the pelvic bowl

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It looks like a bowl, my husband says as my neighbor Tara, a Pelvic Floor Specialist, hands him a pelvis anatomy model. She’s lending it to me for the weekend.

I say to him In fact,  it is called the pelvic bowlEddie. He watches on as Tara pulls it all apart and puts it’s all back together, identifying anatomy as she reconstructs the model.

Aren’t we perfectly designed? I say as I watch them.

My recent drawing begins with an outline of the bones of a pelvis (on the front side).  I place into it uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Only then do I decide to bring in the lower spine, the psoas muscles, and eventually the diaphragm.

This weekend I work the back of the drawing ↓ and complete the composition. Highlighting the reproductive system – I’m right back where I started.  The two-sided mixed-media drawing  basically depicts the core of the female body.

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completed back side of drawing 24 x 18″ mixed media

Do you need the model again?, Tara asks. Thanks, I’m complete, I respond.

With this study I learn more about menstruation, conception, pregnancy and menopause. With Tara’s help I learn about hormones, muscles, nerves and the value of breath work.

We are so perfectly designed. You are so perfectly designed. Embody this.

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More about Tara and her practice (btw – she offers lots of practical information) →  pelvicfloorspecialist.com.


Side note:
Contacted by Carmencita from California who’ll be using an early stage of this drawing (front side) to promote a staging of That Takes Ovaries! Bold Females and their Brazen Acts. The performance will raise funds for Myalgic Encephelomyolitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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the female reproductive system

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I look at the structure of the female reproductive system for a long time. Draw, erase, re-draw, erase again – parts come and go as I place the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix and vagina into the pelvic bowl. I can’t help but wonder if the body is truly as symmetrical as medical illustration would suggest. Are things evenly balanced? It’s just a thought.

It surprises me to learn the uterus, in general, has not been studied separate from its role in child-bearing. The uterus is seen as someone else’s potential home and valued when it can potentially play that role, says Christine Northrup MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s WisdomAfter the uterus’s childbearing function has been completed or when a woman chooses not to have a child, modern medicine considers the uterus to have no inherent value. The Ovaries are viewed in the same way.

In truth the uterus supports hormonal regulation, sexual satisfaction, and bowel and bladder function. Removal is not advisable unless absolutely necessary. 

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The uterus is held in place by endopelvic fascia or ligaments.

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aligning the pelvis and the muscles

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ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vaginal canal

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blood supply – arteries

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blood supply – veins

The system is remarkable: life-giving, life-enhancing, curvilinear, expansive, contractive, cyclical, beautifully active.

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added muscle and lymphatic system

Energetically speaking the uterus sits in the area of the Hara (lower belly body center) which holds power, passion and creativity. It is also known as the Dantian or the gate of origin, the Ren Mai, translating to Conception Vessel. It is the space where life begins. Even after a hysterectomy (partial or full) the space holds energy.

Caroline Myss, PhD, in Anatomy of the Spirit, writes about the area and its energetic connection to the power of choice. Choice is born out of opposites, she notes, duality is forever challenging us to make choices in a world of opposing sides. Managing the power of choice, with all its creative and spiritual implications is the essence of human experience. Choice is the process of creation itself.

Every woman can and should ask and answer for themselves – What am I giving birth to? What life am I creating?


I begin the post noting how carefully I look at the female reproductive system. Naturally I consider the energy of current culture. It’s no coincidence that the first week of the new year I choose to focus on the female reproductive system.

Support Planned Parenthood (and other organizations like it). It offers sexual and reproductive health services including health care and sex education, to millions of women, men and young people world-wide.
Other services they provide :

  • anemia testing
  • cholesterol screening
  • diabetes screening
  • physical exams, including for employment and sports
  • flu vaccines
  • help with quitting smoking
  • high blood pressure screening
  • tetanus vaccines
  • thyroid screening

Work to make health care and education accessible and affordable.

where art and science intersect

The title to this post is the direction I plan to take a 7-minute talk yesterday.  I discuss both art and science, but I never do say they intersect in my studio – every single day. It’s true. They do.

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I am among 4 people Michelle Dock invites to take part in a STEAM themed panel for the annual AZ SciTech conference, held at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. The general focus for the conference is STEM. I am there to bring ART into the conversation.

Michelle makes introductions. I walk center stage and greet the audience ready to begin -and the only person in my mind, at that moment, is Leonard Da Vinci. I let go of my opening line and talk about him. He designed a tank, a submarine, a flying machine and he brings perspective into the picture plane. He covers all the areas of STEM before STEM even exists. And he certainly covers STEAM. He is the archetypal Renaissance man, I say to the audience.

I don’t plan to begin my talk with Leonardo, but it feels right. Truth is, along with old and new medical illustration books, microscopic photographs and videos – his anatomy study is always somewhere on my drawing table.

From Leonardo I return to the 21st century and introduce my Cell/Map of Phoenix (no photo) and naturally follow with the recently completed Portrait of Sophie, a Study of Trisomy 21. Cell structure, the nucleus, chromosomes, DNA and genes are the connecting threads. I look at her for a good while before I can say anything. I’m struck by how large and bright the form stands on the screen in front of me.

