sound + light = creation

A new work is in progress. I’m painting a newborn, more specific, a preterm baby.

martinez_canvas

Organizing this study, I began with one focus, shifted to another, and then still another.
 Finally, I  started painting at what was supposed to be the bottom of the composition, only to eventually make it the top.

When this idea presented itself in October, I’d been spending so much of my time in my head (Pun intended, I was trying to lay out neuron structure). When I got done, I was so ready for some grounding. In this way, I guess it’s natural to land in conception (it couldn’t be that complicated, I thought. Ha!).
#It’sComplicated

At some point, I wondered if I could imply those that had come before. It felt natural to want to indicate those that protect and guide. I wanted ancestral presence. #biological #intellectual #emotional

I contacted Gila, a friend who is a Yoga and massage therapist, as well as a doula. We have a fun conversation. I returned to the studio and worked an ovum onto the bottom of my canvas. #grounding

This human reproductive cell ↓ is one of the largest single cells in the body. It’s much bigger than the sperm (about 10,000x larger). And it holds loads of mitochondria.

Ovum

Gila commented on the ovum …..as a sound/vibration she sings a song to the sperm, which is the carrier of light : sound + light = creation 👼 that’s how the universe started and we are the same ☯️🌟🙏

Sperm…carrier of light.

Meanwhile, I’m reading sperm cells are haploid (single set of unpaired chromosomes). This ↑ haploid will connect to the egg, also a haploid. (Sperm’s midsection holds lots of mitochondria too!) In humans, only their egg and sperm cells are haploid. Together, egg and sperm will form a diploid. #Sound+Light=Creation

Things get more interesting as I learn about cortical reaction, a process preventing any other sperm (other than the1) from fusing with the 1 egg. #GotAllMystical #TheCreativeProcess

1 Sperm (of about 250-280 million) meets 1 (largest cell in the human body, released once a month during ovulation) egg.

I connected with my friend Dominique who is a cancer biologist. She clarified: Sperm and ova are haploid, germinal cells. They undergo a special cell division called meiosis, that renders them haploid. As soon as fertilization takes place that egg and all the subsequent cells are diploid, as you point out in humans that means 46 chromosomes.

It’s complicated. I wanted to redirect. 

Meiosis is very important, Dominque continued, because the 4 daughter cells each have independently assorted chromosomes. Like shuffling a deck of cards. One way to ensure a random assortment of genes, the other way is recombination which also takes place during meiosis!!! 

Above the ovum and sperm cells is where I layout meiosis.
Including the 4 daughter cells!

O.k. I’m in here! What about mitosis, Dominque?

Mitosis happens when any plant or animal cell divides. It has a series of steps in which chromosomes are copied and condense as they become tightly coiled. This allows them to them to pair up and align in the center of the cell. Then there are little organelles called the centrioles, these move to opposite sides of the cell and produce the spindle. Think of them as making thin filaments like spider webs that attach to the center of the chromosomes, called centromeres. And now comes the magic trick: half of the copied chromosomes are pulled towards each centriole, exactly half. Then the cell divides and each daughter cell has a full genetic instructions for its function!!!

I like magic!

Mitosis

Well…ok. I’m rolling now…

And without anymore delay, I’d like you to meet Vañya Victoria Jacquez.

I’m here! I’m here!

Vanya made her appearance at 32 weeks. Jeorgina (mom, who happens to be a Pediatric ICU nurse) had a C-section and tells me Vanya came out screaming! Which I gathered was a good thing.

Vanya is Victor’s (my nephew) and Jeorgina’s daughter. Tomorrow she will celebrate 3 months!
Congratulations Jeorgina and Victor. Clearly, your little girl was eager and ready. #soonerratherthanlater

Let’s see where this composition takes me next…
#workinprogress


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

no woman is an island

A few years back, curious about mula bandha, I asked Tara, a neighbor, to tell me about the area I understood as an important root lock. In my many years of Yoga practice, I’d studied the 3 bandhas: jalandhara bandha (chin lock), uddiyana bandha (stomach lock) and mula bandha, in which muscles are contracted at the center of the perineum. Tara was not a Yogi but was (and still is) a pelvic floor specialist.

