motor and sensory cortical homunculus

Last June, I studied and drew out a small image of the motor and sensory cortical homunculus.  I’ve wanted to come back to it.

I organize materials and prep a 42×42″ canvas this weekend (now I wish I’d gone bigger).

Consider the somatosensory homunculus a neurological layout, mapping areas within the brain that process the various parts of your entire body. Isn’t the human brain and all that it coordinates (you and me) incredible?!!

I touch my head trying to locate the exact spot where my hands connect while picking up my brush and painting detail. The deep center of the sensory strips come to mind as I run. And while doing Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) in Yoga class, I trust I find balance within and without the body (internal left side of the brain influences external right side of the body, while internal right side influences external left).

The human brain is designed for movement, thought to action…

Cortical Homunculus – in process

I am brain and body.
I am sender and receiver.
I am neuron and synapse.
I am inside and outside.
Moving in space and standing still.
I am.


I see your beautiful brain…

© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

we begin – with line

We don’t need shading or even perspective and we can understand the image. It’s all in the placement of the lines of the work; the pressure and direction of the line.
Rick Rotante

IMG_3743

Adriana: I never thought of drawing a pine cone. 
Me: Did you enjoy it?
Adriana: Yeah, I did. 
Me: Do you like the end result?
Adriana: I’m really proud of it. I didn’t know I could do that.

In-class subject-matter: Pinecone
Focus: Inner and Outer contour – which basically means they are working with the design element of line. A fluid, simple line is arrived by careful observation and careful putting down what one sees.
Out of class: complex natural object of their choosing.

igotthepineconeblues

I Got The Pinecone Blues by Adriana

bellpepperandonion

Bell Pepper and Onion by Adriana

alyssatilted

Tilted by Alyssa

jalapeno

Jalapeno by Alexssa

IMG_3746

Pinecone by Kyle

curvycone

Curvy Cone by Katie

innercone

InnerCone by Jesus

lelacone

Orange by Lela

Below: Drawing 2 students.
They have to stay connected to line. But they get to pick their subject-matter and drawing medium. I’m pleasantly surprised when they each choose to work with charcoal and pastel. All of them have studied with me before, basically they pick up where they left off.

artichokeale

Artichoke Flower by Alejandra

gonewiththewind

Gone With The Wind, by Manny

Is the drawing believable? Carefully observed? Do lines flow? Does your eye move through the composition?
We take a 15 minute break mid-class and usually the class goes out to the courtyard. This time I notice many return to the drawings and take a closer look at each others work. Already their understanding has expanded.

…. clearly we are off to a good start … 

primordial energy

Pri·mor·di·al (adjective )

1. constituting a beginning; giving origin to something derived or developed; original; elementary: primordial forms of life.
2. Embryology .first formed.
3. pertaining to or existing at or from the very beginning: primordial matter.


This morning, Meg our yoga instructor, informed the class about the energy that is currently in motion and will continue to be until Friday. It happens to be the primordial energy of the ovaries and the testes. It’s a tumultuous time in our country.
Find clarity, stabilize. I don’t know where we’ll land but we always seek balance.

hers

Hers

His

His

I completed His and Her pelvic studies which will show next month when Creature Man Nature opens. Below are process videos of each.

CREATURE, MAN AND NATURE
Works by:
Carolyn Lavender, Monica Aissa Martinez, and Mary Shindell
@ Mesa Contemporary Arts in the North Gallery
January 11- April 28, 2013
Opening Reception: January 25, 2013 (6-9pm)
visit → The Blog

“the pine-cone doesn’t lie”

Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.
Pablo Picasso


New semester, first critique. Students put up one wall of very good renderings of a natural object.

I quote Jose, a Drawing 1 student, in this post title.  He says during critique, The pine-cone doesn’t lie.  It always tells the truth. I came back to it over and over and it never changed, it was always the same. I’m the one that changed. I was the one that was lying.

I consider calling it a day, so the class can go home and meditate on that one single thought, it’s pretty wonderful. Jose also notes how he had drawn and redrawn, and because he was not at all familiar with a pine-cone, he was forced to look and then look again, and again. He titles one of the studies CSI because, he explains, if his pine-cone was killed or went missing he would recognize its DNA, because of all the intense observation.

Excellent!

His last (and 4th study) drawing is below.  He only had to complete one, but obviously, he wanted to get it right. Here is a simple (though not so easy) and well observed contour study of his one unique pine-cone.

