14 December 2008

final assignment, final day for LD I (fall 2008)

the dates and times of our final meeting(s) are listed to the left on the sidebar.

what you need to do before your final meeting time:

  • create a final blog post which will serve as your class portfolio. the idea is to present to me (and to any other interested art professional) what you learned in Life Drawing I--how successfully you were able to put Life Drawing I concepts into your drawings.

  • this post should include: 1) 5-6 of your best drawings since your october class summary (self-portrait, at least one skull, and 1-2 other long poses and 2-3 gesture drawings); 2) one or two paragraphs summarizing your experience in Life Drawing I including what two-three most substantial things you learned or at which you improved, citing examples; 3) a description of your experience building muscles on the maniken (photos optional).
  • you will have 5 minutes to present this post during your final exam time.

  • finish building muscles on your maniken--the last set of muscles were the arm/forearm/hand.
  • bring your finished maniken to the final meeting time. i will grade this from the real maniken, but if you'd like to add photos to your blog, you may.

  • draw a self-portrait (18" x 24") using what you learned about the structure of the skull and facial features. draw yourself from a front 3/4 view, using a mirror. construct the drawing with line and line value only, not with shading. your focus should be on planar analysis, anatomical landmarks, cross-contours, and line quality--as well as acute observation of your own particular skull and face.

  • bring your self-portrait to the final meeting time. we will hang these up in order to look at everyone's final drawing of the semester (even though these will be in your blog summary, too).

15 November 2008

test image

this is a test for katie l:

07 November 2008

life drawing one update

hello everyone,

i want to update you on life drawing one after being gone all week. the stomach flu hit my house with a vengeance! first me, then my son. nasty stuff. we’re both back at school today—thank goodness.

as far as class goes, these are the things I’d like you to be caught up on by tuesday of next week (nov. 11):

your maniken, including the latest muscles of the leg (these are listed above):

flexor digitorum longus tibialis posterior flexor hallucis longus popliteus soleus gastrocnemius

extensor digitorum longus (long extensor of the toes)
extensor hallucis longus (long extensor of the big toe)
peroneus tertius (consider this part of the extensor digitorum longus, as its fifth tendon.)

peroneal brevis (left)
peroneal longus (right)

2. a summary of the class up to this point. do this in a format that makes sense to you (one long blog post, three or four shorter ones, a video you link to your blog, etc.) you have creative license as long as you address the following topics and do it well. obviously, this is way beyond a “midterm” portfolio. however, I think it will still be useful for you to look back at the semester as you answer the following questions and complete/revise/add-on to a blog post that examines what you’ve learned up to this point in the semester and what you’d still like to accomplish in the six weeks we have left (-1/2 week for thanksgiving, and including 1 week for the final exam day).

gesture drawings
first, select three gesture drawings characteristic of your work from early on in the semester.

second, go through your drawings and select three of your best gesture drawings (one 30-second pose, one 60-second pose, one 1+ minute-pose [anything from 60 seconds – 5 minutes]).

photograph these six gesture drawings and post on your blog, in order from earliest to latest. it will make the writing easier if you title these drawings, even simply (such as gesture #1, gesture #2, etc.).

in your blog post, reflect on what you’ve accomplished in your gesture drawings. point to specific areas/passages in the drawings as your write (I’m attaching two ways you might want to do this— images i created using jing [available as a free download]. one includes the comments on the drawing itself. the other uses numbers that would correspond with comments written in the blog post.) address how well you’ve done the following, as well as point to specifics on what has changed in your drawings from the beginning of the semester up to now. (you do not have to address each of these in every drawing, but you should touch on each one at least once throughout the entire discussion of your gesture drawings):

  1. included the whole figure on the page
  2. placed the figure in a picture plane that’s proportionate to the overall piece of drawing paper (rather than drawing random sketches anywhere on the page, in any proportion)
  3. used anatomical landmarks (rib cage, pelvis, spinal column, structural aspects of femur and tibia, etc.)
  4. focused on long axis lines rather than outlines
  5. incorporated line variation (value [light, medium, dark], character [sharp, soft, long short, fast, slow, etc])
  6. captured the feeling of the pose (can you tell immediately what pose the model is in by looking at the drawing? can the viewer relate with their own kinesthetic sense to the pose?)
  7. exaggerated angles and pose (are there diagonals in the pose? strong lines of emphasis and movement?)
  8. related a sense of a living figure on the page (this is really a composite of all the elements above. here, you can discuss the drawing as a whole).

