Everything and everyone has two sides. Star Wars knows this, as do the zen teachings of yin and yang, as does the story of the great Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; and all reveal to us the nature of those two sides. A light side and a dark side. An inside and an outside (obviously the inside is the dark side, since light can't pass through flesh and bone). To get to know someone, you must understand them fully - to the core, the marrow, whatever you'd like to call it. This is the relationship I have developed with a good friend of mine: the ever stellar Steller Sea Lion.
Sure she's plain on the outside, with a drab brown coating of fur and fins streamlined for moving through the water like a torpedo of blubber. But there is so much more to this marine mammal than a boring hide. What hides under this hulking beast's rippling layers of fat and tissue is not one but two inner layers of innards. Lurking beneath the surface lie the muscles and the bone.
"Tan Your Own Hide, Steller Sea Lion Skin Layer." Eumetopias jubatus. 2011. Colored pencil on film.
Were I to arm wrestle my friend the sea lion, I would surely be defeated simply because of the sheer volume of this beast's muscle fibers. Not to mention how slippery their flippery are. Plus, they are related to bears. Massive pectoral and dorsal muscles work in concert with the shoulder to power through the ocean's depths. And the construction of that actin action and myosin movement are informed by the form and function of the deepest layer of this deepwater creature.
"More Fun Than A Bundle of Sinew, Steller Sea Lion Muscle Layer." Eumetopias jubatus. 2011. Colored pencil on film.
The skeleton is an ossified masterpiece of evolutionary ingenuity. A jigsaw puzzle of calcified fortification enables these paradoxically amphibious mammals to be free in the sea and yet stand on land. Massive scapula bones provide excellent attachment sites for plenty of muscles to do their flexing and extending for swimming in water and hobbling about on shore.
"Baring the Load-Bearing Bars of the Bear Cousin, Steller Sea Lion Skeleton Layer." Eumetopias jubatus. 2011. Colored pencil & gouache on film.
Taken on its own, each piece of this sea-worthy vessel is a beauty to behold. But in concert, the cogs fall into place and turn in unison, keeping time with the pace of life. And from this symphony emerges the necessity of inner and outer sides. The requisite existence of both light and dark is revealed.
"Sea-Through Lion Layers, Steller Sea Lion 3-Layer Composite." Eumetopias jubatus. 2011. Colored pencil & gouache on film.