Pine-Cone Sunrise by Jose

The drawings that follow are all Drawing 1 student’s work.  Some of them have never drawn before. And though the assignment is a focus on inner and outer contour, a few do include texture. Clearly, this group is already paying attention. For the record, they work 18″ x 24 and use a Sharpie Marker…no erasing, forcing them to work slowly and really consider what they put down. It’s not effortless, but they sure make it look that way.  I know better though.

Androa by Alexis

Pine-Cone Slam by Bri

Ultima by Eddie

by Michelle

Recognition by Alberto

Cono del Pino by Kyle

Pillars of a Pine-Cone by Andres

Below are a couple of the Drawing and Composition II students. Crystal (working in oil pastel) and Kim (working with charcoal and conté) have studied with me before. They pick up right where they left off in Drawing 1.

Seed-Pod by Crystal

Pine Cone by Kim

As the students are working they talk about the spiral form that they begin to note in their pine-cone.  During critique when they are commenting on the accuracy of other student’s work they bring up this spiral pattern again. It helps them identify if what the work we are discussing is real (based on what the student sees) or imaginary (based on the imagination). We really are off to a great start.


…and here is an explanation of the Fibonacci Spiral seen in pine-cones…as well as many other things in nature.


more seeing

When it comes to value, that’s when we find out why most paintings are boring and others will knock your socks off. Harley Brown


This assignment is not just a Value study, it’s also the student’s first complete Charcoal (or color Pastel) drawing. They work at controlling a medium that is not easy to control, in relation to the marker they just left behind. They can move this medium, pick it up, and put more of it down. They pay attention to the surface. They learn to develop edges. This is about the time many students stop taking breaks, and the classroom gets very quiet. They focus. I particularly enjoy the intensity of class at this point.

I ask them for a different sort of seeing. Most of the students are drawing in Charcoal and have to translate a color into a value. They explore lights and darks and shadow. A few students work in color Pastel.

They’ve learned to look closely and now their seeing is so much more heightened.

Ivon

Kim

Art

Yeda

Erica

Julieta

“art’s never the same thing twice”

Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and effects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect.


We’ll be doing it again. Mary, Carolyn, and I have met a few times since last March.  A new plan for working together took hold yesterday.

My favorite comments (paraphrasing) of the afternoon:

Mary Shindell:

On our working together again:  Art’s never the same thing twice.

On crap and coziness: Right now, I’m working over at the Jackson studio. I put crap everywhere. I want to make it cozy. I want to feel like I am working close to my stuff, not be in vast space.  I want cozier.

About her work: I want to take the most insignificant, inconsequential things in nature and make them have significance.

Carolyn Lavender:

On what she might show: I plan to have new large work.  And also a large grouping of my Journal pieces.  The Journal pieces (each alone), are not very defensible.
(That is to say, they are strong as a grouping.)

About a working title for the exhibit:  Particular Purpose…I like the particular.

and me:

To Carolyn about why the cat is free to roam my studio:  I don’t try to control her.  Cause I mostly control everything else (…in the studio).

To Carolyn: How did God come into this conversation? 
Carolyn: You brought it up! 

…and I won’t say who said it exactly or about what:

WTF!

Do you see why we want to do this again?
New work. New exhibit. New blog.  New media. New Venue.
Museum. Center for the Arts.

culture seen

Culture Seen is Lisa Marie Sipe’s newly launched blog. She’s collaborating with artists Angela Cazel Jahn and Christopher Jagmin to interview artists, visit their studios and talk about the art world.

click here → Studio Visit – Monica Aissa Martinez

Thanks Lisa. Thanks Culture Seen.
Click here to join them on facebook for updates.

portrait of students, artists in the making

This week my drawing students had a slew of challenges, within their two assignments.

They were outside drawing landscape and wouldn’t you know it, Phoenix offered us rain. I’m not sorry it’s raining, I say to the class, it’s just something interesting to deal with. And I don’t have a Plan B because, I emphasize…it never rains in Phoenix!
I thought that was Southern California! one student answers back.

Humor and commitment win over. Needless to say…wet earth and mosquitos become part of the challenge.

Noelle's Tree

The other assignment, A Self Portrait.  It provided its own challenges.
Here are a few of the completed drawings, and a bit of story about each.

