drawing your body’s anatomy – a workshop

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Arriving to the museum last Saturday morning, I ride up the elevator with a young woman who appears to be jogging. Are you out … for a run? I ask her. She is. It’s colder than I thought it would be, she tells me. And you came to the museum? She nods a yes and goes on to say … to warm up and maybe look around.

In the 2 trips I have made here – between the conversation in the museum with both visitors and docents, and in the city – I get the sense that the museum is a part of regular life for the local community.

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I return to Bentonville to take part in a Symposium at Crystal Bridges. The panel I present with focuses on Science in Artistic Form (I’ll talk about this another time).  This is one event in many. I also teach an anatomy drawing workshop for teens.

After the symposium on Friday night, I meet a couple who visits the museum regularly. We have a long talk about the facility and its various activities. Their daughter hoped to take my workshop but it sold out. I suggest they contact the museum and while I can’t give her a firm invite, I tell her I am open to more participants. I like the synergy of a large group. The next morning they arrive with their daughter. She attends the workshop while her parents attend the rest of the symposium. A few others join us. When everyone signs in I learn the group comes from all the surrounding areas.

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I walk into the studio to find a few artist anatomy books. Influenced by medical illustrations, I am more than excited to see that we also have one of the museum’s rare books on hand – Medical Anatomy; Illustrations of the Relative Position and Movements of the Internal Organs , Folio Size, 1869, by Francis Sibson. Earlier when I learn the museum owns this book, I ask if we can have a special showing. I explain to the class this is a rare opportunity. Anatomy! 1869! Hand-colored lithographs!

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I talk about my work and explain how we’ll proceed with the afternoon. I show one sample of a drawing and pass out postcards of my artwork – one to each participant. I explain general process including  use of color. I note that while I do look at artist anatomy books, most of my references come from medical anatomy and Yoga study sources. I mention I have a full human skeleton which is part of the video I end my introduction with. I pass out flash cards that include skeleton and muscle diagrams – and we begin.

The next 3 hours – we work out anatomy of their choosing. Class ends just as rain begins to fall in the small lake in front of the classroom. Here are photos of the productive afternoon.

A special thanks to Lori, an art instructor at Crystal Bridges, who helped me with the workshop.

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The purpose of the museum is to educate and build community – I’m glad to be a part of it.

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To go to the State of the Art website, click on the image above.

 

the little armored one

Armadillo is Spanish for little armored one. The Aztecs called them  āyōtōchtli meaning turtle rabbit.

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The Nine-banded Armadillo is the state small mammal of Texas. It’s believed to have crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico in the late 19th century. They tend to be solitary, mostly nocturnal, and forage at dusk. It feeds mostly on ants, termites and other small invertebrates.

From the start I intend to draw in the anatomy . Usually I begin with the foundation (skeleton) and move back and forth from there. Here, I couldn’t help but complete the covered shell first and it causes me to have second thoughts. Would the anatomy add to the image? I could ruin everything. After reading more I decide to continue as planned.

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The Texas mammal has a distinct shell casing made of bone. It has two large shell casings covering shoulders and rump, with seven or nine bands in the middle. When the armadillo is born, the armored shell is soft and leathery, and hardens once the animal reaches adult weight. Its total body length is about 15-17 inches, and the male weighs  11-17 lbs. while the female armadillo weighs in about 8-13 lbs. It has strong claws and a long, tapered tail covered by bony rings. It has 30 or 32 peg-shaped teeth and a long tongue.

A female armadillo reaches sexual maturity at 1 year and can produce up to 56 young ones over the course of her life. A single egg is fertilized, implantation is delayed 3-4 months, gestation is about  4 months during which identical quadruplets are split, each developing its own placenta. It will give birth to the same gender quadruplets from a single egg.

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The armadillo symbolically connects to boundaries and shields. It points to vulnerabilities, empathy, discrimination, and the idea of being grounded. The armadillo wears its armor on its back and its medicine is in that part of its body. It encourages us to protect our inner selves.

This week I meditate on the little armored one.

 

el murciélago

Murciélago is Spanish for bat. I like the word, and I like the creature.

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Approximately 70 species of bats live in the Sonoran desert region, about 27 of those species live right here in the state of Arizona, more than in any other state. I live near a bat colony and note them as they occasionally fly about the neighborhood.

