About monica

monicaaissamartinez.com

a visually driven post

I wanted the light to be the revelation. It has to do with what we value. I want people to treasure light. – James Turrell


Eye-balls, they’re weird and wonderful, these organs that house vision. I like the form and shape, the simplicity and complexity. And based on many a conversation, I know others enjoy them too.
#thevisual

I didn’t expect to revisit the eye. But I’m looking at the brain and they are one….

Cool fact: Your eyes are the part of your brain that sit outside your skull. Their primary job is to inform you (your brain) through signal, when to wake up and when to sleep.
#sunrisedetectors #sunsetdetectors

At the back of each eye-ball are a layer of various cells. The thin layer ↓ called the retina, is made up of neurons that sense patterns of light carried by photons. This patten travels via the optic nerve, to your brain.
#lightwaves #transduction #electricalsignals #nervousimpulses #neuralsignals

Neural Cells of the Retina

Vision is your ability to detect light patterns.
#electromagneticwaves #nanometers #electromagneticspectrum #wavelengths

Your eye(s) and brain communicate via your optic nerve(s). A conversation between them could go something like this…

Eyes to Brain: I admire the color blue! Do you?
Brain: Yes! Blue light wakes me right up! I also appreciate blue light as it goes darker. And, I enjoy yellow and orange light as it gets brighter too.
Eyes: All of this. Yes!

Basically they’d be talking sunrise and sunset, alertness and sleep. The brain might  continue and clarify how light affects cortisol, heart-rate and hormones.

Everything really starts in the eye. The eye sheds light on the brain which activates all the rest of the cells (every single cell!) in your body.
#circadianclock #circannualclock #entrainable #everysinglecellinyourbody

postscript:  all my posts are visually driven


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

the appendix

Looking up the word appendix in my copy of a “Medical Meanings” glossary (thank you Wright), I am directed to see vermis. (Vermis?) Vermis is the Latin word for worm. (Of course it is!) It continues….Veriform appendix, Latin for addition or supplement, which is stuck on the base of the cecum for no apparent purpose in man but to serve as a seat for appendicitis. (hmmm). Out of familiarity, we seldom use the full name of this little organ; we call it simply the appendix.
And a note… A vermifuge (Latin fugare, to chase away) is an agent that expels worms or similar vermin from the gut.


My previous post, on the ileum, receives a comment from pediatrician, Dr. Betsy Triggs. She writes, Oooh! Please do the nasty little innocent looking troublemaker appendix next. Ileum’s neighbor. 😊

I’m going to stop saying I especially love some particular part of the body (like the appendix), cause it’s getting old. Truth is, I love learning about the whole incredibly complex and connected organism.

And another note: I appreciate my glossary definition of the word autopsy
Autopsy is a misapplied term when used to refer to postmortem examination. The Greek autopsia (auto-, “self,” + opsis, “seeing”) meant, in fact, “seeing oneself.” According to Professor Alexander Code (JAMA. 1965;191:121), for the Greeks this had an even more mystical meaning in the sense of “a contemplative state preceding the vision of God.”

The appendix (study) world as seen under magnification.


I paint a cross section of the appendix and ask Dr. Triggs, for her thoughts on the organ.

She writes, The appendix is now thought to be the repository for the “good gut bacteria” that doesn’t get pooped out when you have diarrhea. Maybe because it’s a tiny little wormy thing with a small Lumen, offset on the cecum (which in itself is a blind pouch off the large intestine) gut bacteria can survive there even when we take antibiotics. It’s such a cool little finger/wormy thing that can flip and be in different positions so making the diagnosis of appendicitis tricky.

Detail

As I read Betsy’s (great visual) description, I note the appendix a dead-end of sorts, or maybe more like a cul-de-sac. Either way, I imagined it to be a hot-spot where bad bacteria collected. I recall reading different areas of the intestine holding different bacteria due to temperature…or something like that. What is the temperature of the appendix (temperature in the appendix)?