Above is Edgar’s drawing, “Stop the Profiling.”  He’s in Arizona, he’s paying attention, and he has something to say. He uses his profile to make a point. Smart.
We have a valuable conversation about art as a form of communication.

Gabriel, an admitted perfectionist.  He renders himself photo perfect.  Gabriel receives compliments from his classmates, for both the drawing and the hair.

If you know Max, you know this looks just like him. He has one brown eye and one green eye.  Max works in pastel and  portrays himself holding a video gizmo in his hand. He likes playing video games along with drawing.

Noelle, she has big brown eyes.  Most times that I come up to look at her work she doesn’t notice me, she’s so concentrated and focused. Until I tap her or say something, then the brown eyes peer up…exactly like this.

Paul is a Drawing 4 student.  He set up his own way of solving the problem. It created lots of conversation. He came to his drawing paper 10 or so times.  Redrawing himself over and over on the same sheet, but never looking at the result.  He kept his eyes on his reflection as his hand drew.  As he unveiled it to us, he unveiled it to himself. Clever Paul. One student said it was theoretical. I said I thought it was theatrical. He had fun with it, so did we.

Manny who loves to draw.  Though he’s only a Drawing 1 student, he obviously has lots of skill.  He asked me if he could use a medium of his choice instead of the marker as I had required of the Drawing 1 students. Worked for me. And it worked for him.  This charcoal drawing has the glow of graphite. Looks just like Manny too.

My camera ran out of juice. I can’t show you more though I’d like to.

So…it appears the class has mastered the marker. They have found some ease and confidence in their skills, and it comes out during critique. But I can’t let them get too comfortable.

We’ll be moving to charcoal. New beginning, new process.  They’ll be mastering another material and they’ll be dealing with value and surface. On with the show!

wanted for messing with charcoal and pastel

The semester is unusual in that I only have 4 female students in the class.  What’s more unusual, none of them are present at the start of critique, this week. Eventually one of the women does show up. Better late than never.
In the meantime, we have fun with the class photo.  We create a line up. The only thing these men are guilty of, is drawing with charcoal and pastel.

Critique is good. Everyone appreciates the finished drawings….they’re strong compositions. We discuss the challenge of the material, that everyone experiences. We discuss the variety of the values, and the surface of the drawing. We talk about how realistic something appears in terms of the cloth, and we talk about space, layers, and edges.
I’ve discussed this assignment before (11/30.2009). We’re in the midst of working with value. It’s the first real charcoal drawing many of the Drawing 1 students have ever worked on (keep this in mind when you see their work below). One advanced student works in color, with pastels. They complete a value scale right before starting the still life. They know by the time the value scale is finished , elbow grease will be required, from this point forward. Also necessary and in development, is another form of patience.  It seems they just learned to control the marker, and now they have to let that go…because charcoal…has it’s own very unique challenges, in terms of trying to control it.  It goes everywhere.

I always notice the class, in general, becomes more quiet with the charcoal studies.

Davin and Misty


Max

Rachel

In all honesty, I find it very hard to be in the classroom teaching, on some days.  I want to be drawing too…that’s what watching the students learn this particular medium especially, does to me.

Warren

Kevin

Andrew

Arturo

 

Davin, Drawing 2

The end of semester is quickly approaching. One more drawing, and one more critique.

steady now, creativity in motion

Nothing about the creative process is black and white….just as in life, there are variables that affect outflow and outcome.

Yesterday I stretched two pieces of canvas. One I primed with white gesso, and the other with black gesso.  I don’t know exactly what will go on each canvas, but I have a general idea. I don’t really work off of very developed sketches all the time. Most often, I have an idea and I progress with materials that are flexible and continue to move for a while. I correct, alter, and solidify, as I go along. Things are never really permanent until the very end, if even at that point. It’s not easy working this way, but its the way that is most successful for me.

Right now, I have a clear sense of the unknown, and I am in sync with that. I have a blank canvas…in this case…two blank canvases. I also have plenty of experience, materials, and skills that will come with me as I move thru these new compositions. Consequently, I feel a sense of regeneration. One of the canvases you see here will be the center (the guts… literally)  of a larger composition.  The other, will be a supporting element, that stands alone, to express progress. At this moment, I am at ease with what comes natural and easy, but also with the struggle.


Get on your mark, get set…stop! Get on your mark, get set…oops. Get on your mark, get set…oh shit! Get on your mark, get set….GO!
Steady now, creativity in motion…  I trust the flow.

the first bit, more pieces to come

Today I offer the first glimpse of a creative collaboration that I am excited to be writing about. Involved are three other artists. Here begins the first formulations of what will be a future art exhibition.

