deep in the solar plexus – the pancreas

I love the shape and texture of the pancreas – long, flat, soft and flexible. I’ve drawn it before and wonder why didn’t I note it tucked deep into the solar plexus? This organ carries some energy!

The 6″ organ sits behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The head of the pancreas nuzzles the duodenum while the tail end tapers into the spleen. The organ is gray-pink in color but because I want to emphasize subtle energy, my representation is yellow (golden) dominant.

Pancreas (anterior)

The pancreas plays a role in both the endocrine system and the digestive system.

As part of the endocrine system the pancreas produces hormones (insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide), secreting them directly into the bloodstream. One of its jobs is to monitor the bloodstream. When the pancreas detects a rise in glucose levels it responds by producing a hormone called insulin. Insulin attaches to cells signaling them to open up and absorb the glucose (basic fuel for the body) from your blood.  Insulin allows cells to receive the energy they need and ensures blood glucose level remains stable.

It also holds an exocrine function involving secretion of digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates, lipids, and in particular – proteins – aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.

Pancreas (posterior) Slight color variation signifies – from left to right – the tail, body, neck and head

Symbolically:
The pancreas is located in the solar plexus, the area representing the center of will.
Connected to it are the energies of stability, instinct and intuition, along with will, courage, choice, action and peace.

Caroline Myss connects the pancreas to the sweetness in our life…ahhh glucose.


I am in the planning with the University of Arizona medical school for a solo exhibition. I hope to include the endocrine system I designed last year. Because the pancreas from that original series found a buyer, I draw another. Returning to it allows more insight.

altar of incense, the ethmoid bone

Coming across an image of the ethmoid bone, I love its wild structure. I wonder where in the body is this angular (cubical) bone located?

Quickly I learn it is one of 8 bones of the cranium.

Look to the top centered, dark area inside and underneath ↑ the skullcap. This is one side of the ethmoid bone. It separates the nasal cavity from the brain.  (Man…do I really need to clean this skull. Though for this purpose the dirty area works as a marker.)

From the front of the skull, the Ethmoid bone sits at the roof of the nose, between the two orbits forming the inner edges of the eye sockets. Ethmos is Greek and means sieve. The bone is lightweight and spongy, full of air spaces and canals.

Ethmoid bone (anterior view)

Neurons of smell travel thorough the ethmoid and the olfactory bulbs that lie atop, across what is called the cribriform plate. If this narrow and deeply grooved plate is broken one loses their sense of smell. All olfactory nerves travel through the crosses and canals of the ethmoid.

Ethmoid bone (posterior view)

I enjoy drawing the front and back of this beautiful bone.

About its symbolism:
In more esoteric teaching it is called the altar of incense, representing the altar in the sanctuary.  The altar of incense is the place of prayer and this bone represent the principle of prayer.

Inhale deeply!  Consider the lovely ethmoid and know it connects to your sense of smell.

no woman is an island

I could have titled this post: The Mud Dauber, at the Wedding Party.

The doorbell rings.

Sergio, the new neighbor, stands in my front patio holding a plastic cup. Sergio is newly wed (only a few days newly wed at this point). He and his wife Terrah, recently move on to our street.

Look! We found this at our reception! He says with excitement. I look into the cup and see a wasp of some sort. Do you know I paint bugs? Yes! That’s why I am bringing him to you.
We’d like to commission a small painting! 

It’s beautiful, I tell him.  Do you know what it is? He responds, No, that’s your job! 

I plan to research and identify the small, thin-waisted, golden-yellow and warm-black wasp. I understand bright colors signify a more aggressive species…well let’s see what I discover.

Yes, this wasp can be aggressive, but usually only when provoked. I learn a few other surprising things.

It’s a Mud Dauber from the Hymenoptera order. Derived from Ancient Greek hymen means membrane and pteron is wing. They have two pairs of thin, often see through, membranous wings. The hind wings connect to the fore wings by a series of hooks, considered married wings in flight. Note: Hymen, also Ancient Greek, is the god of marriage ceremonies, inspiring feasts and songs.

