James Flynn


The Thoughts of James Flynn

This is the place where I talk about my art, or any interesting information I have read about. To subscribe, click on the tiny orange button at the bottom of this page!

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Create art for the love of it....

Posted by James Flynn on April 29, 2013 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (5)

There was a time in the not so distant past where I was hell bent on becoming a "full time artist".

I love drawing portraits so surely this would be my perfect job wouldn't it?

The short answer is no.

When I look back on the last three years or so I feel depressed and ashamed. I'm proud of my dedication, but my family life suffered in a big way.

Drawing and painting for me has always been something I have done for the love of doing it. No pressure, no money, I just did it.

But it got to the point where I was almost forcing myself to paint something that wasn't really "me" anyway. I managed to have my first solo exhibition, I produced around thirty paintings, all neatly labelled and signed, and I even sold a few. I suppose I could say it was a successful exhibition, I covered the costs and earned a little something on top, but my goal to become a full time artist for now is over.

If i'm honest, even if a friend asks me to draw a portrait i'm inclined to say no. I literally only enjoy creating art when it is in a relaxed, therapeautic manner, when it doesn't matter how it turns out, and ironically they always turn out better when I care less about them.


Right now, i'm enjoying my art more than ever, i'm creating portraits to put up on here, twitter, facebook etc, people are seeing them and leaving the odd comment or two and that is more than enough for me.

Wild energy

Posted by James Flynn on April 8, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (5)

Every now and again I feel my artwork takes a certain step forward.

Now is one of those times. I feel I have reached a stage where I am creating the energy and mood that I strive for.

I have no doubt in my mind that I will progress more and more as time goes on, but there has definately been a recent shift.

Drawing portraits really is a strange thing. For so long I looked upon drawing as a careful, delicate process, and although it is true that portraits require a certain degree of accuracy, I can assure you that being "reckless" really does help too.

Quite a while back I put out a post on here titled "resisting the urge to be careful" (look it up, it's worth reading) where I spoke of the importance of not caring to much, and I believe this now more than ever.

The funny thing is is that it is really hard to put a pencil to your drawing and just put down bold harsh lines, and get an eraser and put slash marks over your work but it seems to work for me, and I enjoy drawing a lot more now too.

There have been times when I have drawn more carefully and precise, but the end result is not very revealing, and it doesn't show much character or energy to the viewer.


Here is a couple of my newest drawings, I use an app called "little photo" to get some of the different effects you see sometimes, I recommend it......

Any questions just give me a shout,

James Flynn

Marching on.....

Posted by James Flynn on March 9, 2013 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It was only a few days ago that I mentioned the fact that I had been drawing again just recently.

Well, it just so happened that a DJ friend of mine rang me out of the blue and asked me to draw something for him.

Someone we know is joining the french foreign legion, and a dance/trance track was made in his honour.

A cover for the cd could be made and somebody was needed to draw up a rough sketch of what was being visualized....

The song is called "marching on" and I was asked to draw a soldiers boot from the ground with a bit of background scenery to give the impression of a soldier about to march off into the distance.

I am quite pleased with what I came up with, and of course, took photos at various stages....

I started off with the soldiers boot....

And then I slowly started to add a bit of background....





And eventually,after a few hours of sketching away, I ended up with this......

And finally, after playing around with a handy little app called "little photo", my sketch looked more like this....

My friend was happy with the result, and I had a good time drawing this one.

And I have got another drawing in the pipeline aswell, so watch this space.....


New sketches

Posted by James Flynn on February 24, 2013 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (2)

It's been quite a while since I created any artwork.

And while I wont be getting my paintbrushes out anytime soon, I have enjoyed a little sketch just recently.

Sketching is the bread and butter of any artist, and I love it for it's convenience and therapeautic values.

I like to leave my drawings with a rough, "free" look still, and i've put my latest couple up here for you to see.....

Remember to follow me on twitter for drawings in progress updates.


Are we really that superior?

Posted by James Flynn on February 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (2)

A little while ago I wrote a post about whether another species could evolve to be like us.

And while I was asking the question in a kind of past tense, I have read something recently in a great book by Carl Sagan (see below) that makes me look at this question in a different way.

We all know that we are very similar to chimpanzees and that we both share a common ancestor. But I am sure we would all agree that we have a superior level of intelligence.

One of the big evolutionary leaps of our species was the invention of language and speech. And this it could be argued, is what gave our intelligence an evolutionary "push".

An interesting experiment was done to test whether chimps have the mental capacity for language in the same way that we have.

Sometime in the seventies a baby chimp was brought into a household with a new born baby. For three years the chimp and the baby were raised in the same way. Two cribs, two potties two high chairs etc....