We had an informative conversation about the general pelvic floor as well as the center of the pelvic floor, the perineum. I had no plan to paint these compositions until the next day when she brought a medical model for me to better understand. ↑  (Ps. Since then she’s brought even more interesting models to my studio that have influenced various works.)


Fast forward to this year, late October, when Tara asks if she can drop over and see pelvic art.
Sure, I say, but I’ll have to look for the them, give me a bit.

I find the artwork and invite her over the next day.
I show her each 2-sided study. There are 2 different works, one is female and one is male.
One side of each study shows muscles and nerves while the other side includes bones of the pelvis. Hanging in space, I want the viewer to be able to walk around each piece and note the layers.

Pelvic Floor Female : Inferior View
Pelvic Floor Male : Inferior View

Tara looks at them and without hesitation says she wants them.
I’m getting a new office and I want these in it!

And because they are 2-sided, she wants to know how she might hang them.
You have choices, Tara! And quality of light matters too.

Side by side as a horizontal statement.
One above the other as vertical presentation.

When everything is said and done with the artwork, naturally Tara and I talk anatomy. I want to understand more about how male and female pelvic floor’s differ. While there are differences in the male and female pelvis, Tara notes, there are not as many as one might think. She gets excited with explaining details (I think she should always carry a dry eraser board), Females, as compared to males, have 2 extra pelvic floor muscles, the compressor urethrae and sphincter urethrovaginalis! She goes on to explain. (And I should always carry a pen and notebook) #knowyourbody

To learn more about Tara and her work (she has lots of Q and A sections on her site)
go to → pelvicfloorspecialist.com

Again, thank you Tara! This work found a perfect home!


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

©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

circle of willis / blood vessels of the brain

I’ve wanted to draw the Circle of Willis ever since I heard the name of this area of the brain.

Friday, I got going on what I thought was going to be a quick study. One thing led to another and I ended up with a network of the brain’s blood vessels. #lovelylinework

This weekend I painted the study.

Initially the composition was to be black and white (like an MRI). I got out my gesso, both the black and the white, 2 various shades of cadmium red, and then out came the gold ink. I brought gold in because as I drew out details and thought about the brain and it’s blood supply, I worked in wonder of life processes.

I recalled a conversation with my father, who years ago, suggested I stay away from using gold to indicate the precious or the sacred. He thought it too easy a solution. I agreed with him then and maybe sometimes, I still agree with him today.

Circle of Willis: Circle comes from the Latin circulus, diminutive of circus ( a little ring!). Latin circus relates to Greek kirkos, circle or ring. The Circle of Willis is named after Thomas Willis, father of neurology. The area, located at the base of the brain, supplies oxygenated blood to over 80% of the cerebrum. (It’s not the focal point here, but it is the starting point.)

Dear dad, about the the gold ink…It came in at the very end, after a lot of work and a lot of thought. Nothing easy about it. It’s so subtle, you could miss it if I hadn’t said anything about it.
#urbeautifulbrain #circleofwillis #life


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

matter and memory

“He who installs himself in becoming sees in duration the very life of things, the fundamental reality.”


I begin this study of my father in 2015. The work first exhibits in 2017, at the University of Arizona, School of Medicine, in downtown Phoenix. And it shows again in the summer of 2018, for an art exhibition/summer artist residency, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

This week I find myself adding 3 new details to the composition. Next time it shows, it will be a little different. #NothingInStasis

When I start this work, dad is experiencing changes in his health. He takes a fall and because he describes how he tucks and rolls, I don’t worry too much. (Apparently he learned to tuck and roll while playing high-school football. I had no idea dad played football!)

Another fall causes my father to stop his daily swimming practice. Something feels different after this one. (In my childhood, dad was a summer lifeguard. He enjoyed swimming for as long as I can remember. My siblings and I still share memories of our summers at the pool.) Dad never returns to swimming.

Today, I better understand how changes in one’s health can signal changes in one’s brain. As covered in previous posts, dad is eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Detail of some organs of balance in the composition.

Considering my father didn’t care to be photographed, he was open and easy with all the prep work necessary for this artwork. Frankly, he was much more comfortable than I, with the whole process. I remember him smiling for all the shots. If you knew my dad, he didn’t usually smile for photographs (he made faces). I sensed his respect for my work and I suspect he enjoyed being a part of it.