The group of four has come together for specific reasons, most important is that we want to work together. Working together is a bit more involved than merely showing together in an art exhibit. It includes a systematic series of actions directed to some end. What is the end? Simply put, it’s the creative experience itself.

Certain criteria underlies the procedure of coming together. The artists are mature in their work, with a certain level of ambition still very palpable in their art. Not one  of us can call ourselves an “emerging” artist anymore. There’s experience present, singularly and collectively. And though there hasn’t been a “merging” within every arena wanted, everyone’s on it, in their own way, be sure of this.  Each has an MFA. With this footing, a level of tenacity and self-awareness is implied. Each person can draw, though each of us handles the ability in a very different manner. Everyone relates to the education process as a student, and as a teacher. And each person’s sensibility stands out as unique and precise. You see the individuals hand in the individuals works. There’s unmistakable presence of time, be it fast and quick or slow and steady. And evolution is a constant.

The evening’s conversation bounces around, as we share a meal. Discussion involves how we proceed in making art.  Process will be a part of the exhibition so this discussion is important.  How does one begin a work of  art? Is end result in mind? I listen to each response, there’s overlap in conversation, excitement, agreement, curiosity. I hear how different everyone is, in some external sort of way.  I do note a more internal form of connection as well.

Conversation continues. What do you listen to while in studio? This one element is important to everyone, so much so we discuss it at various points in the evening. Someone asks if the impetus to create is retinal or cerebral? Interesting choice of descriptive words. It’s retinal, they’re in agreement. I pause to consider. I can’t answer easily. Intuition, instinct, a strong understanding of the elements of design, confidence in the process, materials, adventures, age, personal interests…we’re talking about all of it. One spouse contributes a comment that gets our attention. It appears to me, you all solve problems. One person voices appreciation.  We all agree with the observation.

Here it is, in a nutshell. We’re working together, yes. There are four of us. We may have a venue and a general time line.  The whole picture isn’t clear…yet….but we do see it happening. It’s retinal. What do we call the exhibition? It’s important that we get this. It’ll determine various specifics.

This evening we’ve each brought along something. Some thing we work with; tool, material, a bit of process stuff. The symbol is a jumping point to help formulate a working title. I enjoy the discovery, the sharing. We throw words around. Out comes Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary , and I begin to read.

Process – operation.  PROCESS. PROCEDURE. PROCEEDING.   Apply to something that goes on or takes place.
A PROCESS is a series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained.
PROCEDURE usually implies a formal or set order of doing a thing, a method of conducting affairs.
PROCEEDING applies to what goes on or takes place…

“That’s it! I like that!”  One person calls out. Though I’ve not finished reading the whole thing, with similar excitement, everyone agrees. The working title of our project becomes What Goes On and What Takes Place.

Here, you have the Why. I’ll fill you in on the Who these other artists are and the Where, and When the exhibition will take place, and a few other important details.  Bit by bit, time will reveal.  After all, the creative experience, is what it’s all about. This collaboration is a building of trust in the process, as we each continue to make art.

Stay tuned, more to come!

P.S. this is way better than any reality show.
Hmmmm…..now what if….

this body of work is coming together (formation cont.)…

As I work on drawing (what I think of as) legs, I recall my college anatomy drawing classes. I particularly enjoyed learning the bone and muscle structures of the human body.  I easily remember the names of the leg bones: femur, patella, tibia, and fibula.
Years later I was to study anatomy, in Yoga, and I came to discover another layer of leg information. Legs connect energetically to stability, protection, balance, justice, and honor. My legs allow me so much of my daily activity like walking, standing, jumping, and running.  I know my legs best when I’m out on a long run.  They’re strong and full of endurance.

As it turns out, I’m wrong about the way I’ve identified leg(s). Only now, with this drawing complete and after some research, I learn, precisely, leg refers only to the area between the knee and the ankle.  Hips, thighs (quads, hamstrings), knees, calves and ankles are not all parts of the leg. These parts identify as lower extremities which includes numerous bones, muscles, arteries, nerves, and tendons.  This information starts to clarify the energetics part, for me.

So…as I sit here and write about my lower extremity paintings, they appear so very generalized. Contours of hips, thighs, quads, knees, and calves…seem too simple a way to express these complex, highly charged, beautifully synchronized, hard-working limbs. They’re incredible, really they are.


