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 →

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.





The brain takes all the body’s information, internal and external, and produces a response. I love drawing the parts, they are mysterious and complex. Lots of folds, lots of nerves,  lots of hidden elements – for me that means things to represent.

My yoga teacher Meg says energetically we are in the cerebellum now. Each week in class we discuss the organ we are in, and its symbolic aspects. The connection comes from Meg’s interest in Tibetan Pulsation. I know little about the study. I appreciate the information. I understand there’s a physical organ connected to various points in time in the calendar year. Last Wednesday was the last day of being in the legs. Legs, Meg noted, associate with movement: steady forward, hesitant backward, or standstill.

Thursday we moved into the Cerebellum: much thinking, talking. worrying – balance is signified by clarity. Coincidentally this week in the studio I focus and complete the head of my male figure. I rework the cerebellum several times, simplifying the purple (my color choice) form just a little each time.

The cerebellum (Latin for little brain) sits at the base of the skull, above the brainstem. It controls fine movement coördination, balance, equilibrium and muscle tone. My painting of it went through stages. I like the shape, it’s a favorite. It has floral shaped elements which I clean up and eventually leave out for the sake of balancing overall  composition.

Below I start with a general sketch and move to final stage of the area. The painting itself is far from finished.


initial sketch




I always layout more detail thanI keep.


Detail of brain includes ear and the cerebellum in purple

IMG_4391 I notice our yoga practice consists of grounding asanas. We began by standing in tadasana,  firm on the feet.  I wonder now if that’s how the energy of the energy of cerebellum balances. I bet it is.

drawing in – drawing out, all in a day’s practice

Discipline in art is a fundamental struggle to understand oneself, as much as to understand what one is drawing.
Henry Moore

I’ve been thinking about the practice and study of yoga and the practice and study of art-making. For me, one might indicate the other. One of my yoga teachers Mary, says while directing breath…Breathing in, you know that you are breathing in.  Breathing out, you know that you are breathing out.

I’d like to think I could replace the word breathing with the word drawing. I don’t know, it’s just a thought about how the two practices connect for me. That’s all.

I’ve studied the physical and subtle energy bodies for years.  Two weeks ago I took a weekend workshop to study and become more familiar with the Koshas, Pancha Vayus and the Nadis. Yes the ideas are abstract, but the more I draw them out (or do  I draw them in?), the more practical it all becomes. I’ve already made connection between the Nadis (Nadis means flow) and the central nervous and the lymphatic systems.

Below is a still-in-progress, full-size self-portrait. There’s lots of color but I hope to let the dominant color be red, and then white and graphite (dark and light silver) line work. I consider this a (very slow) mapping process. This image partners another large figurative work.

As I pull the images for the post I can’t help but make connection to the Mexican, Catholic, and Indian (Indigenous) background and mythology that I know and understand more clearly. All of it is yoga…pretty sure about that.

A thanks to Mary Bruce and Deborah Garland for the space and the teachings. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

On a side note: AZ is 100 years old today. I’m included in a New Times/Jackalope Ranch centennial celebration of sorts … →click link Arizona Illustrated: 100 Artists in 100 Years.
I’m honored to be listed with some pretty creative folks. Thanks New Times.
…check the list out, it’s pretty interesting…

no woman is an island … continues

I spent the morning pulling a drawing out of its frame, to photograph and to clean up. Getting it ready for its new home.

A few years ago I did a series of works based on the 7 deadly sins and the 4 Cardinal virtues. The series is called “The World Stage, a play in Finite Acts.”
I was planning to focus only on the virtues. Beginning to research and define them, I realized they made no sense without an understanding of the sins. Soon I began the long process of studying, sketching…and yes…even conversing with people, both the virtuous and the sinful!

I read numerous books including Dante’s Inferno, where I directly interpreted Envy. Completed, it was a disturbing drawing, and my favorite. I looked at various artist including Heronymous Bosch’s Seven Deadly Sins, and Mauricio Lasansky‘s work. When it came to the virtues – I chose to focus on Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance – as it is on these four that all the others hinge.

This is my second drawing of this virtue.  I’m partial to it.  The text around the image reads: Fortitude, the brave man suffers injury not for its own sake, but rather as a means to preserve or to acquire a deeper more essential intactness for the sake of good. Be Brave!

My feeling about the virtue of Fortitude and/or Courage is that without it, we can’t complete our life’s real work.  Change and challenge are a constant. I think of the courage it takes to create ones life, and for completing other sorts of goals…like hand standing…you know… in yoga.

Yogi friend Patricia, shared with me (very unexpectedly) a few days ago that the work mesmerized her. She first saw it back in October…and all these months later she’s still thinking about it. That’s a compliment to the work. Pat is no stranger to courage. She’s a Hospice Nurse who deals with death and dying. She says…yes, it’s a choice but I think sometimes it chooses *you.* Working with death and dying gives much opportunity to contemplate this. Inside and out. Being an artist. Being a nurse. Doing hand stands. All require fortitude, which to me is a willingness to turn oneself inside out. You have to trust yourself. It isn’t easy.

It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary and worthwhile.  Fortitude appears to have made a choice. Namaste Pat.

more than a thought

Be conscious, because your thoughts are creative. Be quiet, because you are more than your thoughts. Be. Observe. You are That.

This is a mono-print, silkscreen. I don’t like doing mono-printing in general and I might not care for silkscreening either. For me, this process doesn’t allow the sort of control I want to have.  I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t like the inks. I don’t like the intensity, or the flat opaque nature of the colors. I don’t care for the materials.  And I dislike the clean up.