I add a coronavirus to the composition. Dad tested positive though remained asymptomatic until he tested negative.

So…
Dad left the planet last August. The medical examiner determined cause of death as Alzheimer’s Disease. And while there is truth to this, I think the death certificate should also note some complications ↑ due to Covid-19.

This week I found a book my father gifted me, titled Matter and Memory, by Henri Bergson.  Dad, always the avid reader, was a thinker and true educator. He particularly enjoyed talking philosophy. (It’s a complicated read. I have yet to finish it.)

Looking back, I recall the look on dad’s face when he saw the title of my first solo exhibit, in 1998, was élan vital (a phrase coined by Bergson in 1907). He was pleasantly surprised and though I should not have been, I was surprised he knew Bergson’s writing (Of course he did!). We enjoyed conversation that weekend of the opening, breaking down impulse, current, vital force, vital impetus…etc.

One of my last memories includes time with my father last Christmas (pre-pandemic). I bought him a small puzzle of the United States (For a short time in his life, he taught history).

Dad, where is Texas?
He points, Right here.
Put it in its place.
What’s to the west of Texas?
New Mexico! You lived there!
Yes, I did! Where’s New Mexico? He picks up the piece.
Where does it go? He points.
Fit it in dad. 

We move through the puzzle, one state at a time, both of us enjoying the process. When we are done, he’s happy and tired.

And 2 more additions to the study:
During my summer residency (back in 2018), I learn mitochondrial dysfunction appears to be a trigger for AD. I consider adding one. Yesterday, I paint this powerhouse of the cell into the composition.

These days, I’m learning about neurotransmitters. I learn about acetylcholine and cholinergic neurons ↓ and their connection to AD and add what I believe will be the final detail.

…My father left the planet in early August, ten days before my birthday. He lived a full and happy life. He was curious, thoughtful.

Dad, you are one cool guy! #UrBeautifulBrain

Still and curious. Continuing to learn.

#ProcessPhilosophy #NothingInStasis
#Motion #Change #Evolution
#VitalForce #CreativePrinciple


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

aaron in profile

Michelle enjoys describing Aaron (Re: Aaronisms), sharing the good and fun, the solid and creative.
I take a highlighter, pulling some details to compose this portrait/brain study.

Manager at SRP / Load research. 
Aaron loves statistics, numbers and spread sheets.

(I think: [Electrical] Power. Structure. Coordinate. Organizing the disorganized.)

Mellow and methodical. Business and economics.
Sarcastic, patient and loving.
Fantastic dad!
Baseball and basketball. Golfer 
and jogger.
(I think: Balanced)

Loves classic rock. Remembers song lyrics, band info and music trivia (like no one else!) He learned to play guitar and base guitar as an adult and was in a garage band.
(Ahhh, music!! Creativity connecting numbers and structure.)

I isolate numbers, music, movement and the electrical…

 

I make connections to detail and color another beautiful brain.

  • Prefrontal cortex – expectation and fulfillment ( in work and in play).
  • Motor Cortex – Tap, tap tap, bring on the dancing and support of athletic nature.
  • Sensory Cortex – Tactile. Feedback. Feel and know those guitar strings (And maybe the band members and audience – but I speculate).
  • Auditory Cortex – Perception and analysis. Processing tone, sound, chords and maybe all those numbers!
  • Visual Cortex  – Look, see, read the music. Observation in general includes physical movement and working a spread sheet.
  • Cerebellum –  E-motion/music/movement.  Activity!

Portrait of Aaron, Mixed media collage on paper

Aaron, I also hear you’re a hard worker who is dedicated to your family.
#BeautifulBrain #GoodMan #Music #Numbers


#NoWomanIsAnIsland
Thank you Michelle! Thank you Aaron!

→ Portrait of Michelle


©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

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

medulla oblongata

This last week, in the studio, I layout another brain (inferior view) including brainstem and cerebellum. Today I add cranial nerves.

I think about Lester, a teacher.

Looking for my notes of his exact words, I don’t find them. Though I can recall the tone and pace as he said…Spirit enters the body at the medulla (pause) oblongata.

