Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Archive for the ‘thoughts’ tag

Ray Bradbury

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The world lost one of the good ones yesterday.  Ray Bradbury died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

I got to meet him once, back when I lived in LA.  I went to a book signing just so I could shake his hand and tell him thanks.  He signed my copy of The Martian Chronicles and a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes for a friend who couldn’t make it.  He couldn’t believe I was such a fan of work he’d written over 50 years prior.  But The Martian Chronicles continues to be one of my all-time favorite books.

There wasn’t another sci-fi author out there with so much heart.  Really, I’m not sure there was another any kind of writer that got people like Bradbury did.  You might say I was a bit of a fan.

This is him, in his home.  According to the Google News link where I found it, he said that he never threw anything away.

From everything I know about him, he was about as good a guy as they get.  And Los Angeles always felt a little bit nicer knowing he was out there in it, still madly in love with Hollywood after all those years.  I’m sorry to see him go.  He planted magic into the hearts and minds of millions.

In the afterword of the short story collection “Driving Blind,” Bradbury writes of a dream wherein he was taken in a student driver car (he never did learn to drive) by a blindfolded Greek muse, who “whispered notions, concepts, ideas, immense truths, and fabulous lies” as she drove him along a country road.  She told him that it was okay not to know the way, and to just reach out.

I don’t know where you’re headed now, Ray, but I like to think of you reaching out, and I hope that it’s wonderful.

Written by Sara

June 6th, 2012 at 10:22 pm

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Getting to Know Materials at the Molecular Level and Loving It

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I made silicone!  Ok, I made virtual silicone, but it’s still exciting to me.  It was a work thing, so I hesitate to go into the details of the particular need, but the exciting part is that Marvin Sketch really is as cool as I thought it was, and I was able to draw out the individual atoms of a silicone polymer chain and produce a 3D model of that chain.  And after working for years with varying kinds of silicones and studying their properties, that was just really cool for me.  I’ve never really known the chemistry side of all of these materials I’ve been working with.  I mean, I have notes somewhere about long polymer chains producing a different effect than the short ones (without looking it up, I want to say that the short ones were more brittle), but I really think that I could understand that so much better now with all the exposure to chemistry I am getting.

Oh drat, I wanted to show an image of the simple illustration you get out of Marvin Sketch, but it seems that the recent security hazards in allowing Java on a Mac (maybe this hits PCs too, I’m not sure), have my Java access shut down here at home for the time being.  Anyway, I remain enthusiastic about this tool.  And I’ll have it working from home again soon.  And here, I’ll grab an image from Custom Silicone Rubberparts to give you an idea of what I mean.  Hopefully they won’t mind because I am linking to them.

 

But yeah, we get to create models like that, which make me think about what it would take to literally make materials like that.  It all starts with the knowledge, right?

And in the meantime I shake my fist at all those hackers and spammers out there that keep mucking up perfectly good tools for the rest of us.  Java is a good tool.  There’s no reason to mess with that.  And all the spam comments I get here and even worse on my photo site, not cool.  But making silicone, virtually, or for really really real, very cool.  And all you real people who sometimes leave comments here, absolutely cool.  🙂

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May 22nd, 2012 at 8:54 pm

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Cringe

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Well, it’s happened.  I’ve become one of those people who gets annoyed by anatomical inaccuracies.  I don’t think I’ve gone completely twitchy about it.  I can live with something stylized, or an honest admission of what one does not know.  I can handle the occasional honest mistakes too.  But I’ve caught myself a few times lately, cringing in the face of just blatantly misleading or flat out wrong information out there.  And since the world at large isn’t really known for always being on the level and explaining things well, I think this is going to be one of those things that is going to keep on bothering me.  Yup.

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May 21st, 2012 at 10:51 pm

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A few thoughts before bed…

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I keep meaning to update here and not getting around to it.  Actually I should have some images to share soon.  I think the okay got lost amidst the people who would say yay or nay to putting company work up on a private blog, but Sapling seems to be pretty open to that kind of thing in general.

