Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Exchange Year. Part IV.

The last of the Exchange year updates!  The fourth part of my time over at the University of Central Missouri.

I hope you've enjoyed these posts and that they make you want to go.  And if you're already going to be going out to a far away land, I hope that these encourage you to get involved with the people and experience real [country you're going to].

Here we go:

One of the assignments we had was to draw a still life picture that emulated the style of an old artist and almost mirrored one of their pieces.  I looked at Degas' ballerinas.  I got a torn piece of cardboard (the best, in my opinion, material to draw on with pastels) and scribbled out the horse skull and various fabrics that I had set out for my still life.  I loved it.  I made half a dozen practise sketches on differing sizes of cardboard.  I love drawing with charcoal and pastels.

This guy again.  Brian Freeborn.  A fantastic man and a great friend.  He and his wife showed me so much hospitality and friendship in the time I was studying there.  When we went back to America a couple of years ago, we stopped by their house on the way and chilled out with them for a week.  It was fantastic.  Here, we're going to his for the weekend and spending time at a lake that one of his best friends lives near.

We went through Danville.  That made me happy.

This is one of Brian's best friends - Trevor Hawkins of Mammoth Media.  He lives in a gated community around Lake Lotowana and it is one of the most beautiful places to live that I've ever seen.  Everyone who owns a house there has a dock on the lake.  A parking space, if you will.  We fished off Trevor's deck for hours and had a proper laugh.  In the summer, they jump off the top of the deck shelter into the lake.  It's weird.  I went out there on a boat one night with them and we were all swimming in the lake.  The water holds heat very well but it's something that I'm not used to being from a country where our water is tepid - at best - for the first inch of whatever body it's found it.  The lake we swam in was probably the temperature I have my showers.

Fishing with Trevor is humbling.  He's a cameraman and editor for an outdoor show, so he just  knows where the fish will be.

On the side of the lake were some rocks.  Upon one of those was this guy basking.  I asked Trevor is it was poisonous.  Just before he finished the word "No", I was already grabbing for the snake.  Life goal achieved - catch a wild snake.

The World War II memorial - affectionately (and not in the least bit disrespectfully) known as Kansas City's penis.  Because it looks like a giant stone penis.

Fairly long exposure of Kansas City at night.  I love a good long exposure shot.

This is one of the best place I've even been.  St Louis City Museum.  It's a museum in the sense that there are a few trays of insects to look at on the fourth floor, but not much more than that.  Eleven floors altogether and then a load of stuff on the roof.  The first three floors are full of obstacles of all shapes, sizes and origins.  I didn't take my camera inside because I wanted to get involved and run around like a kid.  And boy, did I!

Up top there is the view from the car park.  On the roof, yes, that is a school bus.  And you could sit in the driver's cab.  Which was fairly scary.  As you can see, there are a couple of planes, a fire engine, etc.  All real things that have been decommissioned or auctioned off or something.  Apparently, the guy who owns the building is extremely rich and although out of eleven floors, only three and the roof are full, he is constantly adding things to the place.  It's amazing.

Under that, a view from the bus!  You can go in that plane there and that ball pool at the bottom is full of dodgeballs.  Imagine a ball pool with balls the size of basketballs.  Imagine being in said pool and throwing said balls at anyone and everyone who also joins you in the pool.  Imagine no more.  It's right here.

In what was the most inappropriate use of two fire engines I'd seen up until that point, we drove past this.  There's patriotism and there's this.

St Louis.  The man himself.  On a horse.  On a block of stone.

St Louis' Gateway Arch.  Magnificent.  I think it'd be feasible to climb to the top on the outside but getting down would most probably kill you.

This is what I'd been waiting for - Sculpture II.  Bronze casting.  After waiting for five months to do it, I had no idea what to make when the time came for it.  A created this little dude and crafted a few weapons for him.  It was great fun.

Painting class was great, too.  We were encouraged to buy thin MDF and paint on it.  Much, much nicer than painting on paper.  I can't remember what the assignment was, but it led to me painting a triptych of telephone poles.

Another friend, another AR-15.  We were out hunting coyotes, but they didn't show up.  I think they probably knew what was going on.  Instead, we shot at a fridge.  You know.  Because that's almost the same thing.

Final piece for Drawing II.  The extreme angle assignment.

I was taken to this guy's house for a redneck night.  The worship leader at the church I was at was big into his fishing and wanted me to have a good go.  We went to his friend's house and fished until we could see any more.  After that, the owner of the house, Jack, taught me how to press bullets.  He buys his own casings, slugs, detonators and gunpowder and makes his own ammo.  He also uses a 44-40 rifle.  This calibre round can be used in a rifle and a pistol - it was the cowboys' calibre of choice back in the day because if they had a big bag of ammo, they could reach in and grab any round and they'd know it would fit their rifle if that was what they were reloading or their pistol if that was what they were reloading.

Also, I'd shaved my head.

We went to another cave.  In this particular cave, I think Moonshiners hid out during the prohibition.  It was pretty cool to see inside.  They'd obviously lit up the place so you could see the various formations and at one point, they switched off all the lights so we could see what the natural cave would have been like.  Safe to say I have literally never been in a place as dark as the middle of this cave.  What used to happen was that the guys going down into the cave would have what was just a candle in a bucket with it's bottom kicked out - a candle in a tube, essentially.  It could be pushed up to provide light in an immediate area or the bucket could be held with the hole to the side to channel the light incredibly accurately like a torch.  It was pretty impressive.

After my second year, I had the summer of my life.  My lady and I got married in June.  The happiest day of my life.  I cannot possibly describe how amazing the day was or how happy she makes me, but I'll spend the rest of my life trying.

All in all, it was a very very enjoyable year and I can't recommend it enough.  I had an absolutely incredible time and I think that you should go and sign up right now to go and do this next year.


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