long drawings
photograph and post your three best drawings at this point in the semester.f or each drawing, describe what makes it strong. what did you see in that drawing that you did not see before? what did you get on the paper makes the drawing successful in terms of our class? i would rather you talk in specifics here rather than generalities. you may not have a whole “good” or “strong” drawing in terms of everything being right—proportion, gesture, anatomy, composition, etc. you may have one drawing that is best in anatomical description, one that’s best in line variation, etc. with these three drawings and your descriptions of them, i want you to show me what you have learned. what have you accomplished? how well do you know and use the language of drawing (the literal written language and the more metaphorical visual language)? prove to me (or another professor, gallery owner, grad school committee, design firm, etc.) what you have learned and how this learning/problem-solving you’ve done makes you a better artist, designer, employee, seer, etc.

post four images of your maniken. these should have plenty of detail, in focus (!), have a clean, non-distracting background (use photoshop if nothing else), and show me (and/or any other interested viewer) your clay building skills and understanding of the muscles we’ve built so far.

with each photo, describe what is strongest about your maniken from that point of view and what you would revise to make more accurate, more clear, or more consistent in terms of anatomy, muscle grouping, clay craft, etc.

use anatomical language as you describe the manikens.

  1. 3/4 anterior view of upper body
  2. 3/4 posterior view of upper body
  3. 3/4 anterior view of lower torso and legs
  4. 3/4 posterior view of lower torso and legs

reflect on your use of blogging to help you record and reflect on your experiences in life drawing one by addressing the following questions (feel free to use screen shots as illustrations, or provide links to earlier posts and/or comments):

  • what is the most interesting/attention-holding blog post you came across by another student this semester? what made it so?
  • what do you enjoy about blogging?
  • what do find frustrating about using the blog?
  • what would you like to post about that you haven’t?
  • how many comments have you left for your blog group members?
  • when blog group members have commented on your posts, have you replied back?
  • if you could give one blog assignment to the class, what would it be?
  • how would you rate your blog at this point in the semester in terms of

  1. image quality?
  2. response to other students (quality and quantity)?
  3. blogging about miscellaneous or art-related content other than just assigned blog posts?
  4. helpfulness to other members of your blog group and/or other students in the class?
  5. representing yourself as a professional artist to a public audience? looking at your blog, how would others describe you and your work?

a tentative schedule for the rest of the semester:

nov 11 – 13: leg, foot
nov 18 – 20: shoulder girdle
nov 25: arm/forearm
dec 2 – 4: hand, skull
dec 9 – 11: facial features, self-portrait (final portfolio [similar to what you’re doing above] due)
dec 17 & 18: LD I finals (homework self-portrait due, added to final portfolio)

i do not like being out of class for so many days. we will have to transition quickly back into life drawing mode next week. making sure your maniken is up-to-date and your class summary is done and done well—both by tuesday, nov. 11—will get you back in the mode, I’m sure.

have a good weekend. work hard. stay away from the germs!

30 October 2008

assignment for tuesday, november 4

build the following leg muscles

(look them up in the index of volume 4, pelvic skeleton)

posterior leg:

deep muscles of the posterior leg:
flexor digitorum longus
tibialis posterior
flexor hallucis longus

superficial muscles of the posterior leg:


anterior leg = extensors (dorsiflexors)

tibialis anterior - this muscle begins high on the lateral tibia. its tendon crosses over to the medial ankle and foot. (this cross-over tendon creates, as robert beverly hale writes, a form the size of the nose--by paying attention to it while building and drawing, you can create a nice transition from leg to foot).

extensor digitorum longus (long extensor of the toes)
extensor hallucis longus (long extensor of the big toe)
peroneus tertius (consider this part of the extensor digitorum longus, as its fifth tendon.)

lateral leg

peroneal brevis (left)
peroneal longus (right)

16 October 2008

assignment for thursday, october 23

  • build the following muscles on your maniken
  • describe your process building them
  • include your group's summary
    class on thursday, october 16

vastus intermedius
(vol. 4, pp. 94 - 95)

vastus medialis
(vol. 4, pp. 96 - 97)

vastus lateralis
(vol. 4, pp. 98 - 99)

rectus femoris
(vol. 4, pp. 100 - 101)

