Sunday, March 2, 2014

Posterior Torso Anatomical Figure Drawing Workshop


The next Anatomical Figure Drawing workshop at the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts has been scheduled! This workshop will focus on the anatomy of the posterior torso, which includes bony landmarks of the spine and scapula and the complex musculature of the back. It will be held on Sunday, March 23 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Like the others, this workshop includes three hours of intensive figure drawing from a live model and a simultaneous lecture on the associated anatomy, including identification of bony and muscular surface landmarks, comparison of these to anatomical images, and discussion of each feature's variations. We will have a fantastic model with a very defined physique.



Each workshop is $40, which covers the instruction, the space, and the model. Class size is limited to 12, and a supply list will be emailed to you upon registration. I would love to see you there! To register, go to the sign-up page here, or click on the image above.

The Palette and Chisel is located at 1012 N. Dearborn in Chicago. It is easily accessible from either the red or brown el trains and from the CTA bus. Parking within a few blocks is also fairly easy on Sunday mornings.

For more information about this workshop series, check out the original post about it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Workshop Scheduled! Anatomical Landmarks of the Anterior Torso

Hello all! Just a quick post to say my next Anatomical Figure Drawing workshop at the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts has been scheduled. Like the other workshops, this includes three hours of intensive figure drawing from a live model and a simultaneous lecture on the associated anatomy, including identification of bony and muscular surface landmark, comparison of these to anatomical images, and discussion of each feature's variations.



This workshop will focus on anatomy of anterior torso, which includes rib cage, clavicular, and sternal features and well as muscles of the chest and abdomen. It will be held on February 23 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. (Again, coffee is available just a few doors down!) We will have a fantastic model with a very defined physique.

For more information about this workshop series, check out the original post about it.

The Palette and Chisel is located at 1012 N. Dearborn in Chicago. It is easily accessible from either the red or brown el trains and from the CTA bus. Parking within a few blocks is also fairly easy on Sunday mornings.

Each workshop is $40, which covers the instruction, the space, and the model. Class size is limited to 12, and a supply list will be emailed to you upon registration. I would love to see you there! To register, go to the sign-up page here, or click on the image above.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Human Anatomy for the Artist Workshop Series in Chicago!

Happy 2014, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely 2013 that included plenty of friends, family, fun, and, of course, figure drawing. We Chicagoans are greeting the new year in bitter cold; we woke up to a soul-gripping (not to mention nostril-gripping) -9° this morning. I'm grateful to have a break from teaching for another few days. But as tempting as it is to stay home and huddle over the warmth of my laptop, this time of year also makes me want to gather together with friends and colleagues more often. Perhaps this is an instinct that we're more likely to survive this weather in the warmth of a group?

In any case, I'm happy to say I will be hosting a series of Anatomical Figure Drawing Workshops at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts here in lovely Chicago throughout this winter! There will be six workshops total, each focusing on a different area of the body. Each workshop is $40, which covers three hours of intensive figure drawing from a live model and a simultaneous lecture on the associated anatomy, including identification of bony and muscular surface landmarks, comparison of these to anatomical images, and discussion of each structure's variations.

Check out my flyer! My friend Michael Franck did this. Click on the image for easy-peasy sign up!

The first workshop will focus on the head and neck anatomy, and it is scheduled for January 26 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. (Side note: Coffee is available a few doors down!) We will have a head model with no hair so we can see every bony and muscular landmark of the head, not to mention a gland or two and a few superficial veins. Now that, to me, is just as nice as a mug of hot chocolate and a warm fire!

Later workshops will include Anterior Torso (the chest and abdomen), Posterior Torso (the back), Shoulders and Arms,  Hips and Legs, and Hands and Feet. They will fall approximately one month apart and their dates will be announced as they are scheduled.

The Palette and Chisel is located at 1012 N. Dearborn in Chicago's lovely Gold Coast neighborhood. It is easily accessible from either the red or brown el trains and from the CTA bus. Parking within a few blocks is also fairly easy on Sunday mornings. And, as mentioned above, there is a little store a few doors down where you can get a fresh cup of coffee before class!

Class size is limited to 12, so sign up early! Go the Palette & Chisel's "Class Schedule" tab to sign up, or just use this link. A supply list will be emailed to you upon sign up (it's not much-- just note-taking and gesture drawing materials and other rendering materials of your choice for longer poses.) I hope very much to see some of you there. I would love to meet some local fans of Human Anatomy for the Artist!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Banjo Player's Forearm: Let's Get Lost!