Anyway…I want to keep this post short and sweet…perhaps like the appendix.


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

ileum

I do like the word ileum (i-lee-uhm). When I first hear about it, I wonder exactly where this area that holds B12, sits in the body. Eventually, I learn it is the last section (of the 3 sections) of the small intestine (lower right side, pelvic region) before arriving to the large intestine (whew!).

When drawing the gut, I am in the habit of giving the ileum more attention and playful highlight.

Last year, while researching the GI tract, I find a cross section of it (wow!) and know I will eventually paint it. #Now #HereItIs↓

Ileum comes from the Greek eileos and means tightly twisted. Yes, it certainly appears this way.

Note: The GI tract (also called the alimentary canal) is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube that includes mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine and anus.

Here is my  interpretation of a cross section of the distal intestine AKA the ileum. Imagine that, like a hollow tube, you are looking into it. #AMostCoolPerspective

I may go back in and add a few more shapes (fat cells) around it.

A few things…
The ileum absorbs methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin (2 more fun words) AKA vitamin B12. It also absorbs bile salts.
And…I can’t help but think about the microbes that set up house in there too.

The more I draw out the more I draw in… #ACoolEmptyNotSoEmptySpace


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

rip rbg

“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Thinking about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I get out paper, pencils and paints to compose a small drawing. And because I’ve been studying the brain and neurons, I wonder about her…brains. Can we study brains like hers? Do we study brains like hers?

I collage the organ from a Washington DC map.

I honor the woman’s intellect. I honor her voice, her tenacity and her sense of agency.
I honor the outlier. I honor her courage.

RIP RBJ

#VOTE
#GenderEquality #WomensRights #CivilRights


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

see one do one teach one

Video

This week I learn about the methodology See One, Do One, Teach One, especially used in the medical world for teaching and/or learning through direct observation. The process can be applied to most any form of education. It feels particularly natural to the Fine Arts and reminds me of an apprenticeship.

While I did go to art school, some of my best teachers were the ones who let me work in the studio with them.

I was introduced to printmaking by artist Kurt Kemp. Kurt began his teaching career in my last year at UTEP. I needed one final Drawing class and an elective, day and time were issues for me. As luck (and kindness) would have it, he allowed me to sign up for his advanced independant studio classes. I was drawing in the early morning, and ending the evening with printmaking. I’d never printed at that point, though it melded naturally with drawing. Kurt loan me tools. He taught me to get rich black, printed marks using a hand-made mezzotint rocker on a sheet of copper. I can still hear him say Don’t drop it! This one is my own personal rocker. I’ve had it for years (yikes!).

I fell in love with drawing, copper plates, BFK paper, ripped edges, the smell of ink and all things drawing and printmaking (yes, art-making heightens all the senses). And I redirected my studies, 3D to 2D. Eventually attending NMSU for graduate school, I continued printmaking with Spencer Fiddler, whom like Kurt, had at one time worked under the great Mauricio Lasansky.  I watched both of these men make their ink from raw material, both were sensitive to the tarlatan clothe, the inking and the final printing of their copper plates.

But I digress…
I sure didn’t expect to take this trip down memory lane today, nor while creating a quick video on drawing a neuron, a few days back.

Back to drawing…
I rip a piece of heavy duty black drawing paper (deckled edges) and video tape about 34 seconds of the process as I lay in my subject, a neuron. I turn the video off to work freely, hoping to move easy and steady.
(Note: The video, I use as a means to practice focus, quick-decision mark-making, and  loosen up.)

I’m looking to balance the study with both play and accuracy by its final stage.

I stop moving quickly. I fuss with materials, edges and lines. I probably work a little more than an hour to get the first layout. A few more to get the second set up. The next day I work the composition to a final stage (btw…this drawing of a neuron is small!)

I decide the image expresses a control balanced by a loose and playful quality.

Which is probably why I think about Kurt and Spencer today.