On a side note, I wonder if I should have made the hips, knees, and calves painting, and the feet painting one singular piece, instead of 2 separate but connecting works. After-all they’re energetically and physically connected.
Decidedly I like separating and admiring the parts of our marvelous lower extremities.

Clearer focus moves into this picture. Things can start to change.

To be Continued…..

on the Row

Downtown Phoenix. Roosevelt Row. Modified Arts, Eye Lounge and 515.

I walk into the newly remodeled Modified Arts. A very different sort of space this month, than it was last. It still has its unique character, but in its renovation it has picked up a new level of sophistication; more open and bright.

A quick glance around the room and I recognize lots of  the work on the walls. I see artists whose art I remember from my first years in the valley, back in the early 90’s, hanging alongside newer artists art work. It’s what the show is about, honoring the past, and forging the future.

I appreciate seeing a small, surreal Philip Curtis painting hanging within reach of black and white Annie Lopez photographs,  that include text. And among 3 Car Pile Up collages, hangs a Beth Ames Swartz textured work. A Janet De Berge Lange sculpture sits in front of a Beatrice Moore painting. A Fritz Scholder is at the entrance, it makes perfect sense here. And a tall pedestal sculpture by Steven Yazzie moves your eyes up a corner area.

I notice some of the artworks on view, are from Ted Decker’s private collection. He summarizes the experience (of Modified and of the art scene in general, here in Phoenix) in a small keepsake handout (*click on link at the end, to read it).

I talk with Adam, one of the new managers. He’s busy arranging chairs for an evening event but he takes time to share a few words about what they’re doing and why. Calm excitement emanates from him.

A good start to the afternoon, I decide, as I leave the space.

Kaori Takumori, eye lounge art space

Next stop, Eye Lounge.  Two installation works fill the main galleries. Third year member Kaori Takamara, whose installation, The Streets, sits in the west gallery, greets me. Though it’s her sensibility, the form itself, is a new direction. We discuss working and commitment to continued growth. Craig Randich’s installations are in the East Gallery, and he also hangs 2-D works. in the Project Room.  I have to say, I am very drawn to the works on the wall back there. They completely amuse me. I get it.  It’s as though writing something down a hundred times…could make it be so.  Go see the work, you’ll see what I mean.

I walk into Made and am pleasantly surprised to catch both Greg and Cindy.  We talk about the exhibits. Cindy considers that this might be the first time two installations show at the same time, in Eye Lounge. Greg calls out artist names and the year, of when it happened before. Installations are great Cindy says, because each time they’re experienced, it’s unique.

And last but not least….Mary Shindell, at 515. Wow!  Marys new work is such a clear evolution of her earlier work.  It is so different, but then not so different, if you really look at it and start to break it down.

I spend a long time with Mary, cause both her work and process intrigue me.  We discuss printmaking, drawing, tenacity, discipline, hard exhausting process…process and more process. Her new process is…well frankly…very cool. It’s all about problem solving.  She had an idea and then…one problem led to another problem, requiring another solution, and on and on…until the work, as we see it now, was born.

The forms, materials and content interest me. She is generous to share it all. They are a series of works inspired by cacti. I can tell from our discussion, she’s observed them well, for many years. In the sculpture, she (literally) contains computer generated drawings into  long, vertical, cylindrical plastic forms and then drills into some areas and runs fiber optic wiring through and out the surface. The wires are reminiscent of thorns and in one case, a bird’s nest. The work is meticulous. They’re each wired inside with lighting, and as the sun settles for the late afternoon, they’re transformed into quieter, somehow more fully alive objects.

An opaque blue/green work in the center of the room takes on solid depth while a more translucent green one looks more hollow and reminds me of quiet, internal, fluid filled space. I look at each one carefully and then I sit and look at the grouping, for a long time. I only leave because the gallery is closing soon and a couple comes in and they clearly want to discuss the work with Mary.

As I head back to my car, I realize that I am fortunate that I can walk down one street, on any given weekend and visit with artists/friends and look at their exciting work, and talk to them about their process, and their progress. I can’t imagine not having this…it’s not always been this way, but thanks to a lot of creative people, past and present, it is that Now.

And here, now…I am back to painting in my studio, just a bit more clear about what I do, and why.

* read more Ted Decker Blog