The image took all of 7 minutes to make. Maybe 6. I blocked out the word, laid in a few colors, pulled the squeegee.  And there appeared, just that quickly, this image, on my paper. For a process oriented person, it wasn’t so exciting. The clean up took over 20 minutes. I was soaking wet when it was all done. Was it worth it?

Sitting with it in my studio for a l-o-n-g time…I realize only this morning, what it’s all about. A meditation, like my yoga practice, like Zen, like life, a sudden clarity appeared. No one had to strike me on the head with a stick either…I got it.

I created it and all is good. Priceless.

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…..

yoga, music and art

Join Mary, Meg and myself for…


A couple of friends and I have organized a Sunday afternoon event the first weekend in December. It will include a yoga practice led by Certified Anusara Yoga® Instructor  Meg Byerlein. The practice will be accompanied by live music from professional Jazz saxophonist Mary Petrich. My paintings, drawings and prints will hang in the space. The afternoon will end with a community reception of live Jazz, art, cookies, and chai.
The Venue is the PHX ART LAB, centrally located in Phoenix, on 7th St. 

Mary, Meg, and I have, at various points in time, discussed working with one another.  
It’s A Happeningand you’re invited.

Who:        Meg Byerlein, Mary Petrich, and Monica Aissa Martinez

Where:    PHX ART LAB
                   3508 N. 7th St. Suite 135
                   Phoenix AZ 85014

When:      Sunday, December 6, 2009                  
                    2:00-3:15 Yoga Practice    *     3:45-4:45 Art, Jazz, Cookies and Chai

What:       We invite you to an experience which collectively celebrates
                    YOGA, MUSIC, and ART in COMMUNITY.

Doors will open at 1:30. Yoga begins at 2:00. Practice ends with an open eye meditation focusing on an artwork. Live music (trio) will accompany asana. Participate in all three events: yoga, music, and art. Or join us just for Jazz music and Art, after the practice.                 
(Yoga: All levels welcome. Bring your own mat and blanket)

Yoga, Music, Art, and Refreshments (2:00-4:45).
pre-registration $25.00, or $30.00 at the door.
Jazz, Art, and Refreshments (3:45-4:45),  $15.00 at the door.

Register by Nov. 30th.
Space is limited (for yoga participants).
Cash or check only, no credit cards please.
Sorry, no refund for no-shows.
Make check payable to: Monica Aissa Martinez
Mail to PHXARTLAB, at address above. On envelope: Attn.: Aissa

For more information contact Mary Petrich @ 602-565-3640 or email her at or contact monica

©2009 M3Productions

conception to delivery, a windy liver


I have a windy liver, Maria said. A what?  A windy liver, she repeated. I practice yoga with Maria and a group of about a dozen yogi’s. Every Tuesday we meet for three re-energizing hours to hand-stand, back-bend and twist the afternoon away. Apparently Maria had things going on and decided to see an Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioner. The outcome was this diagnosis of a Windy Liver.

Ironically the day before I had painted livers blue-liver( not windy ones) as part of a new series titled Vital Commotion, concerning the body-mind connection. Her words resonated visually. Serendipity!

I had to take a pause, because although it got my imagination going, it was for Maria, a personal diagnosis. I prodded, curiously but respectfully. Maria didn’t seem to mind. She did not really know much about the condition.  As usually happens in the Practice everyone chimed in with what one knew about the ailment, or what one thought it could mean. Meg, our instructor, is an Ayurvedic consultant.  She explained some, but it was all still abstract to me.

I wondered if I would be annoyed to be diagnosed with a windy liver or would I be relieved. Maria told us about her treatment, it included sesame oil, I think. I came home and immediately began researching windy livers.

I had purchased some small copper sheets the week before, thinking I might work on a print soon. Little did I know an idea would present itself. Printmaking not only allows immediacy and spontaneity, it also allows wit and lightheartedness in some odd way.  I think this is because initially the earliest forms of printmaking began with the press and from it sprang political satire, its history allows for an easy balance of intelligence and simplicity.

After a few days of research, I formulated a design and scratched it onto the plate.  I worked in my studio, non-stop, and the image just rolled right out. One of the necessities for making a print is to be able to work in reverse. I realized only after I had done it, that the various organs, including a liver, a liver lobule, a gallbladder and spleen were not in reverse.  I knew when I ran the print it would print backwards. But this worked, after all –   imbalance of some sort – is what a windy liver is all about.

I recall I was listening to Mana, a Mexican musical group, for the first time. I was trying to understand the words as I worked on the plate, they were in Spanish. The music seemed fluid and ephemeral, the words poetic.  I had my dictionary with me, and as  I made sense of phrases, I put some of them into the border of the image. The words have to do with earth, rain, fire and air – tierra, agua, fuego, y aire – the elements. This too connected (according to my research). I drew the words in reverse so they would print readable.  This has always been easy for me, to write backwards.  It comes in handy in printmaking.

the print

the print

I pulled a dozen simple prints and brought them back into my studio.  And I began hand- painting one and then two. The first one is titled, Her Diagnosis-A Windy Liver.


A figure stands as the focal point, on a world of hearts. Areas of the body are in flames. The body is disconnected and disjointed because it is being reset.
Symbols of mind, body and spirit take up space somewhere in the composition, as do literal cells, nerves, and organs.  The figure holds up its hands, open and ready, no fight or flight present.

Not long after I completed these works my friend Andrea, from The Store over at the Mesa Art’s Center, called.  MAC had purchased my lithograph for their permanent collection and she had just seen it. I didn’t know you made prints! Now and again I do, I said. Do you have any small prints I can carry for the upcoming opening? I delivered 7 prints to Andrea within a week, just in time for the opening Print exhibit, in the main gallery.
You can see and or purchase this print along with others in The Store, at MAC.

Maria is doing better, going towards balance. Namaste Maria.