My first study above, is a neuron. My smaller, second composition below, done in similar process, is the neuron’s supporting cell called a glial cell.

#BackInTheStudio #It’sBeenAToughSummer #UrBeautifulBrain #LiveAndLearn #SeeOneDoOneTeachOne

making sense of it all

“You, yourself, are the eternal energy which appears as this Universe. You didn’t come into this world; you came out of it.” – Alan Watts


I’m in studio working a portrait of my brother. I am wondering how beingness exits form. I draw the physical expression though it’s the subtle that motivates me.

With that said, my notes
I think about the 5 sense organs and how we experience the physical world. The physical senses include hearing (audition), sight (vision), smell (olfaction),  taste (gustation) and touch (somatosenastion).

The sense organs collect information from outside of the body…directing it…to…inside the body.  The receiver of external signal is the nervous system which sends information to the brain. Consequently one moves in the direction of that which is perceived or one moves away.

As I paint, I consider both the subtle and physical. (There is more to the senses that I won’t get into here.)

Does being enter the physical body, one sense at a time? Does the body light up slow and steady with awareness? Does being exit with each sense that goes out…going off-line…one perception at a time? And then might the infinite, as it receives being, light up?

And my study
The olfactory nerve, the first and shortest of the cranial nerves, supports the sense of smell. Smell connects to taste and also serves the respiratory system.
Note: It is the only cranial nerve, that if damaged, may repair itself.

The olfactory bulb ↓ makes me think of a Q-tip, filled with with sensory neurons.
(Note: The nerve also  plays a role in emotion and memory sending data to the amygdala and hippocampus.)   #ICanSmell

The sense of taste (aided by the sense of smell) is responsible for perception of flavor. Taste buds can be ↓ found on the tongue, palette and throat. Their taste receptor cells (gustatory cells) are triggered by food and/or drink as it dissolves in saliva. I’ve learned about various epithelial cells in the body and here I learn about the epithelium of the tongue which holds the papillae (the small bumps visible to the naked eye).  A tongue has 2,000 – 8,000 taste buds. If one is  damaged, it can be replaced within 48 hours.

Below ↓ is the organ of hearing. I read somewhere, hearing travels with the mind.  I don’t know what this means exactly, but I like thinking they come and go together. Included in my inner ear study are the organs of balance (spool-like shapes ↓ at the ends of the semicircular canals).
(Words I want to keep that connect to this organ: receiver, amplifier, transmitter, electrical, vibration, frequency.) #IHear #IListen (more and more each day)

The eye-ball is the organ of sight and vision. It supports ones ability to see. We use our eyes to look, judge depth and interpret information. Eyes send signals to the brain that can impact hormones, sleep, and various chemicals. #sunrise #sunset
Pupils, because they track information, are a readout of ones internal state (note size of pupil).  The retina is actually a part of your central nervous system (the brain) that sits outside of the skull. #ILook #ISee #IAmVisual

brain cap. eye ball.

There is no one, single sense organ related to touch. If I had to choose (and I don’t) it could be the skin. Is touch one of the first senses to develop? It occurs across the entire body trough receptors in the skin. I focus on the fingertips ↓ because they have a large concentration of nerves. The receptors send signals via spine and lower brain to a strip curving around the cerebral cortex known as somatosensory cortex that I place into the cap. Touch is in the body and in the mind. #ITouch #IFeel

In: Oct 10, 1964. Out: July 8, 2020.
#AWaveOfLightDrawsYouIn #AWaveOfLightDrawsYouOut

My brother would like this portrait of him. I think he’d like the (brain) cap most especially.
#WorkInProgress


First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.

 

peace out brother

“We all shine on…like the moon and the stars and the sun…we all shine on…come on and on and on…” ― John Lennon


I speak to my brother Monday evening, he’s not feeling well, has no appetite and is complaining of dizziness. Tuesday, he sees a doctor (telemedicine) and is prescribed something for vertigo. Doctor’s orders also include he be tested for Covid. By Wednesday morning he is gone. He tests positive for Covid-19, postmortem. (WTF!!)