I’m actually still really digging the crew we’ve got going over there.  They’re a refreshingly nice blend of being ready to put the money, time, and effort into getting the art right, but then also they haven’t lost sight of the educational goal in chasing all the pretty, flashy, possibilities.  That may sound just plain reasonable, but it’s really not a balance I’ve seen very many strike.  We even took a little time the other day to gather together and watch a presentation on illusions, and how visual aids can fail to make content clearer sometimes.  The speaker (who’s name I apologize for forgetting), had done some previous work recording eye movements as subjects looked at various illustrations.  I can’t tell you how much I would love to have such a device.  He seemed to think that no one had any kind of sense of how the eye is drawn around an illustration, but I remember back in my early college photography days being taught to close your eyes, or look away for a moment and then flash your image in front of your face, and pay attention to where your eyes land first, and where they are pulled from there.  It’s not as scientific as when you get actual recordings on the eye movements themselves, but I couldn’t help wondering if being taught to do that so early on hasn’t affected the way I construct artwork today.  Really, I suppose there is a bit of a cross-over between journalism and education with regard to art.  I guess I never thought about it before.  It’s all art that’s meant to express something external to the artist, and give the viewer information.  And you have the same choices to make about being flashy and eye-grabbing, being clear and informing, what details to include, what to leave out, the possibility of being misleading….  I don’t know why I never thought to compare the two fields before.

Well, that’s a whole tangent that could have been explored in it’s own post.  If only I had the time to rewrite, but your writer is a tired girl tonight.  My point in starting that whole story was simply that I’m enjoying working for people who really think about that kind of stuff, people who would take a break in the day to watch someone speak on illusions, visual misinformation, and how all that applies to learning.

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March 28th, 2012 at 11:09 pm

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Thoughts and Work of Late

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Lately, I have been getting to know Cinema 4D.  And I think that I am finally starting to make some progress with it.  The other day I decided to model a DNA strand.  This is actually a pretty simple modeling design.  To do it, I used a cloner on a slightly flattened cylinder and then used larger flattened cylinders on either side, like a ladder.  The whole thing was placed under a null named DNA and then I applied the twist modifier to it.

From there, I’ve been poking around learning to render out of the program.  I’m familiar with the idea of rendering in passes from my previous work with both 3DsMax and also Maya.  I’m still getting the hang of the new system of doing things, but I think I’m going to like working with this program in the long run.

So here is the DNA I made yesterday.

Purple DNA with Logo

And then today, I started animating the models, and playing with some moving particles in the background, so hopefully soon I’ll have an animated piece to share from this!

It’s funny.  I had the pleasure of attending the Austin City Limits taping of Radiohead last night (and I swear I’m going somewhere with this and not just saying that to brag).  As I watched them play, I couldn’t get over how well rounded of musicians they were.  Back when I first started listening to them, I’d thought that they wouldn’t be a very good show live because I thought that most of what they did happened in a computer.  They are so technically proficient, and they use such a variety of instruments, they couldn’t possibly actually play all of those instruments live on stage, could they?  Oh yeah, they can and do.  And while I’m watching this, I’m thinking about the level that some artists hit where tools/instruments… they are just exactly that.  We spend so much time trying to learn to use these tools, to master them.  But for everything that comes with that, it’s what we want to do with that expertise that really matters.  I want to be the kind of artist who can use a multitude of tools.  I want to be the kind of artist who can pick up a new tool for the purposes of particular piece.  I want to reach that.

One of the things that has been so nice about working at Sapling Learning, is the sheer variety of what I get to do from one day to the next.  And as frustrating as it can be, having to switch tools when you know something else better, I love that feeling that comes when you start to get a handle on a variety of tools.  The focus, it shifts back onto your message again, where it was back before you knew how to do anything, only now you can get it out.

Anyway, I’m not quite there yet.  But I’m working on it.  Getting to work with a variety of subject matters really suits me too.  For all the times I’ve been told that this trait makes me unmarketable as an artist, I’m finding that it does serve me well in other respects.  Get ready, I may be on the verge of breaking out the paints here in Austin soon!

