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.
Back to School with Kinesiology at Ashland Institute of Massage!
My ongoing obsession with knowing specifically the origin, insertion, action and shape of muscles has led me to take a rather in-depth kinesiology class. Over 100 class hours, plus out of class study time will keep me busy til April. And, of course I’m translating a lot of this stuff from massage application to artist application. I feel so fantastic when I’m in a class I love.
Finished this piece in time for the PERISHABLE show at APU. I’m also making another project for that show, that I will take no pictures of, tell you nothing about and that is temporary so the only way to view it will be to come see it during April at APU.
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.
Check out BACAA, Michael Grimaldi and Dan Thompson. BACAA – workshop host and location, Michael and Dan, instructors.
I teach a class on Wednesdays and before/afterward I’ve been working on this skull as a demo for students. Next step – transfer it to a panel and paint it.
My artist buddy Ted Helard and I have been kicking around the idea of having regular co-dependent (I know, I know, but not the co-dependent that’s bad!) anatomy study sessions where artists take turns picking the model, picking the area of study and kind of leading the group for three hours. We all contribute but none of us are anatomy experts, just big fans who study it as much as we can.
It was my turn this week and I chose arms. My study guide included the Paul Richer book. There is a wealth of information in the pictures, but just imagine if I read it! (It’s on my bucket list) We also referred to this fantastic, unbelievable artist from East Germany – Gottfried Bammes. Check his books out – there are a few small ones in print in English, but the good one is in German, is very hard to get and seems to cost a pile of money. Well worth it. It explains through pictures how the bones and muscles move and is clearer than anything I’ve seen. I actually don’t even know what it’s called because my old teacher bought an old copy online for a billion dollars and one of his students scanned it and we all got copies that lacked title page, etc. Vanderpoel and Wynn Kapit’s Anatomy Coloring Book both figured in as well. And Stan, our 3B Scientific plastic skeleton does his part. Bottom line – I’m slowly learning what I want to know….
If you’re around Ashland, Oregon on a Thursday, come and join us (Ashland Art Center, 357 E Main St, Ashland, OR). I’ll also put in a plug for the Drawing and Painting Class I teach on Wednesdays. Essential basics that many, many, many artists lack – proportion, perspective, value, understanding light and shadow. A good chance to eat your artistic vegetables. Put your time in. Trust me, it’s valuable.