see one do one teach one

Video

This week I learn about the methodology See One, Do One, Teach One, especially used in the medical world for teaching and/or learning through direct observation. The process can be applied to most any form of education. It feels particularly natural to the Fine Arts and reminds me of an apprenticeship.

While I did go to art school, some of my best teachers were the ones who let me work in the studio with them.

I was introduced to printmaking by artist Kurt Kemp. Kurt began his teaching career in my last year at UTEP. I needed one final Drawing class and an elective, day and time were issues for me. As luck (and kindness) would have it, he allowed me to sign up for his advanced independant studio classes. I was drawing in the early morning, and ending the evening with printmaking. I’d never printed at that point, though it melded naturally with drawing. Kurt loan me tools. He taught me to get rich black, printed marks using a hand-made mezzotint rocker on a sheet of copper. I can still hear him say Don’t drop it! This one is my own personal rocker. I’ve had it for years (yikes!).

I fell in love with drawing, copper plates, BFK paper, ripped edges, the smell of ink and all things drawing and printmaking (yes, art-making heightens all the senses). And I redirected my studies, 3D to 2D. Eventually attending NMSU for graduate school, I continued printmaking with Spencer Fiddler, whom like Kurt, had at one time worked under the great Mauricio Lasansky.  I watched both of these men make their ink from raw material, both were sensitive to the tarlatan clothe, the inking and the final printing of their copper plates.

But I digress…
I sure didn’t expect to take this trip down memory lane today, nor while creating a quick video on drawing a neuron, a few days back.

Back to drawing…
I rip a piece of heavy duty black drawing paper (deckled edges) and video tape about 34 seconds of the process as I lay in my subject, a neuron. I turn the video off to work freely, hoping to move easy and steady.
(Note: The video, I use as a means to practice focus, quick-decision mark-making, and  loosen up.)

I’m looking to balance the study with both play and accuracy by its final stage.

I stop moving quickly. I fuss with materials, edges and lines. I probably work a little more than an hour to get the first layout. A few more to get the second set up. The next day I work the composition to a final stage (btw…this drawing of a neuron is small!)

I decide the image expresses a control balanced by a loose and playful quality.

Which is probably why I think about Kurt and Spencer today.

My first study above, is a neuron. My smaller, second composition below, done in similar process, is the neuron’s supporting cell called a glial cell.

#BackInTheStudio #It’sBeenAToughSummer #UrBeautifulBrain #LiveAndLearn #SeeOneDoOneTeachOne

1 & 2 / olfactory and optic

I’m still in the brain, at the bottom of the top (inferior view), looking at the cranial nerves (CN1 and CN2).

Learning the olfactory nerve is cranial nerve #1 (CN1). Really? Cuz I thought for sure it was #2!

Tiny sensory nerve(s) of smell 
you are
cranial nerve(s) number one.

Olfactory nerves (CN1)

I wish I knew where I read a kiss evolved from a sniff.
One can tell a lot from sniffing another…

Optic nerve, cranial nerve #2 (CN2), for me you are (will always be) #1.

eyeballs
see

optic disk
point of exit
small blind spot

optic nerve
channel site
connects brain to eye


optic chiasm
evolution suggests you’re a turning point
X marks the spot

I’m enjoying the details…


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

macrophage – large. eating. cell.

Laying out and studying a white blood cell called a macrophage (Greek makrós – large, phagein – to eat).

macrophage

Big eater, what’s your specialty?

Macrophage, your lot belongs to the immune system. You are King of the Phagocytes. Phagocytes are cells that protect the body by absorbing/eliminating harmful particles, bacteria and dead or dying cells. M1 macrophages attack invaders (microbes) by creating an area of inflammation around them. Perhaps you keep pathogens from spreading? M2 macrophages decrease inflammation and encourage tissue repair.

Side note…
Based on this, can I make 2 simple assumptions? Can I deduce chronic inflammation signifies organ or tissue has been invaded by a pathogen or there is injury?

Macrophage, you can take up residence in specific organs. For example, they call you Microglia in the CNS,  you are a Kupffer cell in the liver, and Adipose tissue macrophage in Adipose tissue. And other macrophages, like scavengers, you wander the body cleaning it up.