There is a lot going on for our family. I know we are not alone. There is much going on in our county and in the world.

For now, I work a portrait of my brother because travel is limited and so are burials. It sucks that the family can’t be together. And while I always come to new work with focus, it’s not happening this time.

One of my sisters has a photo of our brother with his New York Yankees baseball cap. He smiles and holds out a peace sign. Puro Chacho, the capture is perfect. I decide to use it.  I don’t know yet if and how the image will translate into a study.

The ground work, a city map of El Paso, focuses on the area where we grew up and where he still hung out.

For a good while now, each time I fly back, he and I make a habit of taking a Sunday afternoon drive.

I lay down the map and recall some of those drives. Chacho enjoys driving, has an excellent sound system and likes loud music. The sound comes down when he wants to point something out to me. I’ve been gone a long time and I know he enjoys re-introducing me to the city. We often look for murals. The streets of El Paso have some fine street art.

In my studio, the dilemma…
My brother is no longer in body. I’m piecing things together and formulating a picture.  I don’t know exactly how to move forward. I’ve never worked this way. I’ll figure it out.

I miss you brother. Way to young to exit. I wish you’d stay’d around longer.
Peace out Chacho.

FYI…Chacho is short for muchacho which means boy in Spanish. He grew up the only muchacho among 5 muchachas.


Pay attention, take care of yourself and others. Stay alive.
And VOTE. We need strong, intelligent and caring leadership.


 

roadside attraction phx

ROADSIDE ATTRACTION, brainchild of ArtFarm PHX and practical art gallery (AKA Patricia Sannit, Chris Jagmin, Lisa Olson and Lani Hudson) takes art (art work and in some cases the art making) outdoors, to be seen by the widest variety and largest number of people, given our current restrictions. Opportunity was created for valley artists, representing different viewpoints and media, to express their diverse voices.

This experimental exhibition not only encourages art experiences in new, unusual and surprising locations, it also allows for a self-directed, drive-by, bike-by, stroll-by, physically  distanced, socially engaged art experience.

Come and go, as you wish!
Info → artists, photos of work, artist statements and location map.

 


Invited early but arriving late.

I spend days (weeks) this summer wondering do I want to teach drawing next semester. I learn Zoom (for on-line art workshop) and Canvas (on-line college teaching). And while I appreciate technology and use it regularly, organizing this current phase in time sometimes feels confusing and unnatural.

Listening to a neuroscience IGTV (thanks Huberman Lab), I come to understand human progress as the consequence of 2 things:  neuroplasticity (brain and nervous system’s ability to change in response to experience) and technology development (build and create new things that allow us to extend beyond our own biological limitations).

Nueroplasticity reflects changes and connections between neurons (nerve cells). Nerve cells do not connect directly they have a space between them called a synapse (chemicals and electricity).

I know that as an adult, if I want to roll with change I need focused attention (what I want and/or how I want to feel), a sense of urgency (so apropos to the time) and rest (focus on/focus off).

Enter: Roadside Attraction invitation…and all I can think is that I’ve wanted to paint one of our perimeter walls (so out of my comfort zone).

I read an article about bee swarms and how they are like a giant brain with each individual bee behaving like a neuron in the human brain. #ImPaintingBees

FYI…bees are eusocial flying insects. #SocialOrganization

In the days that follow I complete my Canvas training while breaking to make stencils and begin painting bees. It doesn’t matter that it’s June in Phoenix. I work in afternoon shade as neighbors drive by offering a nod and/or a thumbs up. A few want to paint bees on their perimeter wall (I offer my stencils).

I can’t help but think of Jackson Pollock as I use black and gold house paint and brushes. I know why action painting is likened to dance.
The wall buzzes with form and movement…heading towards center.

