Yesterday I had the honor to attend an Artist Anatomy Sketching Session organized by Virginia Ferrante-Iqbal at the RUSH Human Anatomy Lab run by Director James Williams PhD. Before I switched majors to art after three years of college, I had been a bio/chem major. And while I had certainly been in labs and had dissected a few small creatures, I never advanced to the human anatomy labs. The first thing is you will notice a slight hint of formaldehyde but the lab was very well ventilated so that was never an issue. Then you don the gown and enter the main room where there are perhaps a dozen or so tables/gurneys with cadavers in blue tarps. Our subject was revealed and as you can see from my sketches had the skin removed from the body’s left side. A moment of respectful silence and gratitude to the donor, then I got down to business. The session is 3 hours. One aspect I wondered about was my palette selection as I packed my gear the night before. I used Pitt Artist Pens which have a wide range of color but my selection left out some hues I’ll look to include next week. I brought a clipboard as one of my sketchbooks, a Stillman & Birn Nova Series, was a soft cover and wouldn’t have given me much support as I stood to draw while holding my sketchbook. The other book, a Stillman & Birn Gamma Series sketchbook had a hard book cover and was well suited to draw and hold on it’s own. I have lots of anatomy books but the clarity you find in most of those books will be different than your experience looking directly upon a cadaver. Connective tissue and the direction or grain of muscle tissue may prove much more confusing than a diagrammatically rendered illustration. That, will be part of the challenge. To draw as faithfully as you see the forms and tissue, or help articulate the structure. An exciting opportunity. There are openings for this lab which meets over the next seven weeks. My thanks to Virginia Ferrante-Iqbal and Dr. Jim Williams.



I returned to the Human Anatomy Lab at Rush Hospital last night and continued drawing from the same cadaver featured last week. More dissection had taken place, as shown here, where the trapezius, still attached to the skull ( the external occipital protuberance to be more exact) having been laid across the towel covering the cadaver’s head. Other muscles around the shoulder/neck area have been partially removed to show substructure. The main muscle of the buttocks, the gluteus maximus has also been partially removed to reveal deeper tissue and the sciatic nerve. In future drawings I will clearly label the muscle groups, bones and key features.

The Human Anatomy Lab

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