You remove dying or dead cells and cellular debris by engulfing pathogens and digest/destroying them. Sometimes a pathogen sabotages your process and decides to live inside of you. In the case of the latter, the immune system doesn’t have a clue (or does it?) as the invader begins to replicate itself.

macrophage with bacteria and debris

I know you a little better because I’ve drawn you. You are as intimidating as you are beautiful.


Postscript:
Right now I am looking at the relationship between gut bacteria ( the microbiome) and adipose tissue. Here now enters the immune system. The reason I took the time to draw out and investigate the macrophage (I don’t pretend to understand.) is because I made a connection to the microglia in the brain.
I was studying the brain (My father lives with Alzheimer’s Disease.) last summer. I keep thinking and saying I will go back to the brain when I finish whatever I am currently working on…but as it is…it really is all connected.
#SmallPictureIsBigPicture #Connections #Art #Life #Science


©2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

art on a cellular level

What:    Art on a Cellular Level
Where:  Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Terminal 4, Level 3 Gallery
When:   Now!
Opened June 29, 2019 and runs through January 12, 2020

Portrait of Pillar

Arizona artists include:
Alan Bur Johnson, Jerome AZ
Bill Dambrova, Phoenix, AZ
Danielle Wood, Tempe, AZ
Jesse Armstrong, Gilbert, AZ
Kathryn Maxwell, Tempe, AZ
Mary Meyer, Gold Canyon, AZ
Monica Aissa Martinez, Phoenix, AZ

Science and art have a lot in common. Driven by curiosity, both fields involve exploration and discovery. Relying on observation, scientists and artists both attempt to understand and describe the world around us. They strive to see things in new ways and to communicate that vision.
While science may embody the rational, art expresses the aesthetic. This exhibition presents the work of seven artists that draw inspiration from the natural environment. With an interest in living organisms, these artists create works that celebrate the richness of life on our planet.

Artists, like scientists, utilize processes to make the unseen visible. They imaginatively represent things that we would need a microscope to see. From molecular structures of DNA to patterns of organic forms to the intricacies of human anatomy, these artists draw, paint, sculpt or construct Art on a Cellular Level.

Couple in front of the work of Bill Dambrova.

Over the 4th of July holiday while traveling, I enjoy watching people move through the space. ↑

I meet an emergency medic and his wife, who talk to me about the vegus nerve and the breath. ↓

The Phoenix Airport Museum is one of the largest airport art programs in the United States.
More → Sky Harbor Museum

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

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

micro to macro

“The task of the right eye is to peer into the telescope,
while the left eye peers into the microscope.” 

I understand this quote from artist (Sorceress of Mexico) Leonora Carrington more after a periodic table of elements makes its way into my drawing last week.


January 6, 2019
What are you eating these days Carolyn?

Raw honey is big. Radishes, apples, especially pink ladies, and I juice an orange nearly every day. Now we are in grapefruit season so I am adding that.  I also eat a lot of tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and cabbage. And I eat a bit of radicchio everyday. Love it. And every day is guacamole. Potatoes are nearly every day. Sprouts are every day. Sage is nearly every day. Seaweed mostly Dulse everyday. And lots of asparagus and Brussel sprouts. Lots of grapes, raspberries, mushrooms and bell peppers. Greens every day. Haha, enough?

She doesn’t mention celery juice. Nor does she say anything about the cilantro she hands me as a snack almost every time I visit lately.

Carolyn is not necessarily raw Vegan, though she’s post radiation treatment and is still in cleanse mode.

Grounding the composition in fruits and vegetables, I gather bits of nutritional value for a few of them, to share on social media. They are like small vignettes with running text – easy and informative.
#FoodAsMedicine #MyQuickNotes #Education #InCaseYou’reCurious

#DrawingCelery. ❤️#JuicingCelery.#FoodAsMedicine Vitamin K, folate, potassium, fiber, manganese, pantothenic acid, B12, B6, calcium phosphorus, magnesium, flavonoids, carotenoids (VitA), non-starchy polysaccharides (pectin), apiuman (#anti-inflammatory!),  #antioxidant! #phytonutrient!