 

 

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March 7th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

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As we get further into February

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Next week I will arrive at having put in my first month at the new job.  For those of you that don’t know, I’m working for Sapling Learning.  We do online homework and ebooks, and goodness what we do here with Sapling is leaps and bounds beyond anything I ever had to do online with any of my classes.  My first week down here, I actually ran into some chemistry students at a bar and they all knew Sapling and loved it.  A fair bit of my graduate project was in education, and it’s really great being a part of something that is so clearly an educational benefit to so many.

I can’t say that I’ve been doing a lot else in the realm of either anatomy or art lately.  It will probably take me a while to settle in enough with the new place to start painting again.  I have found that I am one of those finicky artists when it comes to personal projects.  Right now, I’m still looking for where to put all the paintings I moved here with.  Much love to the people who bought art from me before the move down here.  In my last week in Chicago I was able to sell my two most recent paintings.

Running in the Moonlight

 

Feel

 

I’m not sure if I’ve been getting especially better over the past few years, or people simply like things that are new, but it seems like my newer pieces keep selling even though I still have some that I’ve carried with me for years now.  Come to think of it, I suppose last year was pretty much my decade mark for getting into painting as a personal endeavor.  I took classes when I was a kid all the way through high school, but then I stopped for some years when I went off to college.  It wasn’t until 2001 that I picked up a brush again and went for it.

Well, this has been a bit of a meandering post.  My apologies for being such a scatterbrain tonight, but I intend to blame moving for at least another couple weeks as far as such things are concerned.  You may think that’s just a slack excuse, but I am a firm believer in the principle that one’s surroundings influence them.  Everything at work is so nice and uncluttered, and I have been a right bastion of focus there at times.  Home, not so much, not yet.  I do a lot of walking around in circles when I’m home, going from one thing that needs doing to the next.  It’s like that.    And that’s exactly what I’m going to get back to now.

Thank you for reading!

Written by Sara

February 9th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

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What’s in a Frame?

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So for the most part, I’ve been in a work haze lately.  Between the store where I’ve been working part time, and picking up almost every other hour I have on that 3D anatomy graphics gig lately, it’s been like one big cyclone of work work work.  But, in the midst of that haze, I was afforded one particular Tuesday afternoon to relax with a visit from The Delightfully Wicked Elmo Martin.  While he was in town, we took the opportunity to peruse the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.  Now, I hadn’t previously been there, and in part that’s because I tend to have less appreciation for modern art than I do a lot of it’s predecessors.  But I have to say that going with someone who does have a greater appreciation for more high concept art projects was indeed enlightening.  One of the expressions that kept coming up is that “It’s all about the frame.”

But no, the frame isn’t just a physical frame on something, but more the overall framework in which the work is presented.  For a lot of the pieces we saw there, the whole room and the conceptual explanation was the frame.  I can get into that to an extent, but there is still a part of me that wants an artistic piece to stand on it’s own merit.  When I create fine art, I want people to be taken by it on it’s own right, and not just because they know the backstory, or because they studied really hard to get it.  And in taking this idea of calling all of that the frame, I couldn’t help but be amused with the introspection that I have, for years, gone out of my way to paint the edges of my paintings so that they do not require a frame.  And yes, as my friend pointed out, no frame is a kind of frame.  Sure.  But it got me thinking about what my frame of no frame means. If the frame is the packaging, the story, really if you think about it, the sales pitch even, then what does it mean that I’m always choosing to frame my work framelessly?  Or maybe being frameless in it’s most literal sense is fine, but it does make me think about the other ways in which I frame my work.  Sometimes I show things on this very blog.  I also have the gallery pages of all of my paintings.  These aren’t especially fancy presentations.  So maybe that’s something I should be paying more attention to.  The lack of bells and whistles has always felt more honest to me, but is it really?  And maybe presentation in general is something that I could work on in other aspects of my art, and even my life as well. Whether it’s a proper setting to display my paintings, or a clean lab coat in the clinic, it probably wouldn’t hurt for me to work on presentation a little.  Or maybe I should just make my own gallery where the only frames are on the benches where the patrons can sit.  I mean, they’re a part of the art experience too.  And maybe if I ever have my own anaplastology clinic, I’ll have extra lab coats for the patients to wear, so that we might all collaborate as experts working toward a common goal.  Now that’s my kind of frame.