Thanks Roadside Attraction…I needed this. #EverythingsConnected

#PhysicallyDistancedSociallyEngaged #ItsAllAnArtSpace
#RoadsideattrationPHX #MonicaAissaMartinez


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

TCA Draw-A-Thon 2020

Tempe Center for the Arts will be hosting their annual Draw-A-Thon.
This year it’s going virtual. A live, on-line, real-time event!
12 Hours/12 Artists
RSVPFacebook Live


Next weekend, June 6th at 9am, Michelle Dock, Gallery Director at TCA, will host an Exquisite Corpse Workshop. Last week she invited Mary, Carolyn and myself to draw one (for fun).

In general, I keep to the size of the paper Michelle suggests. And while she notes a light-weight paper, one can fold, works best, I prefer a heavy duty sheet of drawing paper (which means we can’t fold it). Ok, I want 2 sheets of drawing paper (can’t fold either).

I rip an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of BFK white and an 8″x10″ sheet of Arches Black.
I take the direction of exquisite corpse very literal and start drawing. I cover my area and pass it on to Mary who works her area, followed and completed by Carolyn.

Can you tell who does what?
What’s your best guess for how much time we take with each small drawing?

face mask, microbes and devil’s tail

Mary and Carolyn both like the paper and choose the medium they are familiar with.
Yes, we each enjoy the drawing!

Interested in making an one? Join Michelle Dock next Saturday at 9, for her workshop. You have plenty of time to gather up family or friends and your drawing material.

Should you want to experience other approaches to drawing (Hey! DRAW all day!), follow the link to the list of workshops and the artists involved  → EVENT SCHEDULE  (includes morning, mid-day, ffternoon/evening)

WHO: TEMPE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
WHAT: DRAW-A-THON
12 Artist/12 Hours
WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 8am-8pm
WHERE:  TCA is coming to you! →  Facebook Live  RSVP

All levels, all experience, all ages welcome! Use phone, I-pad or computer. And share your drawings with the hashtag #tempearts #GalleryAtTCA #DrawAThon

OH HEY! They have a free coloring book for you to download! My coyote is in there along with other cool images from artists near you. → PDF

#gottahaveart

ahh…life

Ahh, mother. Ahh, infant. Ahh, life.

Last Fall, while working to understand the microbiome and its relationship to obesity, I knew it was in the cards that I’d focus on a neonatal study and breastfeeding (among other things).

I listen to podcasts as I paint. My drawing paper is a good place to note key points. #TheBodyIsPolitcal

I’ve learned to consider mother’s milk as food, medicine and signal (thanks to Katie Hinde and → Mammals Suck…Milk!).  This is complicated stuff (I say this a lot lately). I’m sharing general notes to explain my direction and include a few links for the science.

So much happens behind the scenes, when mother feeds child. It seems somewhat multi-leveled and maybe multi-dimensional (I don’t mean the latter to read esoteric but admit I like implication). I know breastfeeding shapes babies immune system. I learn it shapes the brain, influences emotion and behavior, and more clearly I understand breast milk feeds (gut) microbes.

My representation of the structure of a lactating breast includes secretory lobules, alveoli, ducts, fat and connective tissue ↑. I circle and magnify area to emphasize the focus. Isolating and highlighting ↓ epithelial layer (I like these cells!), I note milk lipid droplets and casein (And I wonder if the same animal protein when added to pigment becomes my Casein paint!)

I read oxytocin makes muscle cells contract and prolactin support the milk secreting cells.

Stem Cells

I learn human breast milk contains (non-invasive) pluripotent ↑ stem cells → mammalssuckmilk. .

While initially I plan to only draw the intestine, I recall babies have a large (way large!) #ThymusGland. It enters composition as do heart and lungs. And I always include the mighty #Liver.

Mother’s breast milk is living. It is both nourishment (calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium…etc) and hydration. And if I understand correctly…each and every time (wow) mother feeds baby, her milk satisfies the child’s needs at that particular moment in time.

