I went to Paris for the first two weeks of May this year and my trip was entirely focused on studying art. I went to the Louvre six times – not nearly enough. I also visited the Orsay, Musee Bourdelle, Montmartre, saw Velasquez show at the Grand Palais, popped into the Musee Carnavalet and I know I missed a PILE of other great stuff.
I documented my trip in paintings and drawings. Most of these drawings were made in the Louvre – where I actually was moved to tears a few times; putting this album together brings back a bit of the emotional experience.
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.
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.