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

adipose tissue – studies

Adipocyte, I’m looking at your structure. You have everything I understand to be in a human cell plus added oil bodies or lipid bodies. Drawing you out to know you better, I layer the lipid droplets in yellow and white. Fun to resolve this portion of you. I use casein paint and ink but I might have worked with egg tempera. I bet a simple droplet of egg yolk could suffice.

Mixed media on Mylar

Adipose tissue, AKA body fat, located beneath the skin, around organs, between muscles, in bone marrow and in breast tissue. Can I really describe you as a major endocrine organ because…you produce hormones? Do I understand this correctly? I drew out all the major endocrine glands, do I go back to the series and add you now?

Adipocyte. Fat Cell

Adipocyte AKA Fat Cell

Adipocytes form several types of adipose tissue, at least 2 maybe 3.

One type: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) ↓
Brown adipose tissue, each of your cells includes several lipid droplets. And you hold many iron-containing mitochondria. Is this why you appear warm in color? Mitochondria, holders of energy (ATP), are the power-house of a cell. It is no wonder you consume energy and generate heat.

Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)

Do you sit in the front and back of the neck and upper back? Between the shoulder blades? Around the kidneys? Anywhere else? And are you the baby-fat in a newborn?

Will you hang out and stay active as I get older? Please do! I need you for warmth and physical activity. I need you for my bones and for endurance.

Second type: White adipose tissue (WAT) ↓
White adipose tissue, I especially enjoy setting in your single lipid droplet (again, like dropping yolk to mix my egg tempera paint).  I pull out my thinnest brushes and sharpen all my pencils to be able to detail organelles into each of your cell’s periphery. You might be simple in design, though I find you more complicated.

White Adipose Tissue (WAT)

You have fewer mitochondria than brown fat. You store energy in case I overexert (and in case of starvation). You too help maintain my body temperature. Do you hold heat? Are you more like insulation? Padding? Are you mostly visceral fat? Might I find you inside my abdominal cavity and between my organs? You don’t have my permission to take over my liver or intestines. And don’t get too comfy with my heart or kidney’s either. You’re a little more troublesome, aren’t you? And what does it mean that you originate from connective tissue?

Maybe a 3rd type is beige fat?
Sooo…I hear white fat can brown with chronic cold exposure. While out on my morning run, I consider the probability. Not happening in Phoenix. Though a friend did just tell me about a local gym that supports a cold therapy.


A few weeks ago:
I have lunch with Joe, a doctor/educator from New Mexico. We meet to discuss the microbiome. He directs the conversation towards weight gain. He says, with no uncertainty, everyone will gain weight with age. He explains why he believes this to be true.

Joe talks about people and the relationship they have with their microbiome which involves both cooperation and conflict. I appreciate when he explains humans are an eco-system. He adds… a sometimes messy eco-system.

The stuff that stays with me:
Weight gain might not always be about discipline or lack thereof.
There might be something else at play in the gaining of weight.
Perhaps gut microbes influence eating behavior.

I sense Joe’s compassion for people dealing with weight issues.

Some play…
I take my drawings through a filter to contrast and simplify forms. Here is another view of the varying density of adipose tissue. #Ahh!Life!

#adipocytes #fatcells #adiposetissue #brownfat #whitefat #beigefat?
#subcutaneous #visceral #microbes


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

gila woodpecker

Like clockwork, May brings Gila Woodpeckers to the peach tree that sits next to my studio window. The red cap identifies this one as male.  Every year I watch them and wonder how difficult it would be to paint one.

Last week I read that Spring, in traditional Chinese medicine, connects to the element of wood. Hmmm… I have a 14×14″ panel and one fresh egg (yolk). I put my dry pigments out on the table.

Finally in progress, a Gila Woodpecker on a collaged panel in casein and egg tempera.

Spring, the season of renewal, your element is wood. #GilaWoodpecker
#upward #expansive #creative #activity


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

it was a toad after all

This week I paint a toad I’d met and photographed at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. He’s a rescue. For the record, I’ve been calling him a frog.

Handsome, isn’t he?

Rescued Desert Frog Toad

This guy ↓ is painted on a small (12×12″) collaged panel using casein.

And only because I receive fresh… “freshest eggs the girls just laid”… eggs (Thanks Jasmine!), I complete the composition in egg tempera.

I miss painting with yolk! And yes, the fresher the egg, the silkier the yolk feels as it moves from brush to surface. The medium lends itself to this guy’s texture (which is why I understand he’s a toad and not a frog – #itsthetexture).

My first amphibian study. Maybe I’m finished with this composition – maybe I’m not. 


Filters. Fun.

This frog toad has been in the queue since last summer He brings with him the energy of rebirth adaptability and renewal regeneration.

Frogs Toads have fairly simple skeleton structure. They don’t have ribs. The pelvis can slide up and down the spine. And they don’t have necks. No head turning for this guy. 5 digits on back legs, 4 up front.

 

Speaking of egg tempera…”Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is showing both Male Torso and Female Torso in their current exhibition which runs through October 14th. If you’re in Bentonville… 
More info → Tempera


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

grounding

I couldn’t help but think about grounding as I set out to run yesterday morning. The idea was on my mind and consequently in my feet, as they landed, hitting the earth with each stride. Walking and running are two activities that ground me on a regular basis.

Yoga takes it another step (no pun intended) and grounding becomes rooting. Standing in Tadasa, the whole body is taken into account. Tadasana, AKA Mountain pose, directs the feet to touch the earth, planting (rooting) evenly and firmly. The posture centers one into the body. Stabilized, physically and mentally, the body can now move into other postures with a particular focus and freedom. Other standing postures like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), which explores balance, and Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) which brings attention to feet, legs and hips, also support grounding.

