Saturday 7 March 2015

Blog halts after nearly seven years...

I thought I might as well convey my main message in the title, so there you are: The blog 'Furahan Biology and Allied Matters' will not see new posts with regular intervals.

There will be the occasional post now and then, but those will be limited to announcements of something interesting, such as me giving a talk somewhere, a conference with speculative biology in it (perhaps Toulouse later this year). I will definitely provide a review of my French friends' work as soon as I have the book in my possession, which will be four to six weeks from now. But there will no more posts on biomechanics and no discussion of exobiology in films or the work of other artists.

The reason is not that the well has dried up. There are many interesting artists who display their work on the internet, and I could write about the consequences of more effective photosynthesis, or why Furahan trees have a 'clastocyte' layer of cells that breaks down wood. Of course, my 'long thought experiment' on the purpose of toes would deserve a post, and a comparison of Boston Dynamic's Big Dog and the apparent new Chinese equivalent provide an interesting comparison on whether legs of alien animals should have zigzagzig or zagzigzag patterns. But no...

The reason is time. My job requires 50% of my waking time, so there are not many hours left. A simple blog post such as this one takes over two hours to produce and put up. However, the really complex ones, the ones that required me to read books, study papers and provide additional illustrations, could run up to more than eight hours. The blog competed with painting and writing, so progress on The Book was slow. The Book is about one third finished, and a two-page spread usually shows one main painting, and additional illustration, a size sketch and text. Of all these things, writing is by far the fastest element. A two-page spread probably takes 20 hours, and The Book is supposed to have up to 140 pages. It dawned on me that giving up blogging would allow me to increase my painting output considerably.

There is another element involved. Painting is –obviously- an acquired skill, and you have to keep doing it simply to avoid losing your skill, and to become better requires even more work. I have blogged in the past about crossing over to digital painting. Its main advantage is the enormous increase in speed of production that also translates to an increase in learning speed. But you still have to keep doing it. For years I found it difficult to start up again after a hiatus, and because of that I needed to be relaxed to do it well; hence the low output. I reasoned that, if I painted something every week, my skill level might not deteriorate so I could put in an hour here and an hour there. That seems to be working, and I now plan to produce at least one spread a month. When will The Book be out? An optimistic count would be three few years, an a pessimistic one never (in which case I will dump all the material on the internet) I guess. There is a chance that it may appear in French... Any news on that will certainly merit a post.

So there you are. I would like to finish by thanking all the readers who showed enthusiasm for my work over the years. Their comments often made me think again, or more, about any subject. And once in a while those comments produced a new Furahan animal. The Book will have six pages on rusps (already finished).  I will show one species to be shown on one such page, born from a discussion of high-feeding rusps. That particular discussion mostly featured Jan and Petr, but they are not the only ones providing inspiration. Thank you all! 

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
The grey outline shows the brontorusp for size. The new species, provisionally named 'Giraffacrambis sp.', is much narrower and less massive than the brontorusp. It still is a formidable animal, though.