Introducing a Young Artist to Human Anatomy

S. completed her homework assignment - a still life - with elegance. Her powers of observation and proportion are steadily improving.

Since she will be traveling out of the country for a month, I just wanted to go over some of the basics of materials and techniques, and encouraged her to bring a sketchbook on her travels. In addition, I gave her a folder of photocopies of the skeleton, leg and arm bones and the pelvis, including hands and feet, from an excellent anatomy book, "Atlas of Anatomy for Artists" by Jeno Barcsay. I suggested she study them by sketching the basic shapes - not every single vertebra or finger bone, but just to start exploring anatomy from the inside. She found it hard to believe that, with study, an artist can "sense", almost "see", the bones inside a person. I told her that it is a basic practice that any artist interested in the figure should explore.

I sketched the basic shapes of the skeleton so she would see what I meant, then described the ball-and-socket of the pelvis, which she found surprising. The coccyx amused her as the human's vestigal tail. Another surprise were the bones of the arms and legs: how they mirror each other: the ulna and radius of the arm mirror the tibia and the fibula of the leg, while the humerus mirrors the femur. We also had a look at the bones of the hand and foot. I told her once that hands and feet are the most difficult to draw - studying bone structure will help with that.

She will be gone for a month - I hope she does some sketching on her travels. We will have a look at muscles and tendons when she returns. 


Deborah S.

Studio Arts, Literature & Writing

50+ hours
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