I’ve drawn the brain stem so many times in the last few years and only now do I feel the need to pinpoint the medulla. One could think I’d know…because it’s the area where the tenth cranial nerve, aka, the vagus nerve, exits the brain. The vagus nerve, not only the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and hence called the wandering nerve, is a favorite.

The medulla oblongata is the lower half of the brain stem connecting to the spinal cord.
I can talk science…but won’t. I can talk life-force energy…not now. Keeping it simple.

Physical body. Subtle body.
Connect.

All the deep breaths and the stillness that comes with them.
Making sense. 


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

histology of the gut, horror vacui at its finest

Rafting the Colorado River a couple of years back, I remember looking at the surrounding walls of the magnificent Grand Canyon. Moving deeper into it, all the while wondering to which organ in the body could I compare the environment. You know … if one day I was to draw on the experience.

Interestingly, more than half the people on the trip were medical professionals. Daily conversation allowed for a variety of responses… lymphatic system, kidneys, adrenals…etc.

I was thinking intestine, more specifically large intestine. If I was there today it could be the entire digestive system.


The last few weeks, I’ve put the portrait of Veronica aside to work a painting for an invitational exhibition. The small study helps me to work out an area of the larger portrait drawing where I struggle.

Collaging a map (of the Grand Canyon) onto canvas, I think about the topography of the GI tract. And looking at histology of the gut, I think horror vacui at its finest!

These multi-colored and multi-finger like ↑ forms are my version of enterocytes.
What: Enterocyte (a cell)
How and Where:  Line up and form intestinal epithelium, (inner surface of the intestine).
Think barrier, absorbing beneficial stuff (like sodium, calcium, magnesium, zinc…B12…water…etc…so much more than this but I want record of a few things).
And they restrict entry of harmful stuff (like microbes/pathogens and toxins).
They have an endocrine role (secrete hormones).

Can you tell my interpretation ↑ of this structure of tissues, in the abdominal cavity, hints at gut inflammation? Note the abdominal fat (visceral fat at top and bottom edge) also forms a barrier (surrounds and seals).
What: Adipose tissue (Visceral fat/VAT)
Where: Within abdominal cavity
Why: Fat protects organs by trapping and killing escaping bacteria.
Endocrine organ secretes protein hormones.

Casein, egg tempera, collage on canvas, 19.5 x 26.5″ (WIP)

The composition includes enterocytes, adipocytes, t-cells, macrophages bacteria, viruses…and other stuff…

Painting with casein and egg tempera, I can’t help but think about the food we eat. Casein and egg yolk are binders (adhesives), mixed with pigment, they are my medium. Milk and egg, do they stick…to the gut too?

#wip #horro vacui


Earlier in the month, working the portrait of Veronica with its focus on the microbiome and obesity, I wanted to set the lining of the intestines into the composition ↓. I have to be honest; I kept losing my sense of the space. I needed a map of some sort. I also needed to understand some things → Fat fights back.

So physical…this stuff… and wonderful. It seems to me… the body…might be trying to protect itself (you and me). #sosubtle


©2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

gut. brain.

What do you visualize when you read the phrase Gut-Brain Axis? Or Brain-Gut Connection?

I picture very active brains communicating with very active intestines. Or is it the other way around? Both. It’s a two-way, busy connect especially when you consider the wandering nerve, aka, the vagus nerve. Think: 2-way, information highway. The vagus nerves are paired cranial nerves (CN X) and happen to be my favorite of all the nerves.  Because it is the longest nerve in the body it moves alongside heart and lungs and goes through all the organs of the digestive tract, connecting brain to gut.

I enjoy the challenge of capturing Veronica’s likeness while I work her profile.  I organize and sketch in the brain. The small area of my drawing is detailed into a collaged map of El Paso,TX,  where my cousin lives.

I have fun with the photo ↑ and strategically place color pencils to direct attention to the brainstem, the area of the brain I am working to understand.  I imagine the space to be like a facility loaded with chemicals and chemical messengers / hormones and neurotransmitters. Think: Food intake. Signals and controls. Many and complex. (FYI – purple pencil points to vagus nerve start.)