I was in a class at the Old Town School of Folk Music recently, and I saw this:


Well, I'm lying. What I actually saw was this:

Steve's forearm muscles are quite clear in the first photo, and in the photo above they've been diagrammed 
and labeled. The extensor group is shown in blue, and a small portion of the flexor group is shown in green. 
The ulna, which indicates a dividing line between the two groups, can also be seen. Muscles are as follows: ECRL (extensor carpi radialis longus); ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis); ED (extensor digitorum); EDM (extensor digiti minimi); ECU (extensor carpi ulnaris); Anc (anconeus); FCU (flexor carpi ulnalis-in the flexor group and, as such, shown in green); APL (abductor pollucis longus) and EPB (extensor pollucis brevis.) The tendon of extensor pollucis longus can be seen just to the right of the EPB muscle, but it was too small to label!)
This arm, readers, is that of one of my beloved music teachers, Steve Rosen, as he plays his banjo during the Old Time Ensemble at the Old Town School of Folk Music here in Chicago. As he played on this balmy summer evening, his forearm extensors danced. How could I help but dig out my phone to catch a quick photo?

Don't you love that feeling of complete absorption in an activity? Being so consumed, so lost in your work, that hours pass unnoticed? I often feel this way about this blog. And about playing music. If you don't know this feeling, I highly recommend you find a way to experience it. Love of your subject, intense concentration, and a sense of productivity is a combination difficult to match.

I think the reason anatomy blogging, art, and music all fall into category for me is that all three of them combine a puzzle-like quality with a wide degree of latitude for creative expression. Learning an instrument is an especially difficult puzzle, but it can still be solved in a number of ways. There is no single correct solution. There's room to experiment, embellish, and make any tune your own. It's no wonder it's so easy to become entranced in the process.

I'd have never learned any instruments in the first place if it wasn't for the talented and diverse faculty at the Old Town School. Of all the wonderful instructors in this fine institution, I've taken the most courses from Steve (above) and Paul Tyler, including fiddle, guitar, banjo, and a group course called the Old Time Ensemble.



This is a shot from last summer's class, at the end of which Paul and Steve celebrated with a little cherry cheesecake! The Wednesday evening section of this class has been team taught by these two for years, Entertaining and informative, it's a popular class that is taken repeatedly (sometimes for years) by many of Paul and Steve's devoted students and fans. Each of these gentlemen has an extensive background in Old Time string music, including time together in the Volo Bogtrotters, a... well... modern day Old Time string band. Watch them play a wonderful tune, Lost Indian, here.

Finally, there is more to Steve than his forearm or his banjo. He has many other physical features and interests. So let's diagram these as well:



Here is another diagram that more clearly shows the division of the two forearm compartments:


And a view of these muscles exposed:



You can read more about these muscles in the following posts:









I promised I'll get off forearms next time! Again, to learn more about Steve, go here. Better yet, treat yourself to a little of his banjo playing here.

Until next time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

More Advanced Anatomy Work: Roberto Almanza

I was sorting through student work from last Spring and I happened upon several anatomical pencil drawings by a former student, Roberto Almanza. They needed to be shared, so tonight's quick post is just for this purpose. 

The first piece shows the posterior torso. Notice the protruding spinous process of the C7 vertebra jutting out in the center of the trapezius muscle's tendinous floor. Also notice how Roberto renders the trapezius muscle's undulations as it wraps over the infraspinatous muscles on either side. I also like that he rendered the deltoid muscle's separate sections, and (this is my favorite part) he has included the posterior portion of the serratus anterior muscle as it shows through the latissimus dorsi muscles. Most artists forget this. We can also see teres minor, teres major, the lumbar sheath (and the bulge of the sacrospinalis muscle deep to it) and a small portion of the external oblique muscles. To read more about the posterior torso muscles, go to The Posterior Torso Muscles: Let's Go Back in Time and The Posterior Back Muscles, Part 2: Under the Radar. 



Next we have the anterior torso muscles. I like the way Roberto has shown the cut away and peeled back rectus sheath, allowing the rectus abdominis muscle, just deep to it, show clearly. Also seen here are the sternocleidomastoid muscles, the pectoralis major muscles, the serratus anterior muscles, the external obliques, and the right iliac crest. Read more about this part of the body at The Anterior Torso: Peel Away the Layers.



I only required the students to label one of these drawings, and Roberto chose to label this one of the head and anterior neck. This one is mostly bone oriented, but we also see several anterior neck muscles, including sternocleidomastoid, sternohyoid and omohyoid. We also can see the thyroid and cricoid cartilages at the proximal end of the trachea, peeking out just between the sternohyoid muscles. Read more about the anterior neck in Anterior Neck: Theme and Variations and more about the head at The Head: Part 1 of Oh My Gosh, Who Knows?



