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.