Current project and thought on Anatomy (weekly #13)

I am now working on the final painting of the year. It is a long, 4 week pose, from a live model, as always.

I showed the color study for it last week:

It is now transferred to a big canvas (linen on wood panel), 18” X 32.5”
Pretty much life-size. I’ve never worked so big before, this should be interesting (or at least, a very humbling experience to go through in the 2 weeks remaining).

This one is my favorite subject matter from the 2 years I’ve been studying at Georgetown Atelier.
A second close would be This one, with a third fourth and fifth for This, This and This.

In fact I like this one so much I already picked a frame for it, which is pretty unusual for me.
If I am satisfied with my painting when I’m done with it, I will be displaying it at my school’s end of the year party, June 30th (in Seattle).
More about this party at the end of the post.

I recently bought an excellent anatomy book by Elliot Goldfinger, which I’m using to study the underlying anatomy for this current pose.

I’ve asked myself yesterday what is the point of studying anatomy?  My initial answer is that I have natural curiosity to understand why something appears the way it is: what’s under the skin that makes the skin look a certain way. Then I thought to myself, “is it really necessary? After all, you can see that there is a bump here, skin fold there – is it really important to know what’s under it to be able to describe it?” And I answered myself “yes”. Because knowing the underlying elements (muscles and bones) help the artist see connections that he wouldn’t otherwise notice, as well as allowing him to notice subtle yet important changes in the skin’s curvature because knowing that a muscle is there helps the artist know to look for it via value difference or something like that.

For example, look at a shoulder:

For someone who doesn’t know anatomy, it would be mighty intuitive to describe it like this:

Then, if they had to replicate that line from memory it might look something like this:

Yes. The notorious Mr. Noodleman.

However, the shoulder area is composed of several main structures which give it a more specific form:

The spine of the scapula, to which the deltoid muscle is attached, and the trapezius muscle, which forms that diagonal shoulder line coming out of the neck. If one looks closely, there is an angle break where I drew the arrow, between the trapezius and the deltoid (link to illustrate).

This is so subtle and can easily be missed without knowing that it’s there. And once you know it’s there, you can no longer draw noodleman anymore, because you know that that curve should be broken down into more segments than 1. 🙂

The more I know anatomy, the more it will free me to be able to work from imagination and the faster I can draw and focus on more important things, like what inspires me about a subject.
I don’t mean “knowing anatomy” in the sense of memorizing every bone and muscle under the skin, but rather knowing practical anatomy – practical for artists, that is, not for doctors.


Now a bit about where I’m at with my education: I am now finishing my second year of training, after which I will have one more year to go.
I study at Georgetown Atelier in Seattle.
Next year I will be the senior student and the only one in my year, painting in full palette.
Other than me there will be two more painters in the school, which are just starting out and the rest of the students (9 of them) will be drawing.
I am a little nervous about that. Up until this point I always had more senior students to consult and learn from, but no more.
All 6 of them will be graduating in 2 weeks after 3 years of hard work.

Our graduation party showing everyone’s work, including mine, will be held at the school, on June 30th, 5-9pm.
It will have lots of art, music, refreshments, people and a really neat ” busy art studio” environment.
If you are in the area I would be happy to meet you and show you around, everyone are invited to the party and I will be very happy to see anyone who has interest in my art. Feel free to invite whoever you’d like. Here is the event on Facebook: Link. I would be delighted to see you there.





3 thoughts on “Current project and thought on Anatomy (weekly #13)

  1. Thoroughly enjoy your art and blog. You communicate the philosophy in the way you approach your art form really well.

  2. I think a good way of understanding the role of anatomy in art in terms of philosophy is like the difference between Objectivism and Pragmatism.

    Pragmatism would say that you have to study every little thing on the model with no preconceptions of what you are looking at. That you should always take everything down to the perceptual level each time you are doing a new pose and piece.

    However, Objectivism would say that you need to acquire knowledge about the concepts involved in what you are seeing, so that you don’t have to rely on going to the perceptual level each time. Instead of starting over with no prior knowledge, you get ahead of the game using pattern recognition. It’s like playing Minesweeper where you look for patterns instead of acting like you’ve never played the game each time you start a new game.

    I imagine that not only would learning anatomy make artwork faster and more accurate, but it would make it much less frustrating.

  3. You might find the site, Muscle and Motion (, to be helpful, Ifat. Although the site is oriented towards exercise, the animations that show the various bones and related muscles in motion make it easier to understand just what is going on under the surface compared to anatomy books.

    The site requires a subscription, but they do offer a free trial (a month, I think – my computer is too out of date to run the required software). They have 40-plus animations posted to their YouTube channel:

    Keep up the excellent work.

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