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And because I have two minutes to spare, I gather my thoughts and end with my work on mylar,  Anatomy of the Thorax (anterior and posterior view),  influenced by a Gunther von Hagens’ dissection. I refer to him as the Body World’s guy. I can tell by their reaction, the audience knows who he is.  Do they know he’s influenced by Rembrandt? Gunther always appears in public with a fedora, in honor of the painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicloaes Tulip.

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Can someone tell me why it isn’t STEAM all the time? Art is a powerful language communicating via line, color, texture, form, repetition and all the other elements of design. It enters into all the other fields. If Leonardo was alive today, it would be no other way. Maybe that’s why he takes over my brain…

So … Where do art and science intersect? In my studio, on my drawing table, on my paper and canvas – each and everyday!

Also on the panel:
Michelle Dock, Tempe Center for the Arts (Moderator)
Catyana Falsetti (Forensic Artist)
Dianne Hansford, PhD (Special Modeling)
Konrad Rykaczewski, PhD (Biomimicry)


You have a few more days to catch STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) at the Tempe Center for the Arts. It closes this Saturday, Sept 17th.

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.

 

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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no woman is an island

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.
Rumi

 


I have worked on this commission for most of the last 3 weeks. Normally I don’t do this kind of work that fast, I tell Terri yesterday when I deliver the completed, though unframed, large work on paper. I enjoyed it and I struggled with it. In general my drawing is changing, I am including much more information, if I can figure it out.

There are things about this composition I don’t normally set up to do – like a smiling face. Because I told Terri to stand in a natural way and she stood firm, bright-eyed, strong, chin up and she smiled, I worked very hard to get the face just right – eyes, smile and all.

Here are a few progressive shots of it:

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general sketch

 

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refinement and muscle structure

 

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anatomy goes in

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completed head includes cranial nerves in and out the head

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I wish I could take that, Terri points to all the internal anatomy in the artwork, and place it here, inside me – she points to her chest. It came from you, I say as I laugh. She nods and repeats herself, I wish I could bring that inside me, now.  That’s a great thing to hear.

This is an anatomy study , it’s a study of an energetic system, it’s Terri. And Terri has brain cancer.

I ask if she is okay with me sharing all this. She nods her head – Yes, I am. I ask a few more times. I feel protective. But whom am I protecting, I wonder. Terri is accepting of her life. Her son, who is present, agrees – she’s accepting it all!  Terri is forthcoming about where she finds herself, and she’s at peace. I see it in her expression. I hear it in her voice. She tells me she’s had 3 other cancers – of the colon, in the sacrum, in the lungs, and now – the brain.

I consider the physical body a lot these days, as I immerse myself in these anatomy studies. The body serves a great purpose, it holds the spirit. As human beings we live and connect with it and through it.

I prefer to use medical terminology when I title a work. This could be different, it is a human body, a female front body, from head to hips. It is a  Study of a Human Female Body, Anterior View. But I am thinking of another title, a sub-title, something like –  Inside me, Inside you.

Thanks again Terri. It’s been some assignment to study your spirit – strong-willed and so directed.

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The work is casein, gesso and graphite on cream Arches paper, 36″ x 25″


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

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The art in this post connects to another work completed in 2012. Terri and Patricaia traveled to Italy recently and upon their return, drove to California and married.

a jerusalem cricket

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This bug is neither from Jerusalem nor is it related to a cricket. It is found across the western United States and Mexico. Years ago I met one in the Texas desert. It jumped, I ran. In Spanish it is called Niño de la Tierra – which translates to Child of the Earth. The one I met had a lighter colored head, more truly like a baby. This one is darker.  They are also known as Potato Bugs. They have many Navajo names that all refer to the insects head:

c’ic’in lici (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull”
c’os bic’ic lici (Chʼosh bitsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull bug”
c’ic’in lici’ I coh (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼítsoh) “big red-skull”
wo se c’ini or rositsini or yo sic’ini (Wóó tsiitsʼiin/Yaaʼ tsiitsʼiiní) “skull insect”

While the nocturnal insect has strong mandibles it has a supposed meek disposition. It may bite if threatened – but no worry, the bite is not venomous.

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I think my almost complete painting resembles Talavera pottery. Somehow it goes from creepy (above) to sweet (below). I had the similar challenge with this bug as I had with the Palo Verde Beetle.  I work at keeping translucent what should really be darker  and opaque – so one could still note the anatomy. I may go darker if I find a balance.

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Every summer for the last few years, I spend a week doing a drawing a day. This year I focus on a series of small bug works. The time line is more like a bug a week. I intended to only make four, but as bugs came my way (via friends) I kept thinking – only one more. I enjoyed the learning experience so much I doubled the plan.

Some of my bugs will show at the i.d.e.a. Museum in an invitational  titled Jeepers Creepers – Bugs in Art Exhibition. The show opens in October and will be in partnership with the ASU natural history entomology collection.

This Jerusalem Cricket is commissioned by Liz Casebolt and her cat Charlie Goodyear. Liz was my neighbor here in Phoenix. She now lives in Burbank – hence the AZ and CA maps in the background of the artwork.

Thanks Liz –  No Woman is an Island.