Some of the hormones involved include adipoectin (a protein hormone that modulates glucose regulation and fatty acid oxidation), and leptin (made by fat cells and decreases appetite).

Veronica, during our initial conversation, noted ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. If I understand correctly, it is primarily released in the stomach and signals hunger to the brain. It also plays a role in determining how quickly hunger returns after a meal. And it promotes fat storage. After my surgery, she says, no more ghrelin. No more! What does this mean?  Forever? I ask.  I don’t know, she answers. And now you eat because??
I must live!
Ah…survival!

Side note: The hormones that play a role in obesity, do they also play a role in anorexia?

I haven’t brought the microbiome in yet. But I will. Now when I hear gut-brain, I also think of microbes.  FYI…they can influence hunger and satiety.

Anyway…I’m still laying ground work…which is both complicated to figure out and complicated to draw. Both my brain and my hands are keeping busy.

One more thing…
In early posts I highlight the brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the white adipose tissue (WAT). Now I study and set in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) located under the skin and visceral adipose tissue (VAT).

In the image above, ↑ I enhance (darker area) the greater omentum (cool name! for an organ) , an example of VAT. It looks like lace, doesn’t it?  This apron of fatty tissue, connective tissue and lymphatics,  comes down from the stomach and stretches over the intestines. The greater omentum, aka, Policeman of the abdomen, might just be the first line of defense against toxins or infections (microbes).

BTW…yes, there is also a lesser omentum…

Meanwhile… drawing circles/making connections.


Keeping a note:
Amylin is a hormone, co-stored and co-secreted with insulin in response to nutrients. It promotes satiety by mediating brain function, including appetite inhibition.

Amylin also plays a role in neural regeneration. It helps regulate glucose metabolism and modulates inflammation. I pull it aside and note it here because of a possible link to Alzheimer’s Disease (Type II Diabetes).

organ of vision

My friend Wright gave me some books early this week. One of them is titled Medical Meanings, A glossary of Word Origins. I look up ‘eye’ and this post is born.

Eye comes through the Old English ēage from the Teutonic auge, all of which refer to the organ of vision. Incidentally, the Old Norse vindauga, “wind-eye” became our “window.”

The paragraph finishes with:
In years past, the upper canine tooth was called the “eyetooth” in the mistaken belief that it was connected to a branch of the same nerve that supplies the eyes.


Carolyn brings over a couple of different sets of medical images. One includes profile shots of her head. The cover reads Full TMJ Right Closed & Left View. I pop it into my laptop, pull up the images and recognize Carolyn’s facial bone structure.

I already know a direct image will be the focus, right then I am certain a profile drawing will also be incorporated into the composition.

Life-size studies are a lot about research and getting general anatomy organized. When it comes to details like the facial features, I very much enjoy the act of drawing ( mostly graphite, some color pencil and an eraser kind of drawing). I like capturing likeness. The challenge eventually is to bring anatomical detail in and not lose resemblance.

Obviously I focus on the eyes (eyeballs) with Carolyn.

Initially I outline her profile into the upper right-hand corner of the picture plane and leave it there for some time.

Taking a second look at her x-rays yesterday, I change my mind and decide I prefer it to the left (her right).

Before I realize it, I am incorporating the brain….not in the plan but it makes sense why I do it and it may stay.


PS…
At the end of the day – the drawing tool appears in hand. 

#Eye #Hand #Brain
#Artist #OrganOfVision #WIP

laying out the body human

I carefully outline Carolyn’s form. The first internal organ to come on to the picture plane is the liver. The organ’s communication feels strongest when I set up to paint.

About the liver…
Consider it has over 500 functions! You could not survive without it. The busy organ aids in digestion and metabolism. It filters your blood (1.5 quarts every minute). It breaks down fat (by producing bile) to release it as energy. It also breaks down meds, drugs, alcohol, caffeine…etc. It takes the heat for you every single day! And it stores vitamins, iron and glucose (sorting and hoarding) for a rainy day.

In Chinese medicine the liver is yin (gallbladder is yang). It is like the general of an army. It opens into the eyes, directs the tendons, reflects in the nails, governs anger and houses the ethereal soul. Do you crave sour food? Your liver might be telling you it needs an extra boost.