This morning while completing my post, I realize more, especially as I consider degrees of health and wellness. Do I take touching the earth with my feet for granted?

I think about people who are bedridden. They don’t easily, if at all, touch ground. And what about people who can’t move much and are on the second floor of a building? They might not often even see ground. Do they remember?

What if the earth is a treatment surface spanning across the globe – helping with health and well-being? What if touching ground (or rooting into the earth) is as beneficial to you and me as clean air, nutritious food, sunshine, physical activity and water.

Human body touch ground. Human body touch earth. #IsMedicine
Stand on the earth today, take root and know you are present, here and now.

I’m almost complete with Portrait of Carolyn (Carolyn, the person, is doing great, btw.) I am still considering the title and want to add the word ecology to it. I read in my notes where I wrote about the body being a private, public, social and biological statement…I have a few more elements to set into the earth and sky.

On a separate note… I think about the people whose feet don’t touch the earth often and they may not remember. Today, I root into the ground and honor it for them.


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

drawing – a system of connecting parts

The six-sided, very cool and highly complex structure below ↓ is a section of the hepatic lobule (at the microscopic level). It represents a building block of the liver that includes (at all the edges) blood and bile collecting vessels called portal triads: a portal artery (red), portal vein (blue) and bile duct (green).

liver lobule

I isolate and detail a lobule of the liver into the Portrait of Carolyn because I want to know where Kupffer cells hang out. They’re the smallest and brightest orange (in my ↑ study) circular forms in the sinusoids (blue central lines). Kupffer cells work to remove debris (bacteria and their product) and worn out blood cells from blood before returning it back to the heart.

And speaking of bacteria, this portrait study is the first to include microbes (archaea, bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses).

The study of these invisible-to-the-eye life forms include a language I might never grasp. Take the word Firmicutes (firmus, strong and cutis, skin), a playful word that basically means a division or category of bacteria.  Firmacutes, like the Streptococcus below, are labeled gram-positive. This sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? (I have an urge here to remind you that I am an artist not a scientist.)

If I had to rate the status of the relationship between human and microbes, I say…It’s complicated!

I continue to learn about microbes and the human microbiome. I’ve become curious about cancer causing pathogens. I look for more info on viruses in particular.

While Carolyn’s diagnosis of breast cancer is the impetus for the drawing, it’s not necessarily the focal point. A whole biological system/environment is the focus of the study.

Between the fig and the fibula – that’s where you’ll find #Feisty the cat. #portraitofcarolyn #ecosystems

Drawing a #drawing. Painting a #painting. #PortraitOfCarolyn #ShesAnArtist  #WorkInProgress

I brought in #WildBlueberries (Lots of them cuz they are Queen of the anti-oxidant foods #flavonoids.) and #bananas (favorite source of #potassium). #foodasmedicine

Added a #green #herb to the drawing yesterday. Ate it while I drew it! 💚#Cilantro. Loaded w vitamins and minerals. 💚💚 #phytonutrients #flavinoids #cineole #linoleic #dodecenal

Good time to mention the composition also includes intestinal epithelium cells ↓ that form the lining of the small and large intestines. The lining absorbs beneficial matter into the body as well as restricting harmful substances.

Over Spring Break, Carolyn and I drive to San Diego to pick up her artwork from an exhibition. Would I like to visit a tourist site? She asks while describing a stone house with a tower. Off of Interstate 8 we pull into Desert View Tower.

It feels good to move around, we hike an area of rocks and eventually make our way to the building. We climb a spiral staircase leading to a tower where we experience the view of wide open landscape. There’s a bronze bell up there too, which I photograph for no particular reason, except that I like bronze bells ( I own 2 of them).

Back in the studio I recall a conversation:
I’ve meant to tell you something. I think you’ll like this! Carolyn says. She tells me about a brass bell she’d rang at the cancer center that marked the end of her radiation treatment (and maybe the beginning of something new). It’s a tradition that all patients celebrate, she explains. I’d never heard of it. Was Brian with you? She nods and says Yes!

#wip
The work continues…connecting the parts.


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

coyote logic

Coyote Logic is the title of Lisa Dominguez Abraham’s first book of poetry.
I’m pleased to note my painting Coytl – Urban Coyote is on the cover.

Lisa sent a personally inscribed copy to me, which I received yesterday. I read through some of it late last night and early this morning. Here is one of her wonderful poems. I share it with her permission.

Home Remedy by Lisa Dominguez Abraham

The wrinkled print of my mother’s grip
branded my arm when she pulled me,
a toddler, from boiling water I spilled
as I tried to touch steam
rising from the stove.
Years later she said I was still trouble,
refusing dresses and barrettes. Normal girls whispered
about boys—I yodeled to neighborhood dogs,
leading my pack through vacant lots
until the day my throat swelled with strep
so sore I confessed and opened
my mouth to my mom.
She drove me to the railyard,
to a boxcar with wheels rusted fast
and a trellis of bougainvillea.
Inside she whispered Spanish
to an old woman who braced her palm
against my forehead, angled a stick
past my tongue to dab thick salt paste
onto tonsils. Saliva trickled
like broth through constriction, a treatment
to cure strep and perhaps rinse
my voice to a gentler tone.
They listened to me breathe,
eyes narrow, waiting.


Lisa Dominguez Abraham’s poems have appeared in journals such as Southern Review, North American Reviewand Poetry East. Her collection Mata Hari Blows a Kiss won the 2016 Swan Scythe Chapbook Contest, and she is the featured writer in the Spring 2018 Suisun Valley Review. She teaches at Cosumnes River College.

Coyote Logic is published by Blue Oak Press


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez