Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summertime drawing board with Ramón y Cajal


My drawing of Ramón y Cajal's drawing of the retina June 9, 2015, ink and pen on paper, 11" x 14."



My imaginative and surreal portrait of Ramón y Cajal Summer Solstice, June 18, 2015, ink and pen on paper, 11" x 14."


Summer Solstice details below:







Summer Sun
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1885)

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Picking up where the previous pages left off...

New images within the visual narrative of my ongoing accordion book project about the life and times of Santiago Ramón y Cajal.  The process has been immersive, so for today there will be more images than words.

Accordion book pages open, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

Accordion book pages open, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

Collective detail of accordion book pages, graphite and in on paper, size variable

Accordion book pages open, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"

Collective detail of accordion book pages, graphite and in on paper, size variable


If a photographic plate under the center of a lens focused on the heavens is exposed for hours, it comes to reveal stars so far away that even the most powerful telescopes fail to reveal them to the naked eye. In a similar way, time and concentration allow the intellect to perceive a ray of light in the darkness of the most complex problem. 

Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Neuron Nests and Branches


When Cajal was a child he would steal and raise baby birds from their nests.  He would also collect baby bird nests and pay his playmates to collect them, too.  He would make detailed drawings and notes about them, and when he was done, he would return the baby birds to their mothers.  These activities were the beginnings and the psychological foundation for his scientific research.  Additionally, birds were important symbols of strength and resilience to him throughout his life. 

New Nests and Neurons, graphite and ink on paper, 16" x 20"


detail, New Neuron Nests


Like an earthquake, true senility announces itself by trembling and stammering. 
Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"


This image portrays the "branches" of the neurons juxtaposed with an image portraying self reflection near the end of his life. Cajal describes in his last biography written at the age of eighty, his fears of neurological deterioration and his self awareness of it in old age.

It is a page from my accordion book project about Cajal.  Each fold out or open page is 5" x 13," and contains a unique drawing. This work is an ongoing evolving work that chronologically through the fusion of Surrealism and Romanticism, portrays his childhood imagination and biographical events from that time.

Other images from the accordion book are featured below from beginning to its current end.  This project is ongoing, so other pages will be added.














Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Day 2015, drawing of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

In celebration of Santiago Ramón y Cajal's birthday, annually I create a new drawing or painting.  This year I drew a portrait where Cajal is positioned at the edge of the format, and through composition and surrealism explore his tendency to think of subjects in tandem, specifically the past and the shaping of the present by the past.  In this drawing there is represented a fusion and juxtaposition of his thoughts & perceptions of neural networks and his recollections of his explorations of abandoned castles of his youth.  With total and heightened awareness, I would say that Cajal lived his daily life in three parallel states:  recollecting the past, active discovery in the present, and visualizing the future.  In his biographies he makes clear how much his scientific observations were shaped by his boyhood perceptions & experiences.



May Day 2015, graphite and ink on paper, 5" x 13"



An excerpt from Merlin's Song by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring,
With sudden passion languishing,
Maketh all things softly smile,
Painteth pictures mile on mile,
Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths,
Whence a smokeless incense breathes."


Sunday, April 12, 2015

At the NIH...drawing Cajal's drawings!

It is remarkably humbling to study, by drawing, another artist's work.  It is said that to understand a work of art, one must see that work of art in person.  I agree, and I would take that sentiment a step further and add that to truly understand some works, one must draw them.

In my current body of artwork, I have committed myself to studying and researching the life and scientific work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal.  Recently, I have had the opportunity to view some of his drawings that are currently on display at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.  The exhibit, curated by NINDS Senior Investigator, Jeffery Diamond, Ph. D., features six samples of Cajal's original drawings, on loan from El Instituto Cajal.

I have had the opportunity to visit the works twice, and during each visit, I spent several hours drawing his drawings.  Seeing Cajal's original drawings in person is extraordinary.  The works are much, much more than anatomical recordings.  The line quality of his work is descriptively delicate:  refined, sensitive and elegant, like other great masters - Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, etc.  Half of the works on display were created in a straight forward manner with ink.  By that I mean, it is evident he did not draw those particular works out in pencil prior to adding the ink.  His level of skill and mastery allowed him to draw and develop an entire concept or observation with ink.  This means, there was no erasing.  What careful, thoughtful and remarkable precision in his recordings of the contours and qualities of the neurons.

The exhibit at the NIH has taken my understanding of Cajal to a new level.  Below, I am posting some photos of the exhibition on display at the NIH and my studies of Cajal's drawings.