After three years the chimp was way ahead of the baby in terms of manual dexterity, meaning it was climbing, running and leaping about the place with ease while the baby was nowhere near being able to do this. But while the baby was babbling away, the chimp could only say (with apparently great difficulty) the words "mama", "papa" and "cup".

I personally think this is quite impressive that the chimp could speak at all, but two psychologists Beatrice and Robert Gardner, at the university of Nevada realized that the larynx and the pharynx of the chimp are not suited for human speech.

So they came up with a brilliant idea to test the intelligence of chimps......

Teach them american sign language.

Good thinking I say. And it worked, very well.

The most impressive thing for me with this experiment is that not only did the chimps learn sign language with vocabularies of 100-200 words, but they were also very inventive when it came to forming words and phrases of their own.

For example, the first time one of the chimps saw a duck land in a pond, it gestured the phrase "water bird", something it had not been taught. The chimp had made this up for the occasion.

Another chimp who had never seen a spherical fruit before other than an apple, but knowing sign language for principle colours, saw a technician eating an orange and gestured "orange apple".

Very impressive wouldn't you say?

There are more examples too, but what this tells us is that chimps have the mental capacity and the intelligence for speech, but do not have the vocal equipment to deliver it vocally.

So, perhaps we are not as superior as we like to make out. Maybe we owe a great deal on our structural makeup. Apart from our opposable thumbs adding to our success, maybe we should be thanking our excellent vocal chords aswell.

Another important thing to mention that I read about is that certain cultural differences are present among chimps living in some areas. Meaning some chimps have have actually got different accents to other chimps, reflecting yet another similarity to our way of living (although their accents are heard in their screams and cries instead of sophisticated speech of course).

This got me thinking about whether we are as superior as we like to think.

I am starting to consider the fact that a lot of animals are capable of quite deep intelligent thought but are just unable to express it as well as we can.

In fact, just last night I heard on the news that domestic dogs are a lot more intelligent than people give them credit for, and tend to "steal" food around the house at night because they are aware that our night vision is not as good as theirs.

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you think we are the only highly intelligent animal on this planet?


I will leave you with an interesting video of chimps outdoing us on certain memory tests.......enjoy.


What do you gain from a hoax?

Posted by James Flynn on February 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (2)

I always lookout for bizarre and offbeat stories, they are a great source of entertainment for me.

A lot of what I read is a load of tat however, and isn't really worth a mention.

But recently I found a story that I remember reading a while back about an indian guy named Prahlad Jani, who claims to survive on very little, and has been doing so for the last seventy years.

Well, I say survived on very little, what I should say is that this man claims he has survived on nothing but sunlight for seventy years.

Quite a bold claim I think you would agree. Some would say a ridiculous claim.

Prahrad claims that a goddess named Amba sustains his wellbeing.

But for some reason I thought there might be something to this story. I don't know why but it didn't seem on the same level as some other ridiculous stuff floating around the net, so I looked into it a little.

After a little research on this story I found out that Prahlad Jani was observed around 2010 by a team of 30 doctors in an indian hospital in the state of Gujarat. He was apparently watched for 15 days in a hospital room under cameras, and the project was financed by the indian defence institute of physiology and allied sciences (DIPAS).

Sounds very legit doesn't it? It certainly seemed to have some credibility to it, so with eagerness I read on....

Doctors in india are thinking Prahlad may gain nutrients from sunlight, and apparently authorities are eager to find out about this man's abilities to somehow harness energy from sunlight for the benefit of soldiers out in the field, astronauts and people trapped in natural disasters.

Good thinking. It certainly would come in handy for all of the above, let alone put an end to world hunger.

My initial thoughts when hearing about this assessment was "why did they only assess him for 15 days?!

Ok, I suppose it's pretty well known that you can only survive for around two weeks without water so perhaps it was based around that, but why not just keep him in there for about two months and really settle it?

It's very impressive that somebody can go 15 days without food or water, I certainly wouldn't want to try it, but it still leaves you kind of unsatisfied.

This was puzzling me and annoying me, but as I researched this more, it was revealing itself more and more as a bit of a joke.

Firstly, Prahlad was allowed to gargle water and take baths out of sight of the cameras. He was allowed to wander out of sight of the cameras several times which doesn't really help the validity of the claim.

It's also worth mentioning that during an earlier study of this man in 2003 consisting of ten days, it was found that his weight slightly dropped, raising doubts about his seventy year claim.

Also, Dr Sudhir Shah, the man propelling this story into the limelight is a member of "Jain Doctors Federation", a kind of medical group who follow religious values and like to see things from a very "spiritual" angle......

Fair enough, but considering the fact that Prahlad Jani claims a goddess named Amba sustains him, you have to wonder whether this Dr Shah's judgement would be slightly clouded by religious zeal?

My main question about all this is why?

What does a person gain from staging a hoax?