Next we have the muscles of the dorsal forearm. 



And here's a close-up, in which we can more clearly see the muscles brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor digitorum, extensor carpi ulnaris, abductor pollucis longus and extensor pollucis longus. Read more about the forearms in The Dorsal Forearm, Part 1: Compartment Search, The Dorsal Forearm, Part 2: Which Side are You On, Anyway?, and The Dorsal Forearm, Part 3: The Final Chapter. 



And finally we have Roberto's leg rendering. This shows a lateral view of the left leg, including (among others) the peroneous longus and brevis muscles on the lateral lower leg, the gastrocnemius muscle on the posterior lower leg, the vastus lateralus, gluteus medius and maximus muscles, and the iliotibial band on the lateral thigh. To read more about the lateral leg, go to The Lateral Knee, A Change of Scenery, The


Many thanks to Roberto Almanza for these images. Please do yourself a favor and check out Roberto's illustration work here.

 I think I will get caught up on the elbow joint next. Until next time!



Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Anterior Torso: Peel Away The Layers

Hello everyone! I hope you've been enjoying the lazy days of summer. I certainly have— particularly the lazy part. I've been promising for months to continue posting student work from my Advanced Anatomy class, but other pursuits, such as drawing, painting, playing music, swimming, and sitting on the deck staring into space have gotten in the way. Well, today I rectify myself.

You saw Izzy Carranza's clay spine model in The Vertebral Column: Have Some Backbone, and the lovely watercolor work of Jeff Sant in A Beautiful Exaggeration: More Student Forearm Paintings. This time it's Justine Herrera's turn. Justine took my advanced class in the spring of 2012, so this is long overdue. Justine is a lovely, talented and hard working individual whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for several years. You can view more of her work here. For her final Advanced Anatomy assignment, Justine chose to create digital illustrations of the muscles of the anterior neck and torso.

I'm particularly glad to have Justine's permission to use her anterior torso piece here; after almost two and a half years of working on this blog, I have yet to cover that area. So... let's go!

Justine's illustration (below) shows the anterior torso muscles intact. This is not always the case. Often abdominal muscle illustrations show half of the muscles dissected out so more internal layers are exposed. Several layers of muscles and aponeuroses make up the anterior wall of the torso, and often it's in the interest of the viewer to see all of them, as well as their relationships to one another. For our purposes as artists, however, the superficial layers are what most affect the figure's surface appearance. As such, we will stick to those.

A side note, though (and pardon me as my inevitable, undeniable love for terminology once again creeps into my blog)— all the abdominal muscles in the area, including those hidden, have been assigned wonderfully descriptive names: The most superficial muscle on the abdomen (which can be seen here under the milky white, semitransparent rectus sheath) is called the rectus abdominis muscle. The word abdominis refers to the abdomen, and the word rectus means "erect" or "running up and down," which indicates the direction in which the fibers of this muscle run. Deep to this muscle runs another with a similar name. We can't see the tranversus abdominis muscle on the surface of the body, but its name also describes its fiber direction as well as its location on the abdomen; the word transversus means "side to side," the direction in which the fibers of this muscle run.

Let's take a look at Justine's digital illustration of the human anterior torso musculature. Please click on the image to see it at full size. You might even want to open this image in a separate window so you can keep it in front of you while reading the descriptions below.



Let's start by looking at the rectus abdominis muscle a little more closely. You'll notice in Justine's illustration that this muscle is broken up into eight little sections that are divided by thick tendinous lines. These divisions are what give the rectus abdominis muscle its "six-pack" appearance on the body's surface. Of course this six-pack is only visible if there is little adipose (fat) tissue obscuring it. In addition, it's actually an eight-pack! But typically only the six sections superior to the umbilicus (belly button) are seen on the surface, thus giving it more of a six-pack appearance.

There are two different (although very similar looking) types of structures dividing the rectus abdominis muscle into its sections. First we have the linea alba, the long vertical tendon running down the midline of the anterior torse, dividing the rectus abdominis muscle into two bilateral portions. The term linea alba is Latin for "white line." While the linea abla runs the entire length of the rectus abdominis muscle, the portion inferior to the umbilicus is almost never visible on the body's surface; if the linea alba does make a surface appearance, we usually see only the portion superior to the umbilicus. This is because there is typically more adipose tissue over the lower portion of the abdomen.

