Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Exchange year. Part III

While I wait and whittle away the possible hours until my next engagement, I'll update my blog with the uni exchange photos again!  I may even make two posts and schedule one to post up tomorrow or Thursday.

Here it goes:

The year started off well.  One of my wifey's best friends had recently got married to a guy who liked his guns.  We get on well.  He's firing a .22 calibre rifle and I'm using his AR-15; a rifle that is only a slightly larger calibre at .223, but that has rounds that are twice as powerful.  Both are nice and accurate, but mine was much more powerful and loud.

We went to an outdoor cinema.  We didn't particularly like the film they were showing, so I English-talked my way into the projection room and had a good look round.  It was huge.  We also got free T-shirts.  Because I'm English.

Planning the wedding, we were thinking it was going to be in America, so we started looking for places to have it.  Some of the caves out there are huge and have been converted into hotels and reception halls.  On our way up there, through the hills, we saw a great deal of derelict buildings and various shacks at different stages of disrepair.  We also went through a town without realising it.  It was really that small.

One of the obstacles we faced was this little beauty.  Fast running and deep enough to cause us great worry, we drove through it very carefully and had to stop for a regroup on the other side.  To get to the cave we were wanting to see, the GPS took us through the hills.  They were hills that you did not want to go through unless you really needed to.  There were cars stuck in the trees below corners that they had taken too fast.  Abandoned upside-down and left to rust away.  It was pretty eerie.  The town car we went up in was not best suited to the terrain and as a result, it took us 4 hours to travel the 10 miles to our destination once we hit the dirt roads.

To a little more frustration, when we got to the cave, we entered down a road that we could have got to from a town that my wifey has been to before.  So that was fun.

Up top there, my wifey huddled up as we waited to go inside.  Behind her was one of the reception fields that people use to party on after weddings.  There is also a helipad there for those brides who like to arrive in style - or the guests that feel like they need everyone to look at them instead.

Under that is the cave entrance.  It was great seeing the age-old caves with modern entrances.  As if we could improve them somehow.  Inside was incredible, too.  Two floors and many rooms incorporated various aspects of the natural encasing - a little stream trickled down in the main entrance, stalactites hung next to the chandeliers.  It was lovely.

On the way home we stopped off in Miami!  ...  Miami, Oklahoma, though.  Not the one everyone else knows.  This is the biggest McDonald's in the world, so I wanted to go there just to say I have.  Have you been there?  No?  Well that's why I went.

January and February in North Missouri was very cold.  They have this thing called wind chill over there.  It means that the weather itself could be bearable, but if there's a wind coming in it will take the temperature down a dozen degrees.  I like 9 - 15 degrees.  It's a nice cool temperature that I can comfortably walk the 30 minutes to the uni in.  But with the wind chill, that would get down to maybe -2, which is less comfortable.  I don't like wind chill.

My housemates for the second semester!  Up top there is Sofian Arik from France and then coming down we have Jongmin Park and 'Will' Lee - both from South Korea.  A lot of exchange students from China, Korea and Japan pick more English sounding names when they come over here - or America - to study.  Will's real name is Taek Ho.  They were really nice housemates and Will and Jongmin had a lot of friends over most nights, so I'd sit and learn Korean with them.  It was super fun.

One of my earlier pastel drawings.  We used pastel in our painting class for some reason.  It was explained well but I can't remember why, now.

A little sculpture doodle.  I draw things all the time in my little doodle sketchbooks; this is the sculpture equivalent.  A bottle cap clam.

I went to a mens' retreat with a big group of guys from surrounding churches.  We played paintball (with two people using airsoft guns), talked about manly things and generally encouraged each other and taught each other how to be men of integrity and general gentlemanliness.  It was great.  We also pulled this huge truck back into its wheels after it skidded over on the snowy hill.  That pretty much topped off the weekend.  Whilst pulling it back upright, we all grew beards and developed a love of good whiskey.

Up top there is one page out of two dozen that we did in the space of half an hour in Drawing II.  Quick gestural drawings are pretty fun because they make you have to put your thinking aside and focus on getting a form shown in as quick a time as possible.

Under that is a page from my extra credit stuff - stuff that earns you ...  extra credit.  It's possible to get more than 100% in a class if you complete the class perfectly and hand in all the extra credit stuff.  That fact annoys me because you shouldn't be able to get more than 100% in anything.

I highly recommend gestural drawings.  Draw as fast as you can and stop caring about whether it's perfect.

In Drawing I and Drawing II we started the year with drawing the skeleton.  We literally learnt how to draw people from the inside out.  We also learnt all the major muscles and all of the bones of the body.  That was fun.  Introducing the more academic aspect in what is usually a completely vocational subject.

As I doodle in my sketchbook, I doodle with sculpture ideas.  As I doodles with sculpture ideas, I doodle with paint ideas.  These are two such doodles.  One on a thin sheet of MDF (up top) and the other in a little sketchbook.

A graduate of UCM, Dan Scott came in and talked to us all for a whole day.  We all chilled out with him and ate pizza, he critiqued a few pieces of work and then gave us a walkthrough of one of his pieces for Magic: The Gathering.  Really nice guy.  He handed out booster packs of the cards and signed the ones we found with his work on; then he signed my sketchbook.

Along the river, there are these public barbecues.  I liked the fact that cooking and hanging out is encouraged to the extent that it is over there; with fire pits being built around the sides of lakes and Barbecue grills cemented into campsite areas.  It also made me sad because over here, they'd probably be kicked over or set on fire.  Which would be on odd mix of ironic and apt.

One of the assignments for the Drawing II class was to draw a self portrait from an extreme angle.  These were a few warmup sketches that I was experimenting with.

This is Juan.  I made him in the February of my first year.  It was so I could have a tangible figure with which to show my ideas for games in a different way.  My version of a human.  By this point in the year abroad, he'd been sitting in my bedroom doing nothing but gather dust.  There was a student citation show coming up, where everyone studying at the Art Centre could show up to three pieces of their work.  I figured I may as well pop this guy in because he hadn't been doing much...

...  turns out they liked him.  I won a $250 scholarship cheque!  Not bad.  I decided it was probably about time to make a few more...

My wifey gets acquainted with the Firing Range rules.  This place was so much fun.

Kansas City, Missouri.  At night.  Obviously.  A beautiful as the architecture was to look at during the day, so were these lights incredible at night.  Lining the ridges and arches of the buildings, the lights pulled everything in and highlighted otherwise unnoticed aspects of the buildings.

I realised I hadn't got a proper touristy picture in my time there, so this was to remedy that.

I have a great friend, John Carrington, who takes photos and makes videos and all that fun stuff.  On Valentine's Day, he just came up to Melissa and me and offered to take us out to have some engagement photos taken!  Really fun afternoon and amazing pictures.

That's all for now.

More to come.


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