Two other features are their chewing mouth parts and large compound eyes. These wasps build their nests from mud (hence mud dauber). Did I mention Sergio and Terrah bought a newly remodeled house. He didn’t care for the layout of the yard(s). They are in the process of redesigning and completing as much of the work possible, on their own.

The symbolism of the wasp (happy to report):
Communication
Focus
Order
Productivity
Progress
Team work
Construction
New start
New goals
New doors

You probably couldn’t find a more appropriate symbol representing new beginnings, on your wedding day –  congratulations Sergio and Terrah!

And thanks! for the commission.


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

royse contemporary opening soon

If you’ve involved yourself in the downtown Phoenix art scene the last few years, you know curator Nicole Royse. She’s a risk-taker, organizing one exciting exhibition after another. Adding to her list of credits, Nicole has moved uptown and is now owner of Royse Contemporary.

Her début show, opens in a few weeks. Southwest Contemporary Today will showcase the work of 6 artists including ↓ Fred Tieken, Daniel Shepherd,  Marilyn Szabo, Angel Cabrales,  Charmagne Vasquez Coe, (and myself) Monica Aissa Martinez .

I can’t help but appreciate hearing how she pulled the group together. She notes distinctive voice, accomplished work, connection and history with the American Southwest, as well as commitment and impact in the arts. She continues, expect to engage with vibrant collage, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media art work.

Showing mutual respect Angel Cabrales, El Paso artist says, Nicole has been such an amazing force in the Phoenix art community, the amount of dedication and work she puts out to help artists and gallery’s is inspiring. I’m happy to have met her and to have become a friend. I wish there were more people as dedicated to the arts as she is, she lives and breathes art.

I agree. I wish her nothing but success. Adding to the hats she wears which include wife and mother, she is curator, writer, art consultant and now gallery owner.

Congratulations Nicole!

WHO:      ROYSE CONTEMORARY
WHAT:     SOUTHWEST CONTEMPORARY TODAY
WHEN:    OPENING: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 from 5-10pm
ON DISPLAY TO SEPTEMBER 30, 2017
WHERE:  7077 E. Main Street, Suite 6, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
In Old Town Scottsdale, participating in Scottsdale Artwalk

The opening will feature a brief talk by Nicole Royse, addressing artists and the work highlighted in the exhibition.
Come meet everyone, see the artwork, listen to live music, and enjoy light hors d’oeuvre and refreshments.

Keep an eye out for Nicole’s other projects around town.
More → Royse Contemporary 

mark making – on the fly

Mid-June: I drive through the streets of El Paso, TX, my home-town, with my brother. He takes me through the warehouse district to look at murals and graffiti walls. Returning to Phoenix, I regret not taking photos.

End of July:  For years I noted street art. El Paso nudges me. I’m curious enough to mess with it now.

Though not complicated, I admit, I don’t know what I’m doing. I cut out
stencils and pick up black aerosol spray paint. I cover my mouth and nose with a light-weight face mask. Quickly I learn I love (love) the graphic image. No delay of gratification with this medium. The experience is intoxicating to say the least.

And it’s toxic. It doesn’t help that it’s summer in Phoenix. I am just about done with it when someone gives me color aerosol spray paint. Before the weekend is over I pull out a high-quality mask with mouth, nose and eye protection and I wear long sleeves and gloves.

And so it goes…

I don’t have the language down. Is it a tag? A stencil? Because I am a printmaker at heart, my preference connects to mark-making.

No title, no signature, no sense of permanence, less is more.

Marking space, on the fly.


Afterthought…
Perhaps things begin with wanting to take the jaguar I am painting in studio, out of studio. One early morning, a few weeks ago, I go outside to photograph the painting. The shadow of the tree animates the composition in such a way, I naturally want to see the big cat outdoors.

He roams.

Today: back to painting in the studio with the plan to finish my jaguar in August.  I feel  satisfaction with last week’s roll.

Though I feel I should give it one more try…and play with the political. It’s crazy out there…

jaguar – panthera onca – big cat

Presence of a jaguar(s) in the Sonoran desert determines I will someday draw the big cat. First things first, I need to cross paths with one.

Last weekend, a visit to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center with artist Carolyn Lavender, brings the opportunity. We attend an evening Bat Netting. Excited about the bats, I don’t think about meeting the resident jaguar.