The interrupting tendons further break the rectus abdominis muscles into sections. These tendons are similar to the linea alba except they run transversely through the muscle, and there are three bilateral sets of them. The interrupting tendons also may show on the surface of the body. Their relative locations are fairly consistent, and as such these lines can be drawn with accuracy using the following guidelines: 1) There are three sets; 2) The most inferior (lowest) set is at or very close to the level of the umbilicus; 3) the most superior (highest) set is at or just below the thoracic arch; 4) the middle set is centered between the upper and lower set, so the three sets are fairly equidistant from one another, and 5) the highest set tends to be the most arched, and the lowest set tends to be the least arched.

On either side of the rectus abdominis muscle we find the external oblique muscles. This muscle is also named for the direction of its fibers, which run at a 45 degree, or oblique, angle. This muscle is called the external oblique because of its relationship to another muscle with oblique fibers, the internal oblique. As the names tell us, the internal oblique muscle also has oblique fibers (although opposite to those of external oblique) and it is deep to the external oblique, meaning its location is more internal on the human body. While the internal oblique is not visible on the body's surface, its external oblique counterpart is. The external oblique muscles cover the sides of abdomen, and while its upper portion isn't all that remarkable in shape, its lower portion is more concretely identifiable. The lower portion of the external oblique muscle attached to the iliac crest (the bony ridge on the lateral hip). Just above this attachment, the external oblique tends to bulge out over the bone, casting a little shadow over the hip. This bulging portion of the external oblique muscle is commonly known as the flank pad. We'll cover this more thoroughly in a pelvis and hip post to come later.

The upper end of the external oblique muscle is fairly flat and nondescript, but we can, in this area, see it intertwining with the serratus anterior muscle. This muscle is named for its serrated (jagged) shape. There is also, as you can surmise from the name, a serratus posterior muscle, which is located on the posterior torso but is not typically visible on the body's surface. The serratus anterior muscle is quite visible on the surface, particular when it's being used to draw the two scapulae anteriorly. This is often the muscle body builders are showing off when they assume their stooped over aarrggh pose. (Think of Saturday Night Live's Hans and Franz.) If you follow the serratus anterior muscle posteriorly, you can see it disappearing under a posterior and lateral torso muscle, latissimus dorsi.


The last muscle we'll look at today is the pectoralis major, which is found on the anterior side of the thoracic cage. The word pectoralis come from pectus, which is Latin for "breast," and the word major tells us that their is also a pectoralis minor muscle, which is smaller than pectoralis major and deep to it, rendering it invisible on the body's surface.

One common mistake artists tend to make when drawing anterior chest muscles is lining up the lower border of the pectoralis major muscle with the thoracic arch. These two structures do not line up! The lower border of the pectoralis major muscle runs approximately 1.5" to 2" superior to the thoracic arch. There is sort of a flat "no man's land" in between the two, where the rectus sheath runs over the lower portion of the thoracic cage. This appears fairly flat and bony on the body's surface, as opposed the more full appearance of the pectoral muscles above.


Let's take a look at how some of these structures look on the surface of a mildly defined body. I've found that many surface anatomy references use extremely defined individuals as examples, and while this is not a bad thing, I think it is also useful to see how these structure look on more of an "average" individual— one not particularly defined or muscular, but with some obvious structures showing.

In the photo below, we can see the basic shapes of the abdominal muscles, plus the umbilicus and a bonus view of a few axillary (armpit) muscles.



One final point to cover: You may be wondering why are there so many layers of muscle and aponeuroses on the anterior wall of the abdomen, and why these muscles have fibers that run in all different directions (rectus, transversus, oblique.) These muscles layers (plus the aponeuroses among them) form a strong, protective wall on a portion of the trunk that needs it most. While the thoracic organs (primarily the heart and lungs) are protected by the thoracic cage, and posterior torso is protected by both the thoracic cage and the vertebral column, the abdomen has no bony protection at all! Odd, considering there are so many important abdominal organs there, including the stomach, the liver and gallbladder, the intestines and the spleen.) The thick, layered wall of abdominal muscles compensates for this lack of bony protection.

Next time we'll look at Justine's other final and equally beautiful illustration for Advanced Anatomy class, that of the anterior neck muscles. Thanks to Justine for letting me use her lovely work. Again, to see more of Justine's beautiful and diverse art, go here!

Until next time!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Beautiful Exaggeration: More Student Forearm Paintings

I promised I'd post more student work this month, so here we go. Last time we saw Izzy Carranza's lovely spine sculpture, so this time I thought we'd check out some beautiful watercolor paintings by my student Jeff Sant, also in the Spring 2013 Advanced Anatomy class.