When viewing my studies of Cajal's work below, bear in mind, I approached them in the same manner as Cajal:  with ink and no erasing.  My work in comparison to Cajal's, however, is flawed with some proportion, linear and scale issues.  While they may not be a prefect mirror of the master's work, I have learned a great deal from the process of creating them.

I feel so fortunate and I am thankful to all of the efforts put forth by Dr. Diamond and the El Instituto of Cajal in bringing these highly important drawings to the United States.  I look forward to studying these works more in the future.



The display panel and exhibition of Cajal's work currently on view at the NIH.



My drawing study of Cajal's hippocampus drawing.



The display panel and exhibition of Cajal's work currently on view at the NIH.



My drawing study of Cajal's drawing of the cerebellum.



The display panel and exhibition of Cajal's work currently on view at the NIH.



My drawing study of Cajal's drawing illustrating and comparing his theory with Golgi's.  This study of mine is the least complete.  For his illustration comparing his theory to Golgi's, Cajal first drew it in pencil.  I decided to stop my study/drawing about midway.  Next time I draw this work, I am going to sketch it out first in pencil - like Cajal.


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I have posted the below writing by John Berger on this blog before, and I am posting it again today, as I feel it really relates to what Cajal did and what I am attempting to understand in his work.


Inspiration from “A Painter of Our Time,” By John Berger


June 26

It is the most profound activity of all, this one of drawing.  And the most demanding.  It is when I draw that I regret the weeks, the years perhaps, that I have wasted.  If, as in the fairy stories, I could grant a gift to a child who was to become a painter, it would be a long life, so that he might master this activity of drawing.  What so few people realize is that the painter, unlike the writer or the architect or the designer, is both creator and executant of his art.  He needs two lives.  And, above all, to master drawing.  Nearly every artist can draw when he has made a discovery.  But to draw in order to discover – that is the godlike process, that is to find effect and cause.  The power of colour is nothing compared to the power of the line; the line that does not exist in nature but which can expose and demonstrate the tangible more sharply than can sight itself when confronted with the actual object. To draw is to know by hand – to have the proof that Thomas demanded.  Out of the artist’s world is solid, material. But the proof is never familiar.  Every great drawing – even if it is of a hand or the back of a torso, forms perceived thousands of times before – is like the map of a newly discovered island.  Only it is far easier to read a drawing than a map; in front of a drawing it is the five senses that make a surveyor.

All great drawing is drawing by memory.  That is why it takes so long to learn.  If drawing were transcription, a kind of script writing, it could be taught in a few years.  Even before a model, you draw from memory.  The model is a reminder. Not of a stereotype that you know by heart.  Not even of anything you can consciously remember.  The model is a reminder of experiences you can only formulate and therefore only remember by drawing.  And those experiences add up to the sum total of your awareness of the tangible, three-dimensional, structural world.  A blank page of a sketch-book is a blank, white page.  Make one mark on it, and the edges of the pages are no longer simply where the paper was cut, they have become the borders of a microcosm.  Make two marks on it of uneven pressure and the whiteness ceases to be whiteness and becomes opaque three-dimensional space that must be made less opaque and more and more lucid by every succeeding mark.  That microcosm is filled with the potentiality of every proportion you have ever perceived or sensed.  That space is filled with the potentiality of every form, sliding plane, hollow, point of contact, passage of separation you have ever set eye or hand on.  And it does not stop there.  For, after a few more marks, there is air, there is pressure and therefore there is bulk and weight.  And this scale is then filled with the potentiality of every degree of hardness, yieldingness, force of movement, activeness and passiveness that you have ever buried your head in or knocked it against.  And from all this you must select in a few minutes, as nature did through millennia, in order to create a human ankle, a human arm-pit with the pectoral muscle burying itself like an underground stream, or the bough of a tree.  From all this you must select the one lock and one key.  I think I would grant three lives not two.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Work in Progress:

This post contains images from one of my current studio projects in which I am creating artwork inspired by the life and scientific research of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who is considered by many to be the father of modern neuroscience.  Featured in this post are a magazine article written about the project, photos from a recent exhibition at the University of West Georgia, my long term completed works, and some of my short term, less finished studies.  Many of these works have appeared previously on this blog sometime during the last year and a half, beginning in October of 2013.  The intent of this post is to create a concessive overview of the project's progress.


Jasper Magazine Article featuring my artwork inspired by the life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal.
Below is the link to the online copy of the Jasper Magazine article "The Artist and the Scientist," pp. 50-52.  Use you right arrow on your keyboard to view the pages in the online publication.  