Baby’s spit/saliva carries a signal as it washes ↑ back up into mother’s breast where receptors pick it up. Communication via fluids…you can imagine the benefit to a building immune system ↓. (Breast milk mixed with baby saliva generates hydrogen peroxide → H2O2  )

I don’t forget (I wrote about them before) the human milk oligosaccharides ↑ (HMO’s), the complex carbohydrates unique to human milk that baby cannot absorb. Reminder: HMO’s act as fertilizer for populating gut microbes. (fucosyllactose component of oligosaccharide feed bifidobacteria)
#IntestinalFlora #GutEcosystem #Microbiome #ImUnderstandingSymbiosis!

I go back to my desktop notes to make sure I’ve included particulars in the post. While there’s more to the artwork, I repeat and emphasize…the relationship between newborn and mother is multi-dimensional.
#ILoveMitochondria

A woman’s body. Will continue. Holding the life.

While painting this study, I read and listen to Katie Hinde, whose work was introduced to me by Dr Joe Alcock.
→ TEDWomen What we don’t know about mother’s milk
→ Blog  Mammals Suck… Milk!


This post is dedicated to my sister who lives in Connecticut. Analissa had her first baby   just as the country went into physical-distancing. I hope to meet my ↓ nephew before too long. In the meantime, I text her when I learn a fun fact.

Nephew Roberto AKA Tito

And to my neighbor Amy, mom to 4 week old Hailey (this Portrait of…).

A few years back after having her first baby, Amy came over carrying several of her text books on anatomy, physiology and microbiology, which she left for me to use. They’re heavy! (I use them regularly.)


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

cadavre exquis (in physical distance mode)

Warming up to draw an exquisite corpse AKA exquisite cadaver, originally known as cadavre exquis. The method of working is a technique invented by the surrealists in the 1920’s. Shout out to #AndréBreton!

I do believe I defeat the point (though not the one that moves to create the line) of working an exquisite corpse when I practice solo this oh-too-fast-for-me sketch. You’re looking at the outcome of 90 seconds or less.

Visual Arts Coordinator Michelle Dock, contacts me interested in a sample study of an exquisite corpse made by 3 artists. She’s in planning for the Tempe Center for the Arts annual Draw-A-Thon 2020 this June. This year workshops will all be virtual.

After completing my own single, small, ↑  practice sketch to see if I can work quick and reference-free, I take a clean  8×11″ piece of paper and measure out 3 even horizontal folds. I choose and draw into the middle space. I plan to deliver the 1/3 completed composition to Mary Shindell tomorrow and then eventually Carolyn Lavender will receive it. They’ll each draw into a section. This is collaboration in the time of a pandemic.

Three women who draw. Careful organizers of space. Letting go of order (creating a new order).

Mary’s easy, she’s done this before. Carolyn hesitates when I ask. I suspect it could be fun. I’ll share the result with you and give you more info about Michelle’s workshop soon.

Did I cheat by practicing? This is as spontaneous as I have ever been in the studio, I broke a few habits, I like it and I’ll be doing it again.

#Fluid #Unpredictable #SequencedCollaboration #VirtualSurrealism


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

look, see, teach / look, see, learn

The act of drawing remains a fundamental means to translate, document, record and analyse the worlds we inhabit. The role of drawing in education remains critical, and not just to the creative disciplines in art and design for which it is foundational.*


I am detailing the above work when I receive something in my Canvas inbox from a student taking Anatomy and Physiology 201. I don’t know the sender but clearly she attends the college where I teach drawing in the Fine Arts department, so I don’t hesitate to open the email.

The message is sent to only a few people and includes an image file of a human brain. It appears she needs help identifying particular areas.

Confused to receive the email, I soon realize she’s thinking I can be of help to her. I appreciate understanding this and I also like knowing the one response she did get…is correct.

