politics of it, what Capitalism was all about, and I realised I didn't really know a lot about it and it's alternatives. I knew my friend Tito likes to write political things on his blog, apparently he's an Objectivist, and again, I didn't have a clue what that meant. He wasn't about at the time, so I googled it to give myself a vague idea. Then I had a look at what Socialism, and Communism, was all about, and then it struck me: how come I've not heard of any virtual worlds that try to put these ideas into play in the game? [If you know of any I could look at, do leave a link for me to check out :D] The unpredictableness of some players would be useful in seeing how such systems would work [or not work].

I thought about WoW and how it seems to involve a lot of [virtual] materlism. You kill one thing and what do you get? Copper. Silver. Gold. Maybe an item. Complete a quest and you get gold, or items. As you level up you get more gold to buy better items to increase your stats. When you get to the end level, your focus shifts towards group work to gain items in raids that have better stats that help you get better items in raids to give you even better stats. It's similar in the Sims in one way too - they NEED money.

They need it, not just to eat, but it's also decided that their happiness depends on the items they own - the items that are the most satisfying to Sims in-game are the ones which happen to be the most expensive. And [ignoring the money cheat for a moment] if your Sim doesn't have a job, you can't meet your needs very well, your Sim gets unhappy, and then it can't get a job. Then it dies or something. I'm not sure, I've never done a deprivation experiment on Sims, but I have witnessed how difficult the game got for one Sim a long time ago, probably before Sims 2 or 3. He ended up very depressed, and angry, and his wife left him. It was endgame for him then, because he had no one else in the house to bring in money for food, and he wouldn't get a job because he was "not in the mood", and we didn't know the money cheat at the time so we couldn't save him.

It might sound like I've just been stating the obvious. But in real life, it's not always the most expensive things that make people happiest in the long term. "The best things in life are free". If you think about it, this system of materialistic punishment and reward is something many of us have taken for granted in games. I'm probably going to be spending a lot of time now considering what the alternatives may be and how they might be implemented.

I don't know if this post has made sense to anyone at all, seeing as this is all quite new in my head and I'm sure I have a few contradictory thoughts floating about. Oh well. Here's some more reading, an article I just stumbled across but have yet to decide on how I feel about it: Happiness, the new currency in France.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Only a FORTNIGHT to Go!

Only a fortnight til I get to be back in uni :D

It might not look like it to the casual observer, but my mind is that hyper about the thought of going back that I'm actually losing sleep at night. Can't imagine how I'll be in a week.

I've started to pack by putting everything I brought back from uni into a big heap on my table. Now I just need to sort through it, and try to bring back only what I need [dad wasn't kidding when he said I'd accumulate junk there].

On top of that, I've got my Summer Assignment to do... For some reason, I had tons of motivation during my first month home, although I didn't actually do much proper work, and then after a few weeks it fizzled away so I could get on with holiday fun. Oh how inevitable of it. I feel like I'm at that point again where I don't know what to do, so instead I do nothing but ponder.

On the flip side, it took me 8 minutes to clean a shower-room at work today. 8 minutes! It used to take me like half an hour, because I'd have to think and try to remember what to do. But now I've got myself into a routine, I can spend those 8 minutes thinking about more important things as I clean... such as what on earth to do for my Summer Assignment.

It's not all bad I guess though, I'm making it sound like I've done no work. I've drawn, gone over in biro, and watercoloured the images of 13 pretty bugs in my book for use as reference [pictures to come]. Except they kinda only take up part of an A3 page... Hmmm...