foot notes*

My feet. Still.
More complex than I under. Stand.
Layer upon. Layer.
Points of contact. Mother Earth.
Conductors of.  Magical.


*These are my notes, written as such.

My studio skeleton sits in parts, on my drawing table. I’ve pull the hardware out, separated and laid out the bones. I take a good look at the long and elegant leg bones before moving to the feet.

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Top photo: Femur, aka the thigh bone ↑, is the longest and heaviest bone in the human body.
Bottom photo: The Tibia, aka the shin-bone, and the larger 1 of 2 bones below the knee. It takes all the weight of the body. The fibula, aka calf-bone, which has none of the strength of the tibia, forms part of the ankle joint.

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Bones are living tissue, made up of calcium phosphate and other minerals and collagen (fibers of protein). Minerals make bones hard, collagen makes them flexible. And unlike the skeleton in my studio, hardware does not hold up the skeletal system. Muscles (with the help of tendons and ligaments) hold bones together (can I call the latter software?).


The feet are my current study. Intricate. Wonderful.
The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. A total of 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body. I gather this information before I begin working. That’s a lot of stuff to organize into one composition.

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Bones of the foot – Plantar View ↓.  The top sections (above my finger)  are phalanges (love! the word). Metatarsals are the longer bones (between my fingers).
(Prior to the 16th century Vesalius called the metatarsals ossa pedi (bones of the instep), and before that Galen called the area pedian (‘the flat’ of the foot).)

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Bones of the foot – Plantar View

See the round knobby bones my finger sits on ↑ (in the drawing I circle them in green). Those are sesamoid bones (derived from the Latin sesamum – sesame seed). These small bones form in response to strain. They provide (like a pulley) a smooth surface for tendons (that bend the big toe downward) to slide over. I mull over that for a good while …wow. Sesamoid bones are found on various joints throughout the body.

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The mid foot ↑, below the metatarsals, is the area of bones forming the arches. These include the three cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone, and the navicular bone. The hindfoot forms the heel and ankle.

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Plantar View – sole of the foot

To appreciate complexity, I work a 2-sided drawing (of my feet). One side presents the sole of the feet ↑ (bones, tendons and muscles) while the flip side shows the top of the feet ↓ (nerves, arteries and veins).
(I get why Vesalius wanted to draw the body and its layers at all various angles.)

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Dorsal surface – Top of the foot

Feet: science and spirit, physical and subtle.

I hear someone say the feet have a consciousness (*bring awareness and care to your feet). They (*you) can learn how to take care of themselves (*yourself).

Stand. Be aware. Bear equal weight on all four corners of the foot – big toe mound to pinky toe mound, inner ankle to outer ankle. Align the second toe directly in front of the ankle. Then go.

Feet guide the knees and hips, acting as anchors to the earth.
They absorb.
They help us to ground and recharge (more than 7000 nerve endings – think about that!)

 

 

 

 

setting the foundation and opening to grace

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For many years I studied a Yoga that began each practice with the words set the foundation and open to grace. In general, setting the foundation has to do with the body parts that touch the floor, while opening to grace becomes the mental underpinning for each posture. Think intention and receptivity – alignment between physical and mental
(the heart comes into it all but I won’t get into that now).

The last few weeks I’ve laid out the foundation for a new work on paper. It is a life-size study of my father. One could think with as many skeletal systems as I’ve drawn, this part would be easy. It’s not. It begins the commitment to carefully observe and render detail. This is the start of my 7th full-body portrait work.

Last week I outlined the form, set the clavicles, ribcage and some of the backbone. My dad has a broken clavicle and he has a large ribcage. Now I work on sacrum, pelvis, legs and feet. I spend most of the day working on the structure of the feet. I’m setting foundation. I don’t know how I’ll do this but I intend to keep the bones as the focal point of the composition.

The bones support and protect the organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells, store minerals and enable mobility. At birth we have over 270 bones and as we enter adulthood we have 206.

Bones symbolize foundation and are associated with enduring truth.