(vol. 4, pp. 102 - 103)

adductor longus
(vol. 4, pp. 104 - 105)

adductor brevis
(vol. 4, pp. 106 - 107)

adductor magnus

(vol. 4, pp. 108 - 109)

(vol. 4, pp. 110 - 111)

semimembranosus (vol. 4, pp. 112 - 113)
semitendinosus (vol. 4, pp. 114 - 115)
biceps femoris (vol. 4, pp. 116 - 117)

(vol. 4, pp. 122 - 123)

"my favorite muscle"--see, i'm not the only one who says this--click on the link for some good information on the sartorius and a very clear image of one on a bodybuilder, from http://anatomynotes.blogspot.com

assignment for thursday, october 16

tuesday (october 14) in class, we spent some time in blog groups where you looked at each others' manikens and checked where each of them were in terms of accuracy of anatomy and quality of the clay building. the muscles that should have been finished at that point were

  • spinal erectors with lumbodorsal fascia
  • quadratus lumborum
  • external obliques
  • rectus abs
  • tensor fasciae latae with IT band
  • gluteus minimus
  • gluteus medius
  • gluteus maximus, iliac and axial heads

for your blog:
  1. post at least three images of your maniken with the glutes finished (front, side, back [or 3/4 views])
  2. describe your process of building these muscles
  3. include your group's summary from class on tuesday, october 14, that describes how your group worked together to make your manikens more accurate and more carefully built (in terms of aesthetic quality of the clay--marks or no marks, visible plane changes, clarity of forms, etc.)
  4. feel free to add additional comments to the group summary if you'd like (optional)

assignment for tuesday, october 14

finish building glutes

gluteus minimus (vol. 4, pp. 42-43)

gluteus medius
(vol. 4, pp. 44-45)

tensor fasciae latae
(vol. 4, pp. 118-119)

gluteus maximus,
iliac head (vol. 4, pp. 120-121)
you do not have to build the IT band again; you've already built it with the tensor

gluteus maximus,
axial head (vol. 5, pp. 64-65)

assignment (ongoing)

beginning today (october 16)

  • you need to respond to each of your blog group members at least two times per week:
    some examples of how to do this: respond to drawings or maniken images they have posted, go back through their blogs and respond to earlier posts, ask them meaningful questions, start a discussion about what you are experiencing with class that they could help you with, take something they are doing and connect it to what you are doing (what are they doing that you can learn from? tell them about that.) give them ideas--other artists they might be interested in, for example.

  • you need to create at least one blog post per week that is not assigned in class:
    post something that is related to your professional life as an artist--for ideas, think about good books about art and artists, what else in your life relates to art, projects for other classes that you're working on, exhibits you've seen or would like to see, etc. use these posts to record what is important to you and also as a way to show or teach others something they might not know.

better blogging

some notes of the in-class discussions on blog writing/responding, image quality, text appearance, etc. (from class on thursday, october 9):

the overall ideas of the discussions were to treat your blog as an artwork itself, or as a presentation. this means it should look clean and thoughtfully designed. images should be clear, free of distractions. writing should be specific and useful for others, not vague and nondescript.

use the blog to present yourself in your best artistic and professional light.

your blog is also a place to interact with your blog group members: to give thoughtful feedback, record summaries of your group interaction in class, and to help each other solve problems.

  1. use specific language (most good writing takes time. this is especially true when it comes to writing about visual objects. slow down to find the necessary specificity you need to describe something.)
  2. tell us (your audience) something we don't know already; make a new observation.
  3. add to what has already been said by the artist or other people who comment; don't just re-iterate what has already been said.
  4. resist the urge to sum up your writing with a happy ending sentence--it will be better if you just leave off with your last observational statement of fact.
  5. use noticing to write about others' work. it makes you look more carefully and will give the artist useful feedback on how his/her piece comes across to viewers.
  6. write thoughtfully rather than quickly. as you write, ask yourself what kind of feedback would you like to receive about your work (once you received that all-important "your work is awesome!" after you've heard that, then what else do you still want to know?)