Man as Sunflower, acrylic and graphite on paper, 14" x 17," 2014 



May Day:  Cajal in Spring, acrylic on Yupo paper, 26" x 40,"  2014

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring (here with a falcon)

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring (here with a camera)

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring

detail May Day:  Cajal in Spring




Exhibition at University of West Georgia, Fall 2014

Exhibition at University of West Georgia, Fall 2014

Exhibition at University of West Georgia, Fall 2014



Nuclei Nest, graphite, acrylic and ink on paper, 18" x 24," 2014

detail of Nuclei Nest

detail of Nuclei Nest

detail of Nuclei Nest

detail of Nuclei Nest




Studio shot of four works based on the Inspiring Branches drawing (third from the right.)



“Nothing inspires more reverence and awe in me than an old man who knows how to change his mind.”
 -Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Man, Sunflower, and Nuclei Nests, graphite, acrylic and ink on paper, 18" x 24," 2014

detail of Man, Sunflower, and Nuclei Nests,

detail of Man, Sunflower, and Nuclei Nests




Inspiring Branches, graphite and ink on paper, 18" x 24," 2014




"I completed my latest work which features fledgling Cardinal.  I was stunned a couple of weeks ago when I spotted one.  Unexpected to me was the neutral and somewhat cool red-violet hue of the tiny bird, because adult Cardinals are red-orange and red-brown in hue.  I was struck and in awe, and felt the sweet tiny creature would fit nicely into my latest work." -Dawn Hunter, August 1, 2014.  

Fledgling, acrylic, ink and graphite on Yupo, 18" x 24"

detail of Fledgling

detail of Fledgling



Below are images from a sketchbook that I created for the project.  The drawings have become significantly developed, and now the sketchbook had evolved into a comprehensive "book arts" project.  All of the images are graphite, acrylic, and ink on paper.  Referencing Cajal's biography, the images create a symbolic visual narrative of his life through referencing his neuroscience drawings, romanticism, and surrealism.

Beginning of the in progress "book arts" images:











End of the in progress "book arts" images



Conceptualizing neurons and nuclei in an unconventional portrait.

Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei, acrylic and ink on paper, 11" x 14"

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei

detail, Man as Sunflower, Sunflower as Nuclei




Portrait with tree branches and roots, acrylic, graphite and ink on paper, 14" x 17," 2-14


"The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents and great stretches of unknown territory."

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal




New painting study, acrylic and ink, 18" x 24"

Landscape study for the sake of neurons #1, marker on paper 9" x 12"

Study of sunflower #2, graphite an ink on paper, 14" x 17," 2014

Study of sunflower #1, ink on paper, 14" x 17," 2014

Aquarium study for the sake of neurons #2, marker on paper, 9" x 12," 2014

Aquarium study for the sake of neurons #1, marker on paper, 9" x 12," 2014



". . . Faith vigorously promotes longevity, while doubt can doom us to an early death."

"Blessed are those who give their lives to a great idea, for they will endure in and for it! . ."

Both quotes by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Café Chats (translated by Benjamin Ehrlich)





Surrealism, Spanish birds, Romanticism and the great outdoors: Summer time is cake,
graphite on paper, 14" x 17," 2014




Sketchbook page, May Day Birthday #3, marker, 
 and pen on paper, 9" x 12"

Sketchbook page, May Day Birthday #1, marker, 
 and pen on paper, 9" x 12"

Sketchbook page, May Day Birthday #2, marker, 
 and pen on paper, 9" x 12"



The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.

-  Edwin Way Teale




Below:  An intersection of experience and memory...The cockroaches of the stray and hay that frightened him while incarcerated as a youth during the 19th century, informed his scientific research as a man.

Forthcoming project study #10, ink on paper, 5.5" x 13," 2013

Forthcoming project study #9, ink on paper, 5.5" x 13," 2013

Forthcoming project study #8, ink on paper, 5.5" x 13," 2013


Sketchbook Drawing of an Over the Top May Day Birth Announcement:


Forthcoming project study #7, pencil and ink on board, 10" x 11," 2013

Forthcoming project study #5, pencil and ink on board, 9" x 12," 2013


Below: trying to visualize what a 19th century boy would draw in the margins of his latin book while distracted:

Forthcoming project study #6, digital study, 2013

Forthcoming project study #4, ink on board, 9" x 12," 2013

May's exquisite fragrance
of lilacs in my room;
Has brought me joy and
 
pleasure and kept my
heart in tune.

The lilies-of-the-valley
strike up their notes of cheer.
For Mother's Day and May Day
are at this time of year.
 

Florence Weaver


Forthcoming project study #3, ink on board, 9" x 12," 2013

Forthcoming project study #2, ink on board, 9" x 12," 2013

Forthcoming project study #1, ink on board, 9" x 12," 2013