🐝 #pollen as #medicine. #Raw 🍯 is honey as it exists in the hive (contains pollen). 22 amino acids, 31 minerals and plenty of vitamins and enzymes. Micronutrients acting as antioxidants reduce inflammation, lower risk of ❤️ disease and some cancers. #BeesRock. #Raw ❤️🐝🍯

🍎medicine: Increases acetylcholine (an essential neurotransmitter 👈🏼), strong 💪🏻 antioxidant, she holds B-Complex maintaining ur blood cells and again ur nervous system, she offers good ole VitC, and plenty phytonutrients (protection from free radicals), some fiber, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Call her 🍎miracle fruit. 1 a day (or 2) x years = nutritional powerhouse. Avoid the seeds. These are #PinkLadyApples #justeatit

Tomato. 🍅 Or is it tomatl (Nahuatl)? This berry may have originated in Mexico. The Spanish encountered the 🍅 from their contact w the Aztec. #Mesoamerican #antioxidant #lycopene #vitaminC #potassium #folate #vitaminK Sketching tomatls in the am.

🥒 Cucumber medicine: Benefits skin, eye health, balances body’s PH level, eliminates bad-odor causing bacteria (bad breath), good for ur ligaments, cartilage, tendons, bones, hair, supports neurological function, has anti-cancer properties, supports normal flora and peel is beneficial too. I could go on. Who knew the list was this long! And it’s a fruit. Slice it, juice it. #Hydration #FoodAsMedicine Draw it 🥒 Paint it 🥒

#dandelion #greens #medicine #bitterherb Interesting thing about this ‘weed’ – every part of her is considered medicinal including root. This one came from my neighbors yard. #anti inflammatory #anti carcinogenic #anti-oxidative Easier to eat than to draw.

Drawing #radish today. #FoodAsMedicine. Holding #sulfur #vitC #fiber = anti-fungal, anti-cancer and digestion aid. Interesting thing about the radish – its companion plant is the cucumber. They thrive best growing near each other. #Ayurveda #TCM

I not only consider the elements found in the body but also the make-up of the food that sustains it. Enter: The periodic table of elements.

Red squares represent elements that compose our human body while fewer warm tones represent trace elements. I include symbol and atomic number.

I add in a few microorganisms, bacteria ↓ in this case.

And maybe archaea (pointing to time past) ↓.

And here are things 22 days later…


On a morning run, I listen to a lecture on the periodic table. The information really  does take my attention from microscope to telescope. Minutes later I come across side-walk chalk-art.
#Cosmic #BigBang #WeAreOne

i draw beautiful whipworms (note to self – these are parasites)

What a nice surprise to hear from María Adelaida. I’m pleased to learn she keeps an eye on my work as she notes my recent activity on microorganisms.

I know María from years back (2008-09). She is a biologist originally from Colombia, she’s in the valley working for the Mayo Clinic when I meet her at a friends party. She attends one of my art openings before moving to Germany to continue her education.

These days she lives in the UK and works at the Sanger Institute. Her current research is intestinal parasitic worms that cause neglected tropical diseases with a huge impact on children.

She has an idea for collaboration that includes a public engagement project.  Does she know how often I think about opportunity to engage with the public? It’s on my mind a lot especially after my summer artist residency at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Maria Adelaida’s research is the Whipworm and Trichuriasis.

We talk about art as a form of communication. She talks about her work reaching a new audience. I enjoy the idea of my work reaching a different audience as well. She speaks STEM, I bring the A in and speak STEAM.

I’m intrigued. Can you send photos of these whipworms?

She sends a series of electron microscope images. Oooooh! The first ones, in black and white, defined and beautiful, show the marking and pattern of the male worm. He appears to float in stillness (I don’t imagine the intestines are a quiet place. Are they?)

Soon I receive a Powerpoint of larvae that is out of the eggs, she says, in the presence of bacteria. (I can’t identify the bacteria.) And then more photos patterned and stained bright show the internal structure of an adult female whipworm infecting the cecum of a mouse. A transversal section shows the eggs.