  1. pay attention to how you are photographing and/or editing your photographs so that they come across clearly.
  2. photograph your manikens against a plain, black or white background (matte board, for example) or edit the image in photoshop and give it a plain background.

  1. think like a graphic designer. text should be easy to read, separated by enough space when appropriate. people like to read shorter rather than longer paragraphs, so if you have a long piece of text, break into paragraphs, give it some space, some breaks to make it easier to look at and read.

08 October 2008

practice, practice all the way

"You must realize that there is no royal road to drawing. It is practice, practice all the way."

--robert beverly hale,

drawing lessons
from the great masters:
100 great drawings
analyzed/figure drawing
fundamentals defined

the society of figurative arts

this is a beautiful and helpful website with tons of examples of structural drawing, line work, and anatomy

here are examples of the torso, rib cage, and pelvis (note the muscles included in the drawings like we've been working on in class):

02 October 2008

assignment for tuesday, october 7 (part two)

this assignment is for the 301-002 (11:15 - 2:20) class

post images of
1) one 10-minute pose from thursday, oct. 2 and
2) the 50-minute pose from thursday, oct. 2.

with the 10-minute pose, include the three points you noticed that were different between your drawing and my 10-minute drawing. (i'll post this here as soon as i get to a camera--you can copy it to your blog if you'd wish)

also, for the 10-minute drawing and the 50-minute drawing, write a minimum of 200 words for each drawing addressing the following issues/questions:

can you see long axis lines and cross contour lines in the drawing? do they function to show the length and direction of each of the main forms of the figure? if you have outlines in the drawing, are the outlines somewhat open and varied in value and character? or too similar in value, weight? are there outlines in the drawing that create a flat, coloring-book feel?

can you see an egg-like form indicating the rib cage? are there cross-contour lines indicating pelvic landmarks? does the drawing have anatomical landmarks we've studied so far? (for the 10-minute pose write about skeletal landmarks, for the 50-minute pose also include muscles--spinal erectors, external obliques, and rectus abs).

is there line variation in the drawing? variation of value? character? thickness/thinness? for the 50-minute pose write about how line functions to create atmospheric perspective.

for each drawing describe the relationship between the drawing of the figure and ground. how does the figure fit within the picture plane? is there enough space around the figure to make it feel like it's not too crowded? is the whole figure (10-minute pose) or whole torso (50-minute pose) included? is the figure cropped? if so, how and why? what is the scale of the figure in relation to the picture plane? is it a tiny figure in the middle of a large page? does the drawing of the figure take full advantage of the space of the page?

30 September 2008

muscle assignment

1. spinal erectors

-cervicis, vol. 1: pp. 94-95
note the space here between the spinous processes and the transverse processes--the muscle is on the spinous processes, far back on the dorsal surface

-capitis, vol. 1: pp. 96-97
note this muscle's relation to the nuchal ligament and remember that ligament on your maniken is already there (the plastic behind the cervical vertebrae on your manikens)

-thoracis, vol. 1: pp. 98-100
same as the cervicis--look at the space between this muscle and the surface of the rib cage. keep the muscle away from the surface of the rib cage.

look at how all these sections twist together, like three pieces of a rope

-capitis, vol. 1: pp. 106-107

-cervicis, vol. 1: pp. 108-109

-thoracis, vol.1: pp. 110-111
look here at how rounded out the thoracis is from side to side, also how there is space behind it, how it doesn't glue itself to the rib cage. also make sure to build the lumbodorsal fascia.

this muscle is similar to longissimus in how its pieces twist

-cervicis, vol. 1: pp. 116-117
this segment appears to come out quite far. this appears this way because it is wrapping next to the longissimus, not really sticking out in space.

-thoracis, vol. 1: pp. 118-119

-lumborum, vol. 5: pp. 62-63
remember this is in book number five. it will also connect to the lumbodorsal fascia.

2. abdominals

quadratus lumborum,
vol. 5: pp. 60-61
make sure you build both triangles of this muscle

external obliques,
vol. 5: pp. 78-79

rectus abdominis,
vol. 5: pp. 72-73
indicate navel and tendinous inscriptions

assignment for tuesday, october 7

1. post to your blog images of the following points of view of your maniken. do this after you have finished building the spinal erectors, quadratus lumborum, external obliques, and rectus abs.
  • straight on front
  • straight on back
  • 3/4 front
  • 3/4 back
2. describe your process of building the muscles, which muscle are in which photo--use their anatomical names. describe the attachments and actions of each muscle.