There was no cash prize for proving that you have survived for years on sunlight alone, so why do it?

Attention? Boredom? Or is religion somehow playing an important role in all this?

Let me know what you think, do you think this guy is just after attention? Or do you think he believes he has not eaten for seventy years?

I always love to get comments on stuff like this so let me know what you think.....

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Cargo cults, an insight into human psyche?

Posted by James Flynn on February 3, 2013 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (2)

Sometime during the second world war, the american army decided to build various air bases around the island of Vanuatu and Tanna island.  These remote islands are found just east of australia, and very close to Fiji.  At the time of the American's arrival these islands were inhabited by the Tanna/ Vanuatu tribes, who interacted fairly well with the american troops at the time, and recieved certain food and supplies in payment for the americans being there.  This kind of arrangement happened on several different islands around this area at the time of the second world war.

Various activities took place over the islands, right in full view of the tribal natives.  Military planes landed on runways that were dug out by troops on the ground, food supplies were parachuted down from the air, and the military bases had fairly sophisticated arrangements such as offices and canteens.  On top of all this, naval ships could occasionally be seen around the islands at times.

Of course, this was ordinary, run of the mill activity to the american troops, but the tribes that occupied those islands at the time had been living in isolation and had not seen any kind of technology like it before.  They were so impressed and captivated by the sight of these planes and ships that overtime they became convinced that this cargo and military equipment, and everything else that they were witnessing was the work of some kind of god.  Technology like this was such a magical sight to them, that it was inconceivable that it could be anything other than the work of a supreme being.  Another spect which helped to convince the tribes that something magical was going on was the fact that no soldier was ever seen to be hunting or gathering, yet they always had food.  For a tribe this was very strange indeed, and just added to the mystery of it all. 

Various tribes on different islands reacted slightly differently to the military activity, but many tribes came to the conclusion that the precious cargo and supplies that they had seen flying down from the sky was being sent down for them by their ancestors, and that the white men had simply discovered a way to lure it down and intercept it from them. 

Eventually the American troops moved on, and the islanders went back to their usual style of living, left alone on the islands once more.  The ships and planes that the tribes had witnessed were no longer seen around the islands, and so the people of Tanna and Vanuatu soon started to do their very best to lure the planes back themselves.

While the army base was on their island, the men and women of the tribes had studied the actions of the military personnel very closely.  They had watched on as the soldiers spoke into radios, sat at desks shuffling paperwork and sometimes marching and performing military drills.  They concluded that the soldier's actions must have been ritualistic behaviour, designed solely for the intention of luring the gods to send down more planes and supplies.

Before long, the people of the islands began making their own makeshift runways, complete with control towers at either end, which they made from bamboo.  Quite often they even made large scale planes that sat on the runways, which were also made from bamboo and sticks, just for extra effect.  They thought that the runways that the white men had built were there to coax down the planes from the gods, and they were now trying to do the same for themselves. 

The tribes had seen soldiers talking into radios, so they also carved out their own radios from wood, and spoke into them, believing that it would trigger more supplies flying in from the heavens, or a magical plane from the sky.

Some occasions have been observed where tribes have performed military drills and parades with rifles hand carved from wood, imitating the actions of the soldiers that had occupied the islands.

The fascinating part of this story is that it perhaps reveals something about the human psyche.  All over the world, humans have a tendency to worship a particular god, and the cargo cults may reveal to us that it may be a kind of built in tendency to expect there to be a god up in the sky, looking over us.

It has been speculated by some that this story highlights Arther. C. Clark's third law, which states "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Some of the cults that arose during the second world war can still be found on the islands today.  Here is a short video which brilliantly captures the essence of what they are all about.








How probable is intelligence?

Posted by James Flynn on January 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (8)

Not a day goes by when I don't marvel at the fact that life has evolved on earth.

In fact, I think about it too much. I partially blame it for the fact that I can't sleep at night. Bit extreme I know, but it really is a fascinating subject for me.

Of course, being human myself I tend to focus on human evolution rather than any other animal, not that the evolutionary paths of other animals are any less amazing mind you....

However, we do seem to have gained an evolutionary asset quite different from the rest of the animal kingdom in one aspect....intelligence.

We are not the only intelligent animal on the planet, we all know that dolphins, elephants and octopuses are very intelligent creatures, but I think most people would agree that we can not be rivalled in terms of intelligent thought.

I often wonder why it was primates that evolved to be so clever, why not other forms of life? Or maybe the better question to ask would be "how inevitable is it that a life form will gain intelligence as a tool for survival over time?

Very heavy questions I know, i'm surprised my poor brain hasn't burnt out from all the stress I put on it, but it seems I am not alone.....

Anyone heard of a bloke called Dale Russell?