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Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly rediscover the world. I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, a sheer miracle.”     Frederick Franck – The Zen of Seeing


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I bought a full size human skeleton last month. I am compelled to return to basics. I take the hand and lower arm bones off and bring them to my desk so I can really look at them. The finger bones are the phalanges, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that’s one of my favorite words. The long arm bones you see here are the ulna and radius. The hand also includes bones called metacarpals (palm of the hand) and carpals (wrist).

I’ve never used vellum so I  decide to work with it. I bring out graphite and color pencils. The vellum takes all my erasing. I like a smooth surface that takes a pencil mark well.

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The bones – we feel them but they are hidden from our eyes – I consider this as I draw. I’m not complete with this study, I’ll continue another day.

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I’ve focused on and painted complex anatomy for a few years now. I still get excited about coming back to and drawing simple foundation. I still love a pencil. And vellum – I’m not sure I can get a smoother surface than that – is a fine choice.

In January I’ll facilitate a workshop for art students. I’ve been asked to focus on human anatomy. Maybe this will lead to the lesson plan for that.

bones, art, and other things interesting

My work allows me many opportunities. Take these photos for instance …

On my last dental visit I conversed (albeit awkward) with Melissa, the dental hygienist who cleans my teeth. She asked what I did for a living. What sort of subject-matter do you draw? When I told her, she wondered if I might like a copy of my x-rays.
Well….yeah.
She pulled them up again,  identified details, gave me extra info about teeth, nerves, and pointed out the sinuses.  The string-like shapes fascinate me. The head and neck areas are really interesting, she noted.

When the dentist came in he told me about the varying structure of the tissues of the body. He expressed the value in drawing for the purpose of learning.  He’s correct, I know.

A few years back, I was invited to the Barrows Neurological Institute, here in Phoenix.
It was a turning point for my work.  I saw slides of fluid and body … stuff. Things appeared as solid black ground, with bright shapes and strings floating through it.  I learned that the bright colors were not natural. They were injected ink, so one could see the matter: cells, both good and bad, and yes … cancer. They appeared as worlds of silence and wonder, what I might imagine outer space like.

While there I ran into someone else I knew. She invited me into her lab and showed me DNA sequence.

Since then I’ve purchased many anatomy books and taken anatomy classes. I’ve really looked at and studied the body and it’s parts (both eastern and western studies).  It’s not a machine which I sometimes liken it to…it’s soft, vulnerable, intricate working and so perfect in its design.

Who created this? – I still wonder.

Today I am in Dr. Richard Shindell’s office. He is a leading valley Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. He’s married to artist Mary Shindell.  To say Rick’s an interesting guy, is an understatement. They met in art school of all places. I can tell you about furniture he’s built for the Roosevelt Row galleries. My husband can tell you about the hot rod cars Rick builds.  Here – go to his website bio –  and read about him yourself. His talents are many. He’s a fine surgeon and quite respected.

I’m here to see x-ray light boxes he has available for sale.

Mary takes me through the office.  The rooms are full of art.  The waiting room has a
Roy Wasson Valle print (you know…Fuzzy Balls) in it. A Shindell in the background. Patient rooms are brightly colored and filled with original works.

I need to focus. And I sort of do – in what appears to be the x-ray room.

I’ve considered painting the back body.  I’m not certain it’s visually all that interesting. Mary disagrees. She shows me these framed x-rays. They catch my attention. The spinal column holds great visual rhythm.  The kidneys show up from behind, quiet and subtle.

Rick’s office holds extraordinary things.  Though, not so extraordinary if you work with the bones of the body.

I see the feet and I think of being grounded and having support.  I want to do a drawing focusing on that stuff.

How many people do you know, that have a pelvic girdle sitting on their desk?  I want it.  The pelvis has such elegant contour, and holds beautiful form.

After all the visual stimulation…we get to the light boxes.  That’s why I’m here after-all. They’re cool. I’ll plan to have a bit more of that part of the visit in our [Creature, Man and Nature] blog.  Right now…I have to file this afternoon into my brain. It’s too valuable.

In the midst of all this, Mary and I see a collaborative opportunity. We need to see what Carolyn thinks.

Thanks Mary.  Thanks Rick.