3. write about what you learned while building the muscles in clay.

4. how did you use your frustration with a new process to learn something?

5. what was frustrating and how did you move beyond that frustration?

6. what problems did you solve?

7. what will you do different next clay assignment?

8. what tips can you share with your blog group members to help them with their clay building?

9. how will you use your new understanding when you draw the figure again?

10. what anatomical resource[s], besides the atlases, did you find helpful?

remember when writing about frustrations or problems to frame them in a professional format. no one (your future boss included) wants to hear whining. we want to know how you worked through the problem.

29 September 2008

muscle memory

here is another excerpt from the athlete's way by christopher bergland.

this information deals with purkinje cells, microtubules, muscle memory, and the benefits stretching has on the nervous system (bergland cites these benefits as primary to stretching's benefits for the muscles and tendons)

since we are beginning the work on building muscles and tendons in life drawing one and continuing work on sensing our muscles in yoga, i thought this would be another excellent text to help you understand the relationship between figure drawing and yoga.

also, and just as importantly, this text touches how we learn through repetition, through practice, through creating muscle memories. this applies to the physical process of drawing the figure just as it does to yoga and sporting events. for example, every time you begin a drawing by establishing the long axis of the torso, you are creating a muscle memory. the second time you do this, you strengthen the pathways in your brain that help you do that.

part of my job in life drawing is to assist you in creating new habits for yourself--for understanding the body, for making drawings that have a sense of life, for refining your skill with line.

creating new muscle memories also applies to 1) holding your drawing tool with a drawing grasp rather than a handwriting grasp, 2) standing with enough space between you and your easel, and 3) keeping your eye and hand moving together as you study the form of the figure.

it is also why i have you build the muscles on the maniken. if you can create a muscle memory with your hands and fingers moving from one attachment to the next, you will have access to that memory as you look at the model and remember what that muscle is like as you draw.

this works best when you pay attention to the maniken and clay as you build rather than treating it as busy work while really paying attention to something else while you build. it also means that building a muscle more than once increases your understanding and memory of that muscle--so, if i ask you to re-build a muscle, view it as an opportunity to learn the muscle better.

the excerpt:

more from the athlete’s way: sweat and the biology of bliss
by christopher bergland
st. martin’s press
new york, ny

*for more information on pukinje cells and microtubules, see below

stretch your neurons from head to toe
de-stress the web of body snatchers

the human body is not a thing of given substance, but a continuous creation. the human body is an energy system . . . which is never a complete structure; never static; is in perpetual inner self-construction and self-destruction; we destroy in order to make new. [norman o. brown, american philosopher]

this chapter is going to focus on flexibility and balance. the athlete’s way is about the process of linking up body, mind, brain, and human spirit. the focus of stretching in this chapter is as much about stretching the cables of your nervous system, improving your state of mind, and getting touch/with your human spirit as it is about the flexibility of muscles and tendons. stretching, and breathing deeply, is a great way to relax and decompress. it gets the kinks out of your nervous system. think of stretching as a way to take a time-out from the hectic world and get yourself centered.

the focus of balance is on the cerebellum and plumping up your purkinje cells.* balance is a ue-it-or-lose-it system. this chapter will tell you how to practice using your balance system. you want to stretch a little bit every day, and get in the habit of discreetly balancing on one foot throughout the day, in line at the bank or waiting for the bus. (226-227)

stretching engages the network of neurons that is your nervous system and invigorates it--like a massage from the inside out. neurons stretch from the back of your head to the tips of your fingers down your legs to the/ends of your toes. when you bend over to touch your toes you are lengthening axons, elongating microtubules,* and opening up the synaptic gaps that are the junctions of the billions of neurons woven throughout your entire body. make waking up the nervous system and the benefits on mind, brain, and spirit your number one reason to stretch.

when you stretch your arms as wide as you can, you are elongating the axons that go from the base of your brain to your fingertips. feel the electricity going through each neuron and in the synapses. the circuitry explodes when you stretch, because you are getting the electrochemicals and blood flowing into the nooks and crannies of the nervous system, which wakes it up. breathe deeply and imagine sending oxygen and blood flow to those areas that feel tight.