The Nahuatl understand it to hold one of three vital forces. Ihiyotl governs ones passion, sentiment and vigor. The Ancient Egyptians also believe it seats the emotions. Necessary in the after-life, they preserve it upon death, for safe travel.

I set the notable liver and then I place the heart. Another time I’ll tell you about the Tonalli, another of the vital forces to the Nahuatl.

liver, heart, stomach

I draw the stomach followed by the large intestine, small intestine and colon…

large and small intestines

I detail left breast tissue and right, move to clavicles, arm and hand bones, pelvis, legs and feet bones.

mammary glands

Thyroid (upper blue area in neck) and thymus (lower blue area above heart)

I place the thyroid. The butterfly shaped gland always speaks to me in turquoise blue. At this point I make the heart bigger, overlay it with the thymus gland (also in turquoise) and as is usual when drawing the thymus, I tap mine in acknowledgment.

Spleen

Finally, I introduce the blood vessels and the beautiful lymphatic system into the composition. The latter directs me to outline and color in the spleen. While the spleen associates with the liver – as I paint, it is the most quiet of the organs.

I like the container-like quality about the form. Let’s see if I can keep it.

Detail – Liver

#WorkInProgress #YourOneSacredLiver


Side note:
Tucson Museum of Art’s Chief Curator, Julie Sasse, is bringing the TMA’s Latin American Art Patrons to the Phoenix Art Museum’s Teotihuacan exhibition next week. While they’re in town I’ll be hosting a studio visit for them.

A good way to begin the new year…

portrait of carolyn – body female

It’s late July when after taking care of the various recommended health screenings, my friend Carolyn has a biopsy. She calls to tell me she’s diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer.

Stage zero! Stage zero? What does this mean? In the course of our conversation I feel myself in repeat mode…Stage zero! Stage zero? 

Diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), she explains the cancer cells are contained. They’ve not spread outside of the ducts or lobules into surrounding breast tissue.

Carolyn, a visual artist, problem solves. Research, discipline and commitment are all part of the creative process in the studio. She now directs these well-honed skills towards creating balance in her health and wellness. She chooses to clean up her system. For Carolyn, this means going vegan.

She surrounds herself with an integrative medical team including her regular primary care physician who is a D.O. (internal medicine), a medical oncologist, a cancer surgeon, a plastic surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a naturopathic physician, a physical therapist, a lymphedema specialist and she brings in a licensed acupuncturist.

August 23 she undergoes a 5 1/2 hour surgery for stage zero breast cancer followed by  a traditional course of radiation which she completes November 6th. Carolyn opts out of the 5 year hormone (suppressing) therapy that often follows radiation. 

I photograph and outline her body the following Saturday afternoon. I return to my studio and Carolyn heads to the Grand Avenue Street Festival.

Carolyn is open about her medical history and consequently I know a fair amount…of interesting things. Her medical records are impressive. They are carefully organized with an object-like quality almost like the cut-outs she collects to work her drawings. Still, I never expected to draw her.

Back in the studio, it’s been a while since I work out a full-scale human. In the interim I’ve learned much more about body organs and systems. And I crack the door and peek into microorganisms and the human microbiome. I am curious to see how the latter will enter the picture plane.

As I work, I recall a few years back, a conversation with Carolyn about the ileum (highlighted below ↓ in orange). It’s a space in the small intestine where the body stores Vitamin B12. I’m fascinated that such an area exists. #thebodyamazing

Carolyn takes B12 regularly these days.

In the small intestines you’ll find the ileum. To the left is the cecum (the start of the large intestine) and below it is the appendix. Lower right corner is the edge of the rectum.

I lay out the structure as I consider the narrative of this new work. It is a very good time to talk about women’s health and wellness.

Work in Progress Portrait of Carolyn (on Arches Hot Press) 7×4′

A body human: portrait of the private and the public, the social and the biological.


Carolyn is an artist who lives in Phoenix, AZ. I know she’ll appreciate me telling you she grew up in Washington, outside of Seattle. She is married to a good guy. Brian surprised (and impressed) me when he handed me an article about the benefits of cilantro.
Oh…and cats! they live with lots of cats (maybe 4).