I make time to get to my drawing table. I want to better understand what I see.

Cecum, Eggs and my imagination.

I spend a day drawing the cecum, a pouch connecting the small and large intestine. I imagine the area with little light (dark) so I take my drawing into a filter and play with it ↑.

Cecum is from the Latin caecus and means blind – blind intestine, blind gut or cul de sac.
Maria identifies the super beautiful cecum epithelia and explains it is only a single layer of cells, that is folded in ‘crypts’ to maximize the area. 

I note the eggs. I wonder how long they take to hatch. (Is this the correct language? Do they hatch?)

I spend a few days looking at photos and drawing worms. Yes, they do resemble a whip.

The female is larger than the male. I’m surprised to know the thinner narrower end of the worm is where the mouth is located while the wider end is its rear.

I take the image into a filter and again imagine the inside of the large intestine.

I get lost in the drawing.  I have to remind myself these are parasites that cause serious problems to the host. #DrawingInProcess #2sided


I learn from Dr María A Duque-Correa whipworm infection causes Trichuriasis, which affects millions of children around the world. Her goal is to more fully understand the initial stages of the epithelia infection by the larvae, a crucial step that determines whether the worms are expelled or remain in the gut causing chronic disease. In the long term, this knowledge will help to develop vaccines and discover drugs to fight whipworm infections.

Here is one of her public engagement programs → Worm Hunters.

Crossing my fingers that we will work together in the future.

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).

microscopic organisms in my studio (here, there and everywhere)

In a recent interview Nicole begins by asking, “Who are you and what do you do?” I wonder if she knows I consider these questions all the time.

Who am I? What am I? What is this world? What is my relationship to it?

This summer, as artist-in-residence at the Tempe Center for the Arts, I study and draw out  the incredible human brain. My answer (to the set up of questions) then, could go something like – I am a nervous system. I am neurons and glia firing up a brain. 

As of recent I study microorganisms: bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea and protists. Today – I am an (human) organism made up of (hosting) micro (too small to see without magnification) organisms.

Note: My series of compositions include external and internal views and are ginormous considering…

In the course of this current interest (more like revelation) in microorganisms, I come across a virus that takes me back to the residency research where I look at the healthy brain and the diseased brain (In general I looked at Dementia, in particular I tried to understand Alzheimer’s Disease).

Meet M13 (Munich13), a bacteriophage (or simply a phage).

External (proteins)

A phage is a virus that infects and replicates within bacteria. M13 invades E Coli.

M13 catches my attention when I come across an article explaining how the virus dissolves (in laboratory studies) amyloid-beta plaques and tao tangles.  #combatneurodegenerativedisease  #Alzheimer’s  #Parkinson’s. #Huntington’s
#Creutzfeldt-Jakob

Here (↑ ↓) you have my best interpretation of the M13 filamentous bacteriophage.

Internal structure (composed of a single stranded DNA molecule encased in a thin flexible tube (protein coat)

…Life (microscopic organisms) in the studio (here, there and everywhere).

#microorganisms #microbiota #humanmicrobiome #weareone

archaea/m.smithii – old/new

Methanobrevibacter smithii, AKA M. smithii, member of Archaea domain, I don’t know of you before this. I feel bad considering you are descendants of the oldest life in existence.

Archaea derives from the Greek word achaios, meaning ancient or primitive.

M. smithii look how beautiful you are…

The single-celled microorganism Methanobrevibacter smithii,  the most abundant  archaeon in the human gut, aids in digestion of complex sugars. These microbes are a hydrogenotroph (consumes hydrogen) and a methanogen (produces methane). Yes, they are manufacturers of gas!

Methano refers to its connection with methane, and brevibacter means short rod. There appears to be an association between gas production and body weight. M. Smithii may influence weight gain and loss (anorexia) as well as constipation.

These microorganisms are prokaryotes having no cell nucleus (or any other membrane-bound organelle). Archaea, in general, are unique in that they have a distinct biochemistry.

About archaea and life…
They’ve been around for about 4 billion years! They’re resilient, truly thriving between order and chaos, proving life creative – even in time of crisis.

