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

nosce te ipsum (know thyself)

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The area I complete this week is a long 45 x 7″ strip that sits across a lower part of my current composition. The study is of my father. I said earlier that he’s always had strong physical presence. I imply this by including details of basic tissue like muscle and adipose.

I want to include bone tissue. He broke few bones, the wrist in particular, while riding a motorcycle. I recall he cut the cast of himself. His wrist healed slightly crooked. I think he liked that. I drew bone tissue in my mothers image. I want to do something different – connective tissue feels right here instead.

There are 3 types of muscle tissue in the human body so I study and draw out each. And the adipose tissue I finished yesterday, is the first detail below.

IMG_7393Adipose tissue ↑, better known as body fat, located beneath the skin, around the organs, in the bone marrow and in breast tissue. The small composition includes the 2 types: white (WAT) and brown (BAT). Its main role is to store energy, it also cushion and insulates the body. I have a tendency to run cold, even here in Phoenix. I’ll think of my BAT next time I’m shivering.

IMG_7394

This second study ↑ is Cardiac Muscle, unique in that it relies on blood and electrical supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste product. It is almost completely reliant on oxygen to function.

This next study below is of cartilage ↓.

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And the last image is smooth muscle tissue.

IMG_7391While researching I learn general information about muscles and connective tissues is relatively lacking in ancient and medieval anatomy. We don’t see any real study occur until the Renaissance.

Enter Leonardo, who combines observation of the living with dissections of the dead. And Versalius, who publishes a book titled On the Fabric of the Human Being. Valverde combines images of muscles with the adage Nosce te ipsum (Know thyself). Later on muscles are studied in connection to motion, not only in the body, but in the world. Descartes describes muscles and tendons as devices and springs which seem to set nerves in motion , giving the body machine like association. And I find Blavatsky’s words, that basically usher us into the 20th century – Man is a little world-a microcosm inside the great universe…in the matrix of the macrocosmos…He is in it as it is in him…

I teach college level drawing. Sometimes I think I’d like to teach anatomy class. I would have students draw out parts and relate them to systems, and then to themselves. It would not be a science class. I am not sure it would even be an art class. It would be a class for the lay person wanting to know themselves more fully.