Anatomical Position

Anatomical Position

Anatomical Position
Anterior Male
Anterior Female
Posterior Male
Posterior Female

I received a grant last year to help with my figurative anatomy studies.  It was a real boost, both in morale and in the opportunity to study something awesome. I took a 3 month online intensive artistic anatomy course, I spent three weeks at the Stanford morgue studying bodies with Dan Thompson, Michael Grimaldi and the BACAA crew. I then returned home and began a series of four figure paintings that I am finally showing publicly today!

These figures are all posed in Anatomical Position, which is one of the first things we learn in a medical anatomy class. All the body’s movements are categorized based on this position. By making these paintings I was able to consciously translate my new technical, theoretical knowledge to the living, breathing, reality of the person. People are more than textbooks, more than flesh and blood, of course. Similar, but totally different.  And this is what we love about life.  Everything in the universe has a unifying baseline, but with wonderful, endless variety.

To create these paintings I hired models who came to stand in my studio about 10 times a piece.  I had each person stand in the same place and painted them roughly in the same scale.  It was a delight to spend so much time with each model, studying and getting to know them.  In fact – three of the models are in the same family. Posterior Male is married to Anterior Female and Posterior Female is sister to Anterior Female.

Gross Anatomy for Artists Workshop

The workshop I just attended was amazing – we drew a model every morning and in the afternoons we studied cadavers at Standford Medical School.  What an experience.  These photos are from the first day – you can see me in the pink sweater with the face mask – looking frightened.  First day was freaky, mostly because of the formaldehyde smell.  The next day was interesting and then each subsequent day was more and more and more interesting and I’m so glad to have had the experience.  Getting a sense of the physical nature of the  insertions, origins, actions, structure, function of the muscles was so valuable, although really just an intro, I have much to memorize to thoroughly benefit.  I’d like to go back again – hopefully this summer.

FYI – Michael Grimaldi, instructor, pointed out on the first day that these bodies were given by their former inhabitants very consciously – these aren’t coerced or unclaimed bodies or anything.  Dan pointed out that studying them really shows you how that what makes us human is the animating force, and it’s true; it was surprisingly undisturbing – I kept finding myself saying, “it’s so beautiful”.

My drawings from the workshop aren’t much to write home about, so I’ll just show the cell phone photos.  The real value was in the new understanding, the curiosity sparked, the ideas I plan to pursue.

drawings from gross anatomy workshop

Check out BACAA, Michael Grimaldi and Dan Thompson. BACAA – workshop host and location, Michael  and Dan, instructors.