is it about the body?

Every square inch of the human form is a world unto itself, much of which cannot be seen with the naked eye. All of it can be felt though, especially when you simply pay some attention to it. By touring a body in detail, it is possible to build up your own, and embrace all of those nooks and crannies, some abandoned, some unnoticed for so many years. Home sweet home ~ Gil Hedley


I drew out the complete contour of the body, and then I set structure into that – the bones and muscles.  Now I organize major organs. I feel like I am filling up a container, especially because the figure is hand-standing and coming together from the ground up. I have to pay close attention because I continue to get disoriented. I have access to a full skeleton which helps when I lose grounding.
I occasionally hand stand, to feel out whatever confuses me. Thinking is not working now. It’s too much.

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This morning while practicing asana, I wondered about the various structures of the body and how separately they don’t hold up. Bones have weight but they don’t move without muscle. muscle by itself won’t hold form. And the organs without containment, I imagine … could spill everywhere. Together they interact, support, and strengthen – but how does it all actually work? What moves them / me? Where does vitality emanate ? What animates … me?

I’ll be moving into the legs on the first figure. Then I’ll begin the other figure. The cat is almost complete, though I’m sure to play with her a bit more.

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upside down, right side up, in a human or in a cat – I have learned to identify the bones

“One has no right to love or hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature. Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all.”

― Leonardo da Vinci


I have a general idea of what I want to carry out, but don’t know how or when I’ll get there. Though I trust I will. The groundwork for this piece requires that I break down and clearly understanding not only the body, but the pull in its structure.

I recall my undergrad anatomy professor as she pointed out the bones and identified them by name. Impressed by her understanding of the skeleton, I imagined then I could never point and identify the bones. Today as I work in the studio, I hear on the radio that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice makes an expert. I haven’t worked that much on the bone structure, but at this point  I believe I could comfortably teach an anatomy class.

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I am working on a drawing that shows a female figure in hand-stand. She is being supported by another figure, his hand above her one foot, so she can press into and locate balance. I mention in an earlier post how in this posture hands become like feet. You carry the weight on fingers, hand and wrist bones called phalanges, metacarpals, and carpals. I like the word phalange. Move up the arm and the bones you locate are the ulna and radius, and in the upper arm is the humerus. I add the collar bones or the clavicles. Right now I have in place the esophagus and trachea above the jaw bone or the mandible.

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I outline ribcage and pelvis before I focus on the lower extremities of each figure. We think of leg as the entire area between the hip and the foot but technically the leg is the area below the knee cap or patella and ankle. This always surprises me. It consists of the larger tibia and smaller fibula. The feet include toe, foot and ankle bones called phalanges, metatarsals and tarsals. I’ll tell you more about those and the hand bones another day. For now, I’ll say I’m happy to refer to phalanges a number of times. I place the largest bone in the body which is the thigh bone or the femur. Then I return to the pelvis, and detail the hip bone area including the tail bone, or the coccyx and the sacrum or the base of the spine. Finally I define some back bone or spinal column and rib cage which includes the breastbone and ribs – all of which extend up and out of the pelvis.

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I include a cat in the composition. I can name her bones too, the majority of which  coincide with human bones.

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A handstand is likened to a world gone upside down. Learning to stand on my hands pulled up loads of fear. When I began studying yoga, over a decade ago – I might have left the room when the pose was called out. Now I do them regularly. I doubt I have put in 10,000 hours of that either. Practicing hand-stand is a great barometer to how one feels on any given day, or any given year.  It teaches so much.

Drawing the figure right-side-up and upside-down, front and side views – has taught me a lot too.  I wish everyone the opportunity.

Next : muscles and organs.

coming to be

New work. Completed on BFK Rag. The  28″ x 20″ mixed media on paper is sitting on my easel, waiting to get signed and titled.  No name for it yet. Part of new series “Creative Structure.”

Composition evolved from a larger work, a 6′ x 7′ canvas, that was much more monochromatic. Went from very large to moderately small. Unusual evolution for my pieces. Usually start very small on paper, to eventual moderately large on canvas.

Wanted to work with color and paint with various mediums: casein, gouache and egg tempera. Also wanted to mark make.  Latter wish comes from watching my students draw right now.  The whole process of teaching charcoal always comes into my studio work somehow, including working on paper and some dry, monochromatic element, in this case graphite.

Finished work appeared slowly,  September 18th to November 21st. Took many turns. Probably could have stopped several times and called it done. Though, really was looking for a certain quality, a sort of  alive composition, and depth. Steady thought, steady mark. Brush stroked color and fine line silver graphite.

Here is how it came to be. Complete.  Living with it a for a while before I name it.