You know I love arm anatomy, right? The disproportionate amount of arm posts on this blog sort of gives it away. So it was a lot of fun working with Jeff on this project, in which he drew a somewhat exaggerated arm outline and, in two separate paintings, placed bony and muscular anatomical structures in it. Let's first look at the muscle painting. Please do yourself a favor click on this lovely painting for a full size view.

Watercolor painting of hand, dorsal forearm, lateral arm, and
posterior shoulder musculature by Jeff Sant.

One of the cool things about this painting is its demonstration that even exaggerated anatomy can and should still take its cues from proportional anatomy. Yes, the hand might be larger than usual, yes some of the muscle shapes are unusually pronounced. But that's cool. We still want it to be based on what we've learned from more realistic anatomy examples. Exaggeration doesn't work unless it's based on reality. It's all about comparison.

Another thing I like about this image is the lovely colors and textures of different body tissues. The bones appear solid, calcified and a bit rough, the tendons appear fibrous and flexible, and the muscles appears meaty and striated. Too often paintings of anatomy look like paintings of plastic anatomy models. These tissues look alive.

So are you wondering what you're looking at in this painting? I thought you might be, so let's label it. Again, please click to enlarge.

Muscles are labeled in black. Bony landmarks are labeled in blue.

I haven't labeled everything in this image, but I tried to address anything you would or could see on the surface of the body. As usual surface appearance of structures depend on many variables, including body position, the amount of adipose tissue, and lighting in the room. But everything labeled here could be seen under the right circumstances. Muscles are labeled in black and bony landmarks are labeled in blue. Notice how many of the forearm extensors (including the extensor carpi ulnaris muscle, the extensor digiti minimi muscle, the extensor digitorum muscle, the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle, and the anconeus muscle) all original on the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

You can read more about these muscles in the following posts:

The Dorsal Forearm, Part 1: Compartment Search

The Dorsal Forearm, Part 2: Which Side Are You On, Anyway?

The Dorsal Forearm, Part 3: The Final Chapter

The Dorsal Forearm: One Last Encore

The Deltoid Area: Soft Shoulder and Varied Terrain

The Posterior Torso Muscles: Let's Go Back In Time

The Posterio Torso Muscles, Part 2: Under the Radar

Quick Forearm Study: My Pal Rich


Yeah, I told you I liked the forearm.

Soooo, let's go on to the bones of the arm. Yes, Jeff also did a lovely painting of just the bone anatomy. Here it is.

Watercolor painting of the skeletal structure of the hand, dorsal forearm, lateral arm,
and posterior shoulder by Jeff Sant.


Another very cool thing about these two paintings is that they line up accurately with one another. The same outline was used for each, and the bones of this one are arranged so they align perfectly with the muscles and bony landmarks of the other. In addition, while this painting allows us to see the complete structure of the bones, it also allows us to see why certain features of bones are more visible on the surface. For example, we can see the lateral epicondyle of the humerus because, although many forearm extensors originate there, none of them obscure it. And that epicondyle is just under the surface of the skin. The rest of the humerus, however (other than the medial epicondyle, which can't be seen from this view) is completely obscured by muscle tissue.

Now let's look at a labeled version of this painting to see which bone features are surface landmarks:

All bones are labeled. Those features that appear as surface landmarks are labeled in green.

I've labeled all the bones, but the features that are not obscured my muscle and as such appear as surface landmarks are labeled in green.

You can read more about the elbow joint in The Elbow Joint, Part 1: Anterior View, Supine Position.

One last thing I'd like to say is that my favorite part of teaching this class (other than all the lovely work that comes in at the end) is the process of working with students to figure out the great anatomy puzzles that we're presented with when they choose their final assignments. All of these pieces are so complex that they take many rounds of roughs and revisions before finalization. When getting together the work for this post, I found a nice little image that demonstrates part of this process-- a sketch from the beginning phases of Jeff's muscle painting. Often sketches are sent to me via email throughout the school week so I mark them up in Photoshop to try to help clarify things. This process, both in class and out of class, is one of my favorite parts of teaching. Here's the sketch with some color coded adjustments:




Well, I think that's enough for this time. Many thanks to Jeff for letting me use his work. Please check out more of Jeff's work here.

Next time I'll be featuring more student work—that of the awesome Justine Herrera. You can see a shot of one of her pieces here. My bad phone shot absolutely doesn't do her work justice, but I will soon get higher quality images of it to share with you. See you then.