Friday, February 19, 2010

Microscopic hunting adventures and Whooping Gibbons

Yes I know that is not a Gibbon. Turns out that more than one Ape will be mentioned in this post.

I have had oodles of juicy goodness to write here, but seeing as I have taken on another freelance project I have been a tad M.I.A.... well, when I haven't been frolicking at Disneyland or the LA Zoo(Annual passes, huzzah).

Unfortunately my new freelance project is something I will have to keep very hush hush about in the meantime. All I can say is it is a very thrilling concept that I am doing character design for, and that I really hope becomes something in the future so I can tell you all about it. I am always intensely nervous each time I start a new project. Ever see that film "Blank Check"? You know, where the little kid gets a whole bunch of money by finding a blank check and pretends to be a millionaire business man... running a business from a computer in his house... no one suspecting he is only a little kid and completely incompetent? Then eventually they find out and it all goes to hell from there? Well, I always feel like I am that little kid, posing as a professional, that will one day be found out. I even try my best lately to disclose that I am a student, with very little time to focus on projects... but surprisingly that didn't deter the last two people that found me on Youtube.

By the way, isn't it crazy that Youtube can actually bring in actual animation jobs? I can't tell you how many times a week I get asked to do things for free(good lord I will never do that again...), but occasionally, something legit actually pops up. Sometimes I wonder if all the anxiety I get from it is actually worth it though. In the long run, I think it isn't(for me, that is)... because I don't feel any stress or anxiety from the long hours I am spending in school right now. It just feels right.

It took a really long time for me to figure this out... the difference between satisfaction from being good at something, from what simply makes me happy. I really enjoy having created something beautiful when I animate... but I don't enjoy a lot of the process. I, at best, tolerate being indoors... and the majority of life as an animator is inside a windowless room.

I remember when I was younger, I used to go to sleepaway camp up in the Angelus Oaks at a place called Camp Cedar Falls. For about 7 years I would go there for 1-3 weeks at a time. I always picked "Horsemanship" as my main activity during the day. I loved everything about it. I loved cleaning the horses hooves, I loved riding them, I even enjoyed the time mucking the manure out of their stalls because it was a really great bonding time to be in the stall with them. It was a kind of happiness that sits far deeper in my soul than the kind I get from creating art.... even though I would never want to give up art in my life either. It just isn't the most enriching of my favorite things.

Speaking of Art, I have now successfully had 4 bowls pass the first Kiln test. Note my first, sad little bowl below. It is rather small(since the whole process shrinks the clay in each firing), fitting about the size of a fist inside. This was my 2nd bowl I ever made (the first being destroyed for the sake of seeing what was inside)... and I made it before I could pull up a cylinder - a critical point in making anything larger than a frumpy little sugar bowl.

In the stoneware ceramics we are making, the clay goes through the kiln twice... once after it is made and once after it is painted/glazed. Having my 4 pots go through the first firing was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience since the first firing "weeds out the bad pots"(I always imagine that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory with the Golden eggs weeding out the bad eggs.. and children.. eep). There is a little rack next to the kiln, full of dejected and forlorn pottery that either wasn't strong enough to even make it INTO the kiln, or crumbled/cracked/blew-up, after the first firing. Luckily... All 4 of mine made it through *squee*. I will have more pictures next time, it's a tad difficult to hold a camera when hands are covered in sticky clay.

Like Intaglio Printmaking, Ceramics is quickly becoming one of those art forms that I absolutely adore. I love how so much of it is left up to chance. I love that there is a lack on control. I love that the glaze is unpredictable and can run down the side of the pot without my choosing when in the kiln... I love that I don't have to think so much about what I am making, what character to draw or what "concept" to portay. I just play with it. It is therapeutic. Must ask Santa Clause for a wheel and kiln one day(And Santa must be feeling especially rich).

One thing I also love about my ceramics class is that if I head outside at the right time to walk to and from the class to the kiln area... I can hear the Gibbons from across the campus. The Ceramics building sits on the top of one hill, and the Teaching Zoo sits on the top of another across a big dip between that has the sports area.

(this picture is one I took from my parking spot on the edge of campus, but it gives you an idea of the landscape on a very rare, rainy, Los angeles day... and a very rare green period of time.)

Last week, while carrying back 3 pots stacked precariously between my chin and arms, I heart a really loud whooping sound coming from across the hills. It is the most delightful little sound you can imagine. Not scary like the howler monkeys, not hyper and wild.. just beautiful whooping. Here's a litle video courteousy of Youtube

Now, on the topic of Apes... I also thought it would be a good idea to get an annual pass to the LA zoo. Ryan and I went last weekend and spent most of our time looking at the Primates(for me) and the Birds(for him). The Zoo was nauseatingly full of hyper children and their grumpy parents(while I love kids in small bundles... large quantities of children with their parents is something I try to avoid). Trying to see the Gorillas and the Chimps was a tad futile since kids were yelling and screaming at them - which didn't exactly invite them to come over and interact. Luckily, the Orangutan habitat is hidden in a little nook of a path away from tons of stroller wielding armies. When we found it, we were the only ones there.

The gal in the picture up top is a mom. She would run over to the side of the enclosure where the metal netting is(most isn't glass, so they can climb up to the top on the netting since orangutans love to climb) and stare right at me.

Unfortunately there is also a little pond by the netting that the orangutans can reach if they stretch out real far... the unfortunate part being that people have a habit of dropping trash there.

The momma and the baby(5 years old.. but still so small) both took this trash pond as something to be explored and procured both a plastic sprite bottle for the baby, and a ziplock sandwich bag for the mom. I was worried at first that the two of them would eat the trash... clearly I wasn't giving them the benefit of the doubt. Instead, the baby climbed down to the bottom of the enclosure and put the opening of the bottle up to a small hole in the wall. She pressed a button next to it and the bottle filled up with water(!). She then carried the bottle back up to a sunny spot, sat down and starting drinking the water out of the bottle like any old human does. The mom took the ziplock, filled it too with water, closed the top with her lips, and went to sit by the baby, drinking the water from her bag. Only one word can describe this. Bitchin.

Now, Speaking of Bitchin, in my Zoology class this week, I saw one of the coolest things I have seen since I saw the Blue heron hunt and eat a Rat on ventura Pier last December(um, yeah... seriously). Under our microscopes, in a little petri dish, we put a live Hydra(related to sea anemones... but this one was as small as a few grains of salt) in with a very small crab type thing(a Daphnia.. also only a few grains of salt). Under the scope we watched the hydra reach out it's tentacles, GRAB the wild thrashing Crab, paralyze it, and start to consume it. This is hunting on a scale so small, you would never see it happening if it was right in front of your nose. It was the coolest thing I have seen under a microscope. Go ahead and youtube search "Hydra eating daphnia".... but I guarantee you none of those videos portray the epic battle I witnessed on Tuesday. Trust me, I looked.

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