neurons need the nutrients delivered by blood flow and oxygen that stretching sends there. visualize this when you stretch. imagine every breath sending more blood flow and oxygen to the tight area. feel the stretch as you hold it and breathe. imagine that you are flooding that area with fresh nutrients and washing away the old stale toxins. this is a simple visualization that has worked for me every day for twenty years.

your brain alone has enough energy to light a twenty-watt lightbulb, but there is much more energy than that in your entire nervous system. your ability to tap the collective pool of energy in the universe is infinite. imagine the kilowatts pumping through your nervous system and plug into it. light up your spinal column. (228)

transport tubes of bliss molecules

over time, with continuous daily practice, exercise strengthens--plumps up--the microtubules to transport more effectively the neurochemicals associated with bliss. the improved delivery system can result in more amplified feelings of bliss because the pipes run faster and cleaner.

these waterproof pipelines can transport a substance from the body of a cell to its synapse end-terminal up to three feet away. inside each axon are about a hundred microtubules that lie flaccid like a flat fire hose. with a neurotransmitter cargo inside, they become rigid and stiff. these pipelines will swell within 1/10,000 of a second when a neuron springs to life and begins to communicate using the chemicals pumped through millions of neurons like wildfire, each linking at the tips of these microscopic channels to create an engram, a neural net. within each axon, there are actually a hundred separate delivery systems squirting messages into the synaptic gap in milliseconds. this is how all the neurotransmitters transport chemical messages and deliver cargo to pleasure and pain centers.

when you exercise, microtubules pump serotonin into the frontal lobes--this makes you happier and smarter. researchers at johns hopkins have recently discovered that the strengthening of axons in the frontal cor-/tex because of more serotonin is probably what makes SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like prozac work. although it is too early to say, the real power in antidepressants may actually lie in the microtubules becoming a better delivery system because of serotonin, which also occurs with exercise.

breaking a sweat makes your microtubules bigger, stronger, and more efficient. my dad says, “people like you and lance armstrong who do a lot of exercise have bigger microtubules than the rest of us.” you need microtubules to be able to deliver large quantities of cargo quickly. they get stronger and bigger when you overload them. this cutting-edge concept is just beginning to be studies by other neuroscientist. (118-119)

purkinje cells
the key to muscle memory

learn by practice. --martha graham

number of purkinje cells = 15 to 25 million (relatively small number)
number of synapses made on a purkinje cell = up to 200,000 (relatively huge number)

muscle memory is stored in the purkinje cells of the cerebellum. purkinje cells are named after johannes purkinje, who first identified these neurons in 1837. dr. purkinje was also the first person to identify the individuality of the human fingerprint. he had a figt for discovering relatively obvious things everyone else had overlooked. purkinje cells are the most distinctive neurons in the brain; their dendrites fan out into chinese fans. dendrites are arranged at right angles to the parallel fibers other molecular layers, forming tens of millions of synapses. but they never touch.

you could think of one thousand purkinje cell dendrites as a “receiving dish” from many wide and varied places in your body. the single pukinje cell axon could be seen as one outgoing wire sending signals from all over the place through a consolidated pipeline. the dendrites of purkinje cells are parallel but never touch. they oscillate like fishtails and push signals up the axon, out of the cerebellum, and up into the cerebrum. the power of these “fishtails” oscillating in unison could also be seen as a car engine with thousands of cylinders (the dendrites) channeling information into a single drive shaft (the axon).

the synaptic plasticity of purkinje cells is in your hands. they are reshaped daily through practice and repetition. the purkinje cells work at a quantum speed. the amplification of more than two hundred thousand incoming signals through one axon offers parallel processing capability from the cerebellum up into the cerebrum.

this lightning-fast processing in a goalie’s cerebellum allows him to leap for a soccer ball while reaching out his hands, keeping his eyes locked on the target. his cerebellum monitors postural control, muscle tensions, velocity, and gravity before he grabs the ball and rolls as he hits the grass. the final output of any given purkinje cell is via a single axon, but all the purkinje cells are working autonomously, but simultaneously. they oscillate together and march in lockstep. these cells take sensory information from all parts of the body and send it to the cerebrum. (119-120)

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