Someone else sends her an on-line course book. I take the opportunity to look through it. It seems like another world from what I teach. (But is it?)
#Look #See #AndLearn


I’m thinking…
about next Fall and whether I will return to PC to teach drawing. Right now  I don’t know about a full semester of on-line drawing instruction.
#Observation #HandsOn 

*Why drawing needs to be a curriculum essential by Anita Taylor


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

portrait of hailey (study of a holobiont?)

Holobiont. I like this word. I learned it a few years ago and wrote it down for future use.
My notes…
Holo 
is a prefix meaning whole, entire, complete. It also means safe and sound.
Biont is a discrete unit of living matter, animate thing, living thing. A living or once living entity (…a once living entity?!).

My take (at the time)…
Holobiont – Whole. A distinct and complete unit of living matter.
Note: safe and sound.


Amy and Reed birthed a baby girl last month. You might imagine a delivery during a pandemic could be a natural concern for any parent.  Not only were people social distancing but hospitals were setting up new guidelines. Would Amy deliver alone? Would Reed be allowed in the delivery room?

Wednesday afternoon, when under normal circumstances I’d be teaching and my husband would be out working, we’re both home. Sirens sound in the distance and then, Wow! That’s close! Soon we hear a loud-truck-engine-pulling-up-in-front-of-the-house-kind-of-too-close sound.

First to arrive was the firetruck. I went outside when it looked as though an ambulance might be backing up onto our front lawn.

Tara, another neighbor also home, came quickly over. Excited, she’s wondering out loud if Amy is in labor. Within moments, rising above all the commotion, surfaces the real time marking of a breath, the high-pitched cry. (Amy’s words are…like a pterodactyl screech.)

Reed exits his house with a sort of raw focus steaming out of him. (BTW, Reed’s not an MD.) He’s got…stuff…on his hands (later I would note he had stuff all the way up his arms and sleeves). He is explaining Amy went into labor and he delivered the baby on their dining room floor. Pacing with open and expressive arms he’s describing his experience. Truly, he’s telling his point of view. (This is baby #2 and he is recalling details he picked up during delivery #1, 2 yrs ago.)

Fascinated with particulars about the umbilical cord, I knew then I’d be painting Hailey. Reed didn’t know anything about cutting the cord. Paramedics arrived in time to deal with it.  He also noted Cali, his dog, present and at one point looking over his shoulder.

Meanwhile Amy and freshly born baby got wheeled out of the house on a gurney.  She looked peaceful, baby looked calm. Well…there was a little bit of blood here and there but all in all, mother and daughter appeared tranquil. (Things are clarified when talking to Amy a few days later.)

I could hear Tara wishing she could have delivered the baby (cuz she’s trained). I’m wishing I had my camera with me as I walked over to look at Amy and baby now both in the ambulance.

Hailey entered the world on April 8, 2020 at 2:38, weighing 7lbs and 13oz. I guess she took control of things, making sure mom and dad were together during her delivery.

It was a good time to be reminded that truly we have no control and also that life continues…


I always intended to draw a newborn. And as luck would have it, one presented only yards from me. I had the pleasure of photographing Hailey a few days later, and then organizing the start of new work.

I’m curious about the placenta…I’m curious about breastfeeding and breast milk (as food, medicine and signal) …

I plan to include members of the microbial community organizing in the gut.
FYI. In biology a holobiont is combination of host, plus all the resident microbes that live in it and on it.

intestinal epithileum. when exactly do the microbes show up?

Getting clear on my thoughts:
Keeping in mind the part of the definition of holobiont that I held…the safe and sound part. I consider those members of the microbial world that don’t work to benefit their host. I can call this study anything I want and it would be interesting conversation, but I’m not sure anymore.

I know microbes influence an environment but at what point do microbes start to actually control an environment?

In light of current times….it’s an interesting question for a number of reasons. #TheWorldIsStillSocialDistancing #TheEbbAndFlow


Welcome to the world Hailey! Hey Lily, You have a little sister.

Portrait of Hailey, work in progress.

Hey Cali! (family dog) for the record, you bring a diversity that benefits everyone.


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