Before the netting, our guide walks us through the facility. Each animal has a rescue story. (Humans…one really has to wonder about some of them.)

A jaguar walks towards us, slow and elegant. Two fences sit between him and us.  I want to push aside a young boy that stands between me and the feline (but I don’t). I want a closer look.

The large cat and the guide interact, they know each other. We look at the majestic creature. He looks at us. He lays and rolls in the same way my cat does when she’s feeling secure.

Our guide makes introductions and explains Leonardo, bred for entertainment, was born in a cage. His canine teeth and his claws, pulled out. You can imagine how not having canine’s has effected him, including the facial structure necessary to eat, consequently effecting diet and proper nutrition. Declawing is not recommended (considered abuse) for cats (big or small) and in this case, the careless job leaves the jaguar with pain.

I stay behind as people move on to the next wild creature.  When he lays eyes on me, I am thrilled (to say the least).

Leo, respected and made whole, enjoys a good life these days.

Leonardo’s story points to the value of the Conservation Center.  The facility houses many animals including coyotes, wolves, lions and bears. While the goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animal back into the wild, in the case of some animals (like Leo) where condition does not permit, Southwest Wildlife becomes home.

Back to the studio…This summer, I draw a jaguar.

As I begin setting up a composition, I realize I must consider how to lay in both anatomy and unique markings. I will need to decide how to balance the anatomy and the striking pattern. (I had a similar challenge a few years back when I painted an armadillo.)

The jaguar head is a 16 x 16″ collage and mix media panel. A study of materials, method and subject that will help me lay out a full anatomy study of the grand feline.


The Southwest Wildlife Conservatory is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals. They provide a home-for-life in their accredited sanctuary for animals that cannot be returned to the wild.
For more info and/or donation (they have a wish list)  → Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

eddie in profile, my brain draws conclusions

More on the brain. And my random notes…

  • you use all of your brain, at different times (not just 10%)
  • nerve cells are the basic building block of the brain
  • nerve cells (neurons) generate electrical signals (action potentials) which allow them to transmit information over long distances
  • glial cells (glia) are essential to nervous system function, though mostly their job consists of supporting neurons
  • we don’t really know how many brain cells we have
  • we can never really determine what is going on in someone’s head (only he or she can)
  • left brain controls right side of the body, right brain controls the left, but logic and creativity stem from both hemispheres
  • 1/4 of our brain is connected to our visual perception (can we really know this? i don’t believe so)
  • the visual system is understood better than any other sensory system

I draw Eddie.

I consider the sub-conscious (the unconscious) as I collage a brain, using a city map of El Paso, Texas, into the composition. I focus in on the general vicinity where Eddie spends  much of his youth (Sunset Heights). I choose the ground work to place into his mind/brain. The truth is Eddie could (probably would) choose differently and it might not be the city in which he grew up. It could be something that connects to a particular person, place or thing I know nothing about.

I like how the collage map compositionally sets the 1-10 highway to run from the eye-ball to the back of the brain (occipital lobe). See the red ↓ line, it follows the path of the real optic nerve. I don’t plan this. How does brain science explain serendipity?

This week I listen to Charlie Rose’s The Brain Series. While working on this drawing I listen to The Acting Brain.  

  • The acting brain devoted to movement (the motor system) needs a visual (internal representation) of the outside world (a particular act). The motor system begins with this internal representation. 
In order to act (to move) one (the brain) needs to know where to move. It needs a plan, a decision, a want, as well as a willingness to execute the plan. There is a whole hierarchy of function that must occur in order for one…to act/to direct action/to move (sounds to me like goal setting).
  • The (entire) brain is set up for movement. Really…the entire brain? Did I hear this right? Do I understand correctly?

 

Notes on the Complexity of the Brain, Mixed media on paper 8×8″

I meet Eddie in a ceramic art class in high school. He enjoys careful forming, making and perfecting objects with clay. Between the desire to create, a mechanically inclined and practical sensibility (logic meeting creativity), it’s no wonder he ends up in the engineering field. He (brain and mind) thrives on solving a problem. You understand I draw a conclusion here because only he can say for sure what is true.