My focus was to change the way that the body is seen. Intermingling myself in the different majors of the school, Dance, Anatomy, Arts, and Business, I brought a wealth of information wherever I brought my projects. I initially decided to illustrate multiple bodies in motion, which proved to be much more difficult than I had imagined. I wanted to impact multiple disciplines. I wanted to accomplish this by illustrating students in different fields of studies. Though I gained permission to photograph a few students, the difficulties lay in my abilities as a photographer.
I did, however, establish a location in which I can display my art, and possibly into the following semester. I want to show Medical students the power of observation applied to their studies. I will display my pieces in Boyd, to bridge that gap between Biological Medicine and Art. the two buildings are so very far from each other, I thought this might encourage students to interact with my Illustrations, (when studying last minute for a test in physiology). But in all fairness:
Medical illustration is a tool to help learn. It is more than a beautiful picture, it is a practical image.
I also wanted to promote the idea of interactions across majors to help promote our ability to communicate and induing so, our understanding of our own studies.
I had everything I needed to photograph a body in motion. I met with the Dance Team, run by Amanda Whitworth, under the agreement that I had cart blanch of the room to photograph. But every shot I took, I felt as if…I did not know how to use the camera.
Out of the 382 images, I couldn’t make one work.
However, I realized later that I have a cousin who happens to be a ballerina…who has professional photos of her dancing around Boston on her pointe shoes. She has been dancing with Kathy Blake Dance Studio since she was a child, here is a link! I could not have had a better opportunity. She agreed, and I got to work.
Another setback I experienced was my ability to complete an illustration in time to display it in its own exhibition.
I had originally planned to illustrate one image a week, which I now realize is impossible.
Despite my difficulties with this project, I pulled through it and learned quite a bit. I started out illustrating the original image, which is above. I had to use an old Opaque projector which, as amazing as it is, was very old, and needed the photo to be smaller to fit on the size paper I bought, 18×24 watercolor paper. So I had to double up the paper, taping the two together. Luckily I’m not a professional illustrator yet, so the judgments I received for doing so, weren’t that bad. The initial projecting and pencil tracing took a whole 3 hours. Trying to read the fuzzy projection and distinguishing the various muscle groups, it seemed to take forever.
But once I had the value structure established, locating the muscles was easier. The pencil marks had to remain light or the marks would be too heavy and show through my watercolor.
Then began the arduous process of mapping out the muscles. I used my copy of Frank H Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, and my anatomy book Hole’s Human Anatomy & Physiology thirteenth edition, by David Shier, Jackie Butler and, Ricki Lewis, This is a link to an old edition. Trying to draw muscles when the leg is rotated medially (towards the inside of the body) was quite difficult. I had to use my imagination a bit in order to map out her musculature.
Eventually, the muscles surfaced and I had my blueprint. I was terrified to go from here though. I loved the initial image so much that I dragged my feet in applying the paint.
I started light and began with her upturned foot, slowly trying to make the right shade, but once I started painting, I had little fear to move on to the leotard.
Her face was incredibly hard to capture. It truly is the hardest to paint an image of the people you know the most, you keep seeing their face in the way you have seen it through your life. In this case, I always saw Chelsea as the little girl dancing in a tutu on stage. I put my differences aside with the face and started erasing the groundwork of the leg muscles.
I left a residual opaque trace of my initial pencil guidelines. Before I started painting, I looked through my frank Netter book for advice on how to apply a reasonable color.
Frank Netter used a light pallet of pinks and little red highlights.
Then there was just me and Frankie (my pet name Frank Netters Atlas of Human Anatomy), on the floor of my living room. I was so tired, I could have sworn Netter was talking me through the steps. I tried to stay true to his style of painting, but instead, my hand surfaced.
By this meaning, my style surfaced, and I felt some confidence in my brush strokes. Each section had its own direction, which displayed its function. A tip from a friend who is a Nursing major helped me establish the tendons and ligaments.
She suggested that I put blue as an underpainting and overlay it with white. I still question if she’s in the right major.
As the image began to blossom, so did my confidence. I felt as if I could wake up every day and do something like this, It felt right to me. It has its challenges but they are problems I (unlike college algebra) want to solve.
The image was almost complete, just a little ways to go. At this point, I had people in and out of my house, viewing the image, and observing the process. I had explained my major to those who asked in the way that Frank Netter would have:
“THE DOCTORS CONSIDER ME AN ARTIST, AND THE ARTISTS CONSIDER ME A DOCTOR. I AM KIND OF IN THE TERRITORY BETWEEN THE TWO.” EXPLAIN HOW HE CAME TO STRADDLE BOTH WORLDS.(Netter)
This I felt I identified with and used as my explanation. I finally had contacted an old professor of mine and explained my intentions for displaying my art there, and he agreed. I finished my piece and had to then include the indication lines. That was a scary process. I had fallen in love with my complete image and was afraid that a dark line might ruin my piece, but I had to deal with my fears.Meanwhile, I started the next piece of a friend of mine. Jackson Musgrave, an enthusiastic weightlifter, marathon runner,
and Business student at Plymouth State University, agreed to let me photograph him lifting a kettlebell. The image I am currently working on shows the musculature of the upper body, i.e. arms, shoulders, neck, chest, and abdominal.
I am still in the process of
finishing this one, and, as an afterthought, I will do one more. I plan to finish this with one more drawing displaying the back muscles.
This Applied piece helped me realize, THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I found myself comfortable with the daily task of studying, and painting.
I actually had a few second thoughts on this project. I considered making them smaller, and less detailed. I considered learning how to create woodcut prints and dabbling in Lithography. My original idea was to create a three-layer illustration using a type of paper called mylar, which is a clear plastic sort of surface which would look quite interesting if I had only known what sort of medium to use. But despite these second thoughts, I am proud of what I accomplished. I also learned a few tricks during my research essay, that helped me along my process. I learned that some medical illustrators use colored pencil and white chalk to help establish the parts of the muscle that watercolor and gouache cant establish.
As for my interdisciplinary studies program, I feel that I have grown during this project. I found myself challenged at every corner and happily pushed through it to find a solution. I’m glad for the experience, and the opportunity to work among the different majors; Fine art, Art History, Anatomy, Communication, and Photography. I have successfully created a piece of medically illustrative art, that communicates anatomy and physiology, which can be used to teach, and study. I feel that I completed my goal, however how small the scale I have ended with. I consider this project to have been a success, as has this year in my endeavors in Interdisciplinary studies.
Netter, Francine M. “Francine Mary Netter.” FRANK H. NETTER, MD, Quinnapiac University Press , www.frankhnetter.com/?page_id=30.
Sheir, David N, et al. Hole’s Human Anatomy & Physiology. 13th ed., McGraw-Hill Companies, 2013.