#history #inthebeginning #theytookabreath

 

white becoming white

Candida albicans, member of the Saccharomycetaceae (yeast) family as well as the human microbial community, I especially enjoy painting you fungus. I wasn’t planning on it, but maybe I’ll draw another member of your fungi kingdom.


The word Candida comes from the Latin candidus, meaning white. Albicans derives from the Latin word albicō, meaning becoming white. White becoming white.

Man, are we loaded with bugs! I never gave this stuff a thought…by stuff I mean the variety of microorganisms, including candida, holding microscopic space in the human body.

This fungus is most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth (in at least 80% of the worldwide population). In some circles Candida aids in food digestion and absorption, while in other circles (the out of control circles?) it’s known as an opportunistic pathogen.

Candida albicans under the microscope.

The fungus (yeast) is naturally  found in the human body, primarily in the intestine, colon and mouth. Out of control, it can attack skin and mucous membranes. It can also travel through  the blood stream and affect kidneys, heart, lungs, throat and heart-valves. (Is this what it means to be metabolically flexible?)

cellular structure.

C. albicans is an eukaryotic organism. It’s structure includes a cell wall (which seems an important aspect to this microorganism), nucleus, ribosomes and mitochondria. I don’t know what it means when I read hyphae sense reproductive units from a distance and grow towards them but it makes me think of an electric pull.

I appreciate the lace-like quality of the organic form. The long branches, called hyphae (web) with their circular budded tip, appeal to me. This subject-matter is visually elegant and playful. Candida itself, complicated.

Here is what I wonder:
Candida albicans are commensal. We eat at the same table? I take this to mean they consume what the human host consumes. Yes? Or do they eat what the host discards?  Mutually beneficial?
Is C. albicans overgrowth always seen as an attack on the body? Can the out of control set up be a warning sign of another imbalance (other microbes) in the human body? 

#Microbiota #NewToMe #LoveDrawingMicroorganisms

twisted and seedy bacteria – you are streptococci

I work H. Pylori bacteria a few weeks ago so why do I feel the need to mess with Streptococcus? Bacteria is bacteria – or is it? Maybe it’s all about location…

Strepto from Ancient Greek: streptós, means easily twisted, pliant. Coccus from Modern Latin: coccus, from Ancient Greek: kókkos, translates to grain, seed, berry.

My painting goes through too many mutations for several reasons including that at times I don’t care for the look and feel of the surface, the heavy line work is not a preference and again, I discover filters.

Streptococci (plural) forms in pairs or chains. My compositions focus on their spherical quality, otherwise you’d see connecting chain-like or bead-like forms moving across the picture plane.

I work with smooth mylar to play with the translucent quality and glossy surface. What am I thinking to lay in a gesso black ground? Everything goes opaque, contrast is high and I lose a natural lightness. I rework and overwork.

Frustrated, it feels right to cut the bacteria out and seal it into a petri-dish. I enjoy holding it (with my cotton gloves).

The internal structure of streptococcus bacteria.

The external structure of streptococcus bacteria.

A few weeks ago a friend comments about streptococcus bacteria and its relationship to heart problems (aortic valve). It leaves an impression. I know then I’ll draw the bacteria.

Streptococci can live in the mouth, nose, throat, upper respiratory tract, intestine, genital tract, and on the skin. Particular strains can cause pink eye, meningitis, endocarditis and necrotizing fasciitis. Its trouble causing span feels much too broad, from the not so serious to the deadly serious. It surprises me to learn its nonmotile. It doesn’t move?! (Unlike H. Pylori with its flagella.)

I do move…
Yesterday, I don’t like these studies. Today, is a brand new day and I like them after all. Next: Fungi.


PS: I can’t write very much about the microorganisms I study. While I understand some things in general, I don’t understand things in particular. It’s a whole new (microscopic) world.

I look at microbiota – in hope of gaining insight into the human microbiome.  I hear microbial cells, in and on our body, outnumber our human cells 10-1 (statistics seem to vary – what do I know).  But what does this all mean in terms of our genes? What rules – the human or the microbial?