Until a few weeks ago I hadn't. That was until I stumbled across a theory of his that he came up with all the way back in 1982 (or somewhere around that time).

It is probably worth noting that Dale Russel is a respected geologist and palaeontologist in america, you can read more about him here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Russell..

I was completely taken back when I saw this, and have been fascinated with the idea since reading it. This theory is critisized heavily by the scientific community for reasons I shall get to shortly, but here is the gist of it.....

Once upon a time there was a dinosaur called a "troodon". It was a relatively small, bird like dinosaur, but most importantly it had a very large brain for a creature of it's size.

Here's a picture of what the these things looked like....

Troodon Image

Image surface vision

They certainly don't look like they have big brains to me, but i'll trust the experts on that one and leave it at that.

But here's the interesting part......

Dale Russell's opinion is that if the dinosaurs did not become extinct all those years ago, these troodons could have lived on to have evolved and inherited a very high level of intelligence.

Tantalising thought isn't it? Well it actually gets better......

Dale's opinion is that the troodon would have ended up with larger brains as the years went by. And this, in turn would have led to extended, larger skulls to accommodate this change. Dale also states that this would have caused the troodons neck to become shorter to be able to carry the weight of a larger skull, and the species would inevitably become bipedal and walk upright.

And further still, over time the tail of the troodon would have diminished as did with our great ape relatives. Dale also believes they would have of course learned to be a tool using race and basically would have followed a path very similar to ours, and may have looked like something resembling this...

Picture cracked.com


Pictures wikipedia.

It's hardly surprising that this theory has been subject to it's fair share of criticism. And I imagine that is probably quite an understatement. The reason for this is mainly down to the fact that it is so anthropomorphic. It is suspiciously humanlike.

It has been argued that the troodon would have kept it's horizontal stance and not necessarily grown to be bipedal and resemble the human form so strongly.

And however much I like this idea, I have to agree. It is a little too human looking, but it does make me wonder whether another species would have taken our evolutionary route if it didn't happen to us primates. Food for thought indeed. And he may not be miles off either, just that it's exhaggerated a little.

So far we remain the only "highly intelligent" beings we know of, so until I see a reptile inventing the wheel, or learning how to make fire, I think we have to marvel at the fact that we have been very priveliged to have followed the route that we have taken as a species.

Nevertheless, I think this is a theory worth sharing, from clearly quite a clever man.

For old times sake.....

Posted by James Flynn on August 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Graffiti was a massive part of my teenage years.  For a long time it was all I thought about.  There was nothing I enjoyed more than going out late at night and climbing onto the train tracks after getting hold of some paint, and spending the night painting away, and getting into all kinds of adventures.

It really was a real life adventure.  It was like a sub - community, meeting up in the night to go and paint this wall, or that wall, or finding a way into a train depot, or just to simply be out, getting your name up somewhere and leaving your mark.

A lot of people don't understand graffiti, or don't like it.  I can understand why, because a great deal of graffiti is just "tagging", which is often done by young kids who don't know what they are doing.  But graffiti has inspired a lot of creativity over the years, and I miss the thrill of the adventure a lot.

Which is why I couldn't resist getting out my spraycans recently, and painting a portrait.  This was actually a first for me, as I used to paint mainly letters with spraypaint back in the day.

But I was pretty satisfied with my efforts......

I was looking forward to this day so much, I even decided to bring my video camera along.  You can see me painting this right here...



I enjoyed painting this so much, I will definately be going back out again soon to paint another.  I'm looking forward to it already.

Until next time......

Rob Wareing portrait demo

Posted by James Flynn on August 17, 2012 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello again.  I have been dying to share with you some photos of a great day I had back on the 4th august.

I was fortunate enough to attend a portrait painting demo/tutorial with a great artist you may know called Rob Wareing.  I had been looking forward to this for quite a while, and I eagerly turned up, armed with a bag of paints, and my best brushes.

The morning started off with a pastel demonstration with a great model named Kelley Swain. (she has a great blog, you can see it here http://kelleyswain.wordpress.com/ ) It was great to sit there and watch an experienced artist like Rob at work....

Here is a close up of Rob's portrait.  He didn't take it any further as we were all itching to paint at this point!....

Things got underway, and it was great to paint with other people for a change, as I usually paint alone, but it was good to have other people around to talk to and get some feedback.....

After about two or three hours later, I had produced something I was fairly pleased with, although I could have happily spent another couple of hours painting away!  But that is the good thing about sessions like this, having the clock ticking away behind you takes you out of your comfort zone, and you end up learning a lot more about yourself.  Anyway, here is the end result of my day of painting....

I thoroughly enjoyed myself here, and for more info about future events like this, please take a look on http://www.chislehurstartists.com/

Thanks for reading, and see you all soon.....

James Flynn