DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2009/05/18

Anatomical Flux

Filed under: Figure Drawing: Anatomy — Tags: , , — fred @ 23:50
Facial Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Facial Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Last week I attended “Sketch Night” at “Bodies: The Exhibition“, at the South Street Seaport in New York.  This is one of those exhibits of real human cadavers, preserved by a process called plastination or polymer preservation, and variously dissected for educational display to the general public.  The Sketch Nights give artists access to the exhibit after hours for purposes of anatomical drawing and study.  The ticket price was a bit steep – more than twice as much as a session with a live model at Spring Studio.  There were introductory presentations by the Director of the exhibit and by well-known art and anatomy professor Sherry Camhy – very nice, but after all that a good chunk of the three-hour session was already used up.  We were allowed to go anywhere in the exhibit and choose the displays we wanted to sketch.  Most of the art students chose the full-body specimens showing skeletal and muscular systems (arranged mostly in corny sports poses), but I was more drawn to the exhibits that show the various patterns of flow in the body.  The drawing above was made from two separate pieces, one showing the veins of the face and head (in blue, as per the convention of anatomical illustration), and the other showing the arteries, in red.  I combined the two into one.

This is a sketch of the back of a full-body dissection showing the major nerves, which look tough and fibrous:

Nerves of the Back, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Nerves of the Back, 2009, by Fred Hatt

My favorite room in the exhibit is the one where blood vessels have been preserved and all the other tissues stripped away.  These figures look like my most manic scribbly drawings multiplied and exploded into three dimensions.  The arteries branch out treelike, the veins meander vinelike, and the capillaries are fuzzy like moss.  This quick sketch comes nowhere near the actual complexity of the specimen:

Torse Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Torso Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

On some people the veins on the inner surface of the arm are close to the surface and make bulging pathways (not on my arms – I’m a phlebotomist’s challenge!).  Here’s an arm specimen that shows these veins clearly, with the mostly deeper-lying arteries.  In this image the palm of the hand is facing us:

Arm Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Arm Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

There’s a room about embryology, with various specimens including placentas and conjoined twins, and a series of tiny translucent fetuses, with a red staining used to reveal bone development:

Fetal Bone Development

Fetal Bone Development, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Here’s the diaphragm, the dome-like muscle that aids in breathing.  Seen from the front at a low angle, it looked to me like an exotic caravan tent.  That’s the spine in the back:

Diaphragm, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Diaphragm, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Anatomy training for figurative artists tends to stop at bones and muscles and surface anatomy, but having an intuitive sense of the internal processes and flows can really enrich one’s feel for the body’s fantastically dynamic and complex structure.  Anatomy is an endless study – you’ll never know it all!

There’s one more “Sketch Night” scheduled this season at “Bodies: The Exhibition” in New York, this Thursday, May 21.

All drawings in this post are aquarelle crayon on gray paper, 70 cm x 50 cm.

NOTE:  Tomorrow I’m starting on a demanding freelance job, so I probably won’t find the time to make another blog post for at least a week.  Have patience – there will be more to come.

5 Comments »

  1. Great drawings!

    I caught “bodies” in Honolulu with my daughter-out-law.

    Comment by Jim in Alaska — 2009/05/19 @ 15:55

  2. Thank you, Jim. Those shows give the chance to observe anatomical things in three dimensions, which gives a much better understanding than two-dimensional illustrations.

    “Daughter-out-law” – that could be interpreted various ways.

    Comment by fred — 2009/05/25 @ 00:46

  3. “…that could be interpreted various ways.”

    Yes it sure can…..

    Comment by Jim in Alaska — 2009/05/28 @ 02:17

  4. glad I came across your blog – was thinking about “gifting” a sketch night for my boyfriend.

    did people bring easels and chairs? Isn’t it bulky to carry those around?

    Comment by zelary — 2009/10/22 @ 13:19

  5. When I went I just brought a backboard for my drawing paper and rested it on my knees or on one of the exhibit cases. I guess it would be possible to carry around a folding stool and a lightweight folding easel, but the time is limited. Also the lighting is all directed at the exhibits so the best thing I could suggest bringing is a portable battery-powered light. I went to a session several months ago, and I’m not sure if they’re offering this now. I would suggest contacting the exhibitors or their education office and they can answer any questions you have.

    Comment by fred — 2009/10/22 @ 13:36

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