The most valuable thing that happens as I continue to work is I make connections to things I understand or thought I understood.  Let’s see how it works itself out of me.

In the meantime, I love the tiny stuff I’m drawing. I just wish I’d gone bigger with the microorganisms. I tell my drawing students regularly – it’s easier to work large than it is to work small. Right now I feel like the latter is the only thing I know for certain (but this too can change).

gene with a protein coat

All living things need their instruction manual (even nonliving things like viruses) and that is all they need, carried in one very small suitcase.
L.L. Larison Cudmore

The capsid, a protein shell, holds DNA.

Epstein-Barr, a microscopic organism of the Virus family, A.K.A. EBVand most commonly known as the human herpesvirus.

The microscopic organism known to cause mononucleosis (glandular fever) is also associated to a variety of cancers, autoimmune diseases as well as neurological (brain) disorders.

Virus, from Latin, means slimy-liquid poison or poisonous-noxious liquid. Is there a need for this microscopic organism, that has to hijack living cells (ours!) to replicate itself, to exist? Every single time I look for information about EBV (or viruses in general) I feel myself go down a rabbit hole.

EBV (in petri-dish)

I want to draw…

I enjoy the variety of mark-making the slimy-liquid poison allows.
I do feel a need to keep the composition contained.

Structure of EBV (in petri-dish).

The final study expresses both external and internal structures of the virus. I set DNA inside the nucleocapsid (protein shell with a geometric design) and include the viral matrix (colorful clusters of more protein).

I take the design and play with it. All the while I wonder why a virus that appears to become more aggressive with time, still exists.

Gene with a protein coat – Organism at the edge of life…Did humans create you? Are humans strengthening you? Are you alive or not? Can we put an end to you? Will we put an end to you? When?

a bacterium – the coiled gatekeeper

Meet Helicobacter pylori, AKA H. pylori – a bacterium found in the mucous lining of the stomach (in at least 50% -60% of the world’s population).

External (top image) and internal (bottom image) study of H. pylori bacteria.

Helicobacter from the Greek, means spiral or coil. Pylori related to pylouros, the opening or junction leading from the stomach into the duodenum, also from the Greek, translates to gatekeeper.

My studies include bacterial cell basics: plasma membrane, cell wall, ribosomes, cytoplasm and nucleoid (no enclosed nucleus).

H.Pylori: external (top), internal structures (bottom)

I remember once-upon-a-time studying single-celled organisms. I always liked the word flagella and still it manages to get my attention (determines compositional layout). The whip-like appendages support locomotion (moving, pushing, swimming) and are also sensitive to temperature and chemistry.

I wonder – in the case of  H. pylori – should this particular microorganism really be on the move? 

Flagella – a whip-like appendage.

I work from images that include the pili (another cool word…related to pilus and Latin for hair) while other photos suggest the bacteria to be a smooth coil. In each study I take liberty with color and I include the hair-like pili in one drawing, for the added rhythmic line and texture.

Some of my favorite bacteria (in name only) have a lot in common (of course they do, they’re bacteria). To my untrained (in bacteria) eyes (perhaps even to the trained eye) my study of H. pylori could resemble E-Coli. Perhaps one might even pass for Lactobacillus and another for Salmonella.

As my study evolves – Surface of bacteria

The human body (yours and mine) is home to loads of (100 trillion) bacteria.  We host colonies of microorganisms! They live in us and on us.

Are they harmful? They can be. Are they beneficial? They might be. For example, H. pylori in the stomach can lead to duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer. Did I mention this particular bacteria adapts to an acidic environment? Note – it does not always produce disease.

Process photos… study continues to evolve…internal structure of bacteria

I think about the creative process a lot, laying out careful design only to sometimes rub it out quickly. It is, for me, a continuous mix of control and freedom.

Helicobacter pylori, Coiled Gatekeeper, are you a natural expression of the creative process?


Back in the studio…
I am in the stomach with this bacteria. I plan to look at viruses, fungi and archaea too. Let’s see where they take me. At some point I will be returning to the brain – with a new perspective.
#GutBrainAxis #Microbiome