Sunday, November 29, 2015

Penguin Random House Book Review: Classic Human Anatomy in Motion

Valerie L. Winslow, fine award winning artist, Pixar Studios animation educator, as well as over thirty years teaching figurative art and artistic anatomy, published a profound 304 page hardcover illustrated volume, Classic Human Anatomy in Motion: The Artists Guide to the Dynamics of Figure Drawing.

This volume speaks to the creative and medical aspects of human anatomy. The book is sectioned, allowing the reader to digest the authentic mechanics of the human body. In each section and nearly all pages, there are distinct illustrations of the body part, ranging from bones to ligaments to muscle to tendons to skin to facial structures. Such elements are crucial to understand when creating a piece of art intended to be realistic and anatomically correct.

Browsing through the pages, the reader is able to stop wherever they please, not following a designed study pattern, more so, a creative one. One can start at the beginning or open any page and begin. This is only one important aspect of this book when speaking of creativity.

The chapters are easy to read, not scientific or medical in nature, and a student of anatomy as well as art will find this volume most useful. Valerie's understanding of the human body and all structures and movements involved is quite astounding.

The chapters are as follows:

  • Bones and Surface Landmarks
  • Joints and Joint Movement
  • Muscle and Tendon Characteristics
  • Facial Muscles and Expressions
  • Muscles of the Neck and Torso
  • Muscles of the Arm and Hand
  • Muscles of the Leg and Foot
  • Body Types, Soft Tissue Characteristics 
  • Planes of the Body
  • Gesture and Action Drawing
  • Movement and Stationary Figures
  • Rhythmic Movement

Within each chapter, are sub-chapters that delve into each segment. For example, if one wishes to draw a perfect anatomical skull, it is here. If one wishes to draw the naked figure, any body type, it is here. If one wishes to create all facial structures, it is here and if one wishes to be able to create motion and realistic muscles beneath skin that is also in this artistically designed book from front to back covers.

As an artist and a student of medicine, this volume bewilders me. It is not only a book every artist needs to own, but a book ripe with extensive medical knowledge of the entire human body and all it encompasses. The illustrations range from a simple charcoal sketch of a woman standing to an extensive anatomical medical model of the same figure.

To test the practicality of this book, I began sketching with pencil and simply opened to a chapter on muscles. In less than 10 minutes, I already drew the upper body of a male figure outlined, half of it sketched, muscles showing, with basic curves of the body outlined in accurate depth and volume. 

I have never done that in my life. 

Below is what I started creating from reading only one page of this book:

This is an artist’s dream. I cannot imagine being without this volume. 

Click below for: 

I am thankful to have received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canalside Buffalo Grain Elevator Light Display

Video Link HERE 

Buffalo was once the world’s largest grain port. Now it’s home to one of the world’s most unique and dynamic permanent lighting installations. One that helps restore Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbor — all while celebrating the city’s industrial heritage.

The canvas for this modern-day work of art is the Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator, easily seen from Canalside, the Buffalo River, and Lake Erie. This unique structure has been transformed into a light sculpture, a light beacon for the city and surrounding areas. 

This project, part of the visual master plan developed in 2012, will contribute to the enhancement of the Buffalo nightscape as well as its Waterfront and Downtown.

* * * 

Video © Susan Marie
Text © Canalside Buffalo
Music © Vulgaret by Continental Drift 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Preserving & Framing Autumn Leaf Tutorial

I adore Autumn. This year, I created my own Autumn Leaf Tutorial that preserves the leaves as well as turns them into elegant works of art. This was easy, fun, relaxing, and cost me a total of five dollars. I already had supplies at home, total cost might be $5-20 depending on the frames you use & where you buy supplies. I went to the dollar store.

Below is a finished 11 x 14. 

  • - Small wide paint brush 
  • - Modge Podge [clear drying craft gloss lustre, $4 for 4oz, or $1 at the dollar store, 4oz. is more than enough.]
  • - Cardboard [or a disposable work-space to on.
  • - Dried Leaves
  • - Frames [I made 4. Any size. Style of frame matters. They must have a frame back similar to the photo below so the glass from another frame can fit as a clear backing instead of a colored backing.] 

You will need 2 frames to make one complete frame. Buy double the frames you plan to make. Discard the frame/backing from one, keep the backing hangers and glass depending upon how many frames you make.]
Small nails to hang frames. 

The instructions are outlined below with photos from start to finish:

Collect leaves early morning still wet, not wet is fine too. Leaves keep their brighter colors when still wet. Pick leaves from various trees for shape/color.

After collecting, press them flat when home. Paper towels and/or tissue folded in half works good. Place leaves between one fold making sure no leaves overlap, stick out or are bent on edges. Place them between pages of heavy books. Let them dry. 


Take cardboard, lie flat. Get modge podge and paint brush. Take each dried leaf separate and coat back and front of each leaf generously. You will have to dab off with brush extra coating so it does not leave marks when dry. All you want is a glossy finish that also preserves the leaf. Be careful, you can easily crack a nice leaf. Stems are fine to break or break off.

Use different techniques with the brush to make sure the leaf is fully coated front and back. 

After the leaf is coated, let it dry, about 20 minutes, away from other leaves and off the edge as below. 

When the leaves dry, they will look like below. Slightly glossy and preserved. Notice how the dry leaves you started with are different.

Important: When buying a frame, make sure the backing is like below. When you frame, take apart one frame, discard the cardboard backing, save the clip holders. 

Use superglue to glue one clip from discarded frame onto the frame you will use to hang. Let that dry. Remove glass from discarded frame, recycle the other frame or use it for another project. Take the glass from discarded frame and use that as the new backing for the frame that will have leaves in it.


When ready to add leaves to one frame, place glass face down in the frame and creatively place the leaves wherever you see fit. Make it diverse, coorful, interesting. When pleased, put the glass from discarded frame on top of the upturned leaves and clamp down the hooks to secure the leaves in place. This glass is now the backing of one frame so you are able to see through to the wall instead of seeing a cardboard or colored backing. 

Below are examples of up close finished frames, different sizes and designs. 

Below is how I chose to design one wall with 4 finished frames. 

This is another example.

This project is easy, fun, and inexpensive and looks beautiful. The glass backing works well against lighter colored walls and up close, you are able to see the veins in the leaves and the changing colors. 

Now you have not only an artistic display, but preserved Autumn leaves. Experiment. There are many ways to do this. 

Have fun and enjoy!

The artwork in the middle [Love Yourself First in Arabic and English calligraphy] was gifted to me by my sister, artist, writer in Kashmir, Amreen Naqash.