About bats:
Bats are from the order of Chiroptera (meaning hand-wing), which describes their most unusual anatomical feature and the reason why it’s the only mammal naturally capable of true and sustained flight. In the course of working on this study I learn more about this magnificent nocturnal creature.

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  • A bats body is hairy while a leathery membrane makes up its wonderful wings.
  • Bats are not blind though see best at night.
  • They use echo-location to maneuver through space, and to help find shelter and prey.
  • They have an acute sense of smell which helps in the rearing of their young in large maternity colonies. In fact, it’s the way they find their own young in the midst of hundreds of others. I find it particularly interesting that colonies include non-reproducing females that help with rearing duties.

In the lower elevations of Arizona bats mate in late Spring, maybe as early as March.  In Northern Arizona bats can hibernate 5 to 8 months. 

Bats are in serious decline. They are an important part of our ecosystem helping to keep populations of night-flying insects like mosquitos, in control. They disperse seeds and pollinate many plants. In the state of Arizona bats and bat colonies are protected by law.

Symbolism:
Because bats live in the belly of Mother Earth, they symbolize death and rebirth. They are  reborn every evening at dusk. The Native Americans observed them as highly social creatures with strong familial ties. While the bat is nurturing, verbal, enjoys touch, it is also shy, intelligent and gentle.

Bat medicine teaches us to release fear. Think new beginnings.

 

rivers i don’t live by

In early March I receive a request from poet Kelly Nelson. She won a chapbook contest, she explains. The small collection of 18 poems will be published in the fall by Concrete Wolf, a press in Washington state.

Kelly writes:

I love the anatomy series you’ve been working on – both human and animals.

My chapbook is called “Rivers I Don’t Live By” and deals with themes of place and dislocation. I would love to have a detail from your work “You Are Here” or from another map-like piece of yours as the cover art. I think that would fit beautifully with the title of my book as well as with the theme.

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I receive 10 signed copies this week. The cover includes a detail shot of a work titled It’s All Intimate.

Naturally I make associations to the way I experience an art exhibition and how I might relate to Kelly’s chapbook. It’s a small book, with an appealing cover. I like the way it feels. I think of each poem like a painting, together they are a series – a connected body of work. I open the book and look at Kelly’s words.

The Practice of Female Dispersal
Abstract
Two million years ago, males stayed close to home, females radiated.

The first poem and its first line catch my full attention and I go sit and do a full read.

Congratulations Kelly!

Thanks for inviting me be a small part of this. I understand now why my maps and studies caught your attention.

Rivers I Don’t Live By is available through Amazon and Concrete Wolf Publications


About the Author
Kelly Nelson’s poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net and have appeared in 2 River View, I-70 Review, Watershed Review and elsewhere. She’s the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and was a Visiting Artist at the Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, Minnesota. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University and teaches Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State University.

For more info visit → Kelly’s website.

 

studying a tarantula hawk

10653809_10152734901582298_1046389924362837580_n My friend Patricia gives me this tarantula hawk for my insect anatomy series. She finds it dead inside her home. I learn it’s the official state insect of New Mexico. After what I read about the wasp I wonder why the Land of Enchantment would adopt such a creäture. Ironically there are a few animals that will eat a tarantula hawk wasp – the road runner, New Mexico’s state bird, is one of them.

The tarantula hawk is a spider wasp with a metallic blue body and rust colored wings. This one here has large, silvery graphite eyes (very New Mexico if you ask me). The striking appearance is aposematism  or warning coloration that benefits predator and prey – the wasp has a most painful sting. Despite these qualities it is relatively docile and attacks only when provoked.

The female wasp hunts tarantulas. When she captures one, she paralyzes and drags it to her nest where she lays a single egg in the spider’s abdomen. The larvae will feed on the live tarantula until it emerges as an adult to continue the life cycle.

The day Patricia gave me this bug, my husband saw one while on his bike ride in the Phoenix dessert. By his description, which included a newly caught tarantula, I knew what it was immediately. It lives in warm climates and here in the US is mostly found across the Southwest.

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a wandering nerve

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Vagus – Latin for wandering. The Vagus Nerve is known as the wandering nerve.  To understand why and where it wanders, I decide to draw out its path and the organs affected. The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve – CN X (there are 12 cranial nerves).

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It extends from the brainstem (Meudlla Oblongata)

The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the cranial nerves and has both motor and sensory fibers. It extends from the brain stem ( the medulla oblongata)  through the face and thorax to the abdomen.  It forms part of the involuntary nervous system and helps to regulate heart beat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, and to send a variety of chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive tract in working order, contracting the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food, and sending back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it.

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CN X moves from the brain stem and the neck, through the thorax, lungs, heart …

 

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…. and through various parts of the viscera


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and continues to the digestive tract

In this study I learn through the work of Kevin Tracey MD, there is a direct connect between the brain and the  immune system via CN 10 – in regulating the body’s  inflammatory response to infection and auto-immune diseases.

The body is more complex than I can ever really understand, but the glimpses and connections I make are exciting to me.

The images posted here make up only a small area in the upper right hand corner of a new figure composition.


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A few years ago before I began my current full body anatomy studies, I drew out all the  individual organs.  I collage many of them into small compositions. This one above is my best guess at the autonomic system.

Today as I better understand the Vagus Nerve, I realize this is some of the area I was trying to formulate through this early study.

celebrating insects @ the i.d.e.a. museum

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The i.d.e.a. Museum presents Jeepers Creepers: BUGS In Art
A Celebration of Insects (for children and adults)

The gallery will be filled with fun, artistic bugs that are inspirational and informative for all ages. Put on a bee suit and do a waggle dance or step into a make-believe world with giant bugs! You can even compare your size to extinct Paleo bugs and experience over 40 artworks made of all types of materials including video, watercolor, mixed-media and fabric by 10 different artists.

Here are a few samples of some of the artwork:

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Barrett Klein, Damselflies, , Digital

 

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Barrett Klein, UnEarth, modified globe, soil, salt and paint

 

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Andrea Uravitch, Cicada Shell, Mixed media


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Andrea Uravitch, Orange Cicada, Mixed media

JEWEL BEETLE OPEN LID 2

Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

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Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

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Georgette Rosberg, Purple Hairstreak, (butterfly) Color photos

 

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Georgette Rosberg, Blue Dasher (dragonfly), Color photo

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Joan Danziger, Honey Beetle, Metal, glass, acrylic paint‏

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Joan Danziger, Patchwork Beetle, Metal, fused glass, frit,dichroic glass

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Monica Aissa Martinez, House fly, Mixed media collage on panel

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Hawkmoth, Mixed media collage on panel

Edgar Cardenas includes video work that focuses on understanding the backyard as an ecological space just like any other environment. ↓

There will be plenty of opportunities to test your knowledge and learn all about bugs through fun and challenging puzzles, games and art-making activities or you can take the challenge to debunk myths about bugs and insects while learning facts like:

  • How insects help us and are beneficial to the environment
  • The different parts of insects
  • What insects eat
  • Insect homes
  • Life cycles of insects
  • How insects communicate
  • Insects that are edible
  • Insects that are extinct and newly discovered species

Featured artists:

Edgar Cardenas, Phoenix AZ
Eric Carle, Key Largo FL Courtesy of the Eric Carle Museum
Desi Constance, Phoenix AZ
Denise A. Currier, Mesa AZ
Joan Danziger, Washington DC
Wesley Fleming, Ashfield, MA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Joel Floyd, University Park MD
Elaine Hultgren, Phoenix AZ
Tara Jaggi, Pleasantville PA
Barrett Klein, La Crosse WI
Mindy Lighthipe, The Villages FL
Monica Aissa Martinez, Phoenix AZ
Karen Paust, Wellsville PA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Jeanie Pratt, Nipomo CA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Andrea V. Uravitch, Washington DC, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Georgette Rosberg, Tucson AZ
Emelee Van Zile, courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge

Specimens and fossils:
High-resolution images, exhibition activities and content & specimens from Frank Hasbrouck Insect Collection, Education and Outreach department at Arizona State University
Arizona Museum of Natural History, collaborating to loan insect collections, insect fossils and bugs preserved in amber

WHO: i.d.e.a. Museum
WHAT: Jeepers Creepers : Bugs in Art
WHERE: in the Whiteman Family Exhibition Gallery
WHEN: Oct 9 to Jan 25

 

For more info about exhibition, events, admission fee, hours of operation → The Idea Museum

* One photo from each artist posted here will direct you to their web site.
Do take the time to visit all the artists listed and their websites – the work is varied and wonderful!