Written by Sara

November 8th, 2011 at 12:16 am

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Telecommunications

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In a couple more days, I’ll be a week into life without a cell phone.  Last Tuesday night I was either pick-pocketed or somehow dropped my cell phone.  And I have to say it’s been a novel experience.

We are so tied to our gadgets these days.  My phone wasn’t even all that fancy, it was an old Blackberry, but I’ve lost so many phone numbers, and I’m realizing just how integrated texting, and calling on the go has become to my way (and not just my way, but my culture’s way) of doing things.  I’ve realized that even with the spotty reception, being able to get a map up on my phone has been valuable to me, and I do enjoy taking the occasional picture, maybe even uploading it to Facebook. Sometimes I show paintings in progress online via that phone.

At the same time, it’s been peaceful in a way, not being so frequently frustrated with missed calls or bad reception.  I don’t loose so many moments to waiting on lag, trying to catch a signal, and trying to type out messages on such a tiny little keyboard.  My phone isn’t there to vie for my attention anymore.  And on some level, that’s been a nice break.

But, I have to do something.  I’ve spoken with the people who have my phone, and they keep stringing me along, but it doesn’t seem like they’re ever actually going to give it back.  And all of the resumes I’ve sent out have had my cell line as the contact number.  So, it’s time to get a new one. Which means I have to make a decision about upgrading into the high tech world of modern smart phones, or downgrading into a simpler phone.

And while this may all seem irrelevant for a site called Anatomy and Art, I think that it’s more relevant than you might think.  The new crop of smart phones have really become more like computers that get carried around than just phones.  With them come any number of potential merits in business, connectivity, and general usefulness.  One of my favorite applications available is that you can literally get a piece of plastic to attach to one’s phone and run a credit card through it.  Anyone who’s ever participated in an art show knows how utterly fantastic a capability this is.  And a lot has been put in to the anatomical references available on these new devices.

Still, are we trading our real connectivity with the world for a virtual one through our phones?  Or has such virtual connectivity become a necessity in modern society?  And specifically, as an artist, are we giving up our time to observe the world around us for these fancy tools and virtual reference materials?  It seems like the ideal is to have access to those tools which allow for greater capability and increased opportunities without becoming so tied to these little gadgets as to stop looking around for ourselves.  Maybe that’s the obvious conclusion, but I think it’s worth saying out loud (or typing on the web as the case may be).

Written by Sara

October 16th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

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Thoughts of a Clinic

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Lately I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of just opening my own anaplastology clinic.  The most consistent advice I think I’ve gotten in anaplastology has been to not open my own clinic just out of school.  The wisdom being, that you don’t know enough just coming out of school to run your own place yet.  But with the job market as tight as it is, and so many anaplastologists choosing to work as single agents and not with each other, it’s starting to look like the only way may be just to put something together and hire yourself.  It’s true though, I don’t know enough.  I’m not sure that anyone ever really knows enough though until they’ve done it, maybe until they’ve done it twice even.  And so I’m thinking.

I’m thinking about things like where a new clinic is most likely to succeed.  Which states have friendlier business laws?  Would I need to hire more people?  How long would it take for doctors to start referring patients to me?  Would I want to advertise directly to the public and try to reach people that way?  Are there other similar needs that could take up some business while I am still building a patient base?  What are the odds of being able to share a working space with a collaborator of a similar lab needs?  Would I get someone to handle insurance claims for me, or could I possibly step around that all together by not accepting insurance at all?  If I did that I could probably afford to charge less.  How much would it cost to get building space and lab materials up and going?  Is this the worst idea ever or the best?

So yeah, that’s all just been on my mind lately as I look for opportunities.  And in the meantime, I get to keep in practice by helping some neighbors out with a couple of custom Halloween masks.  ‘Cuz, y’know it doesn’t always have to be medical.

Written by Sara

October 7th, 2011 at 9:59 am

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Going to Burning Man

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Well, it’s that time of year, and for the first time in four or five years, I’m headed out to Burning Man.  I’m really excited about the opportunity to make the trip again, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the event has changed while I’ve been away, and maybe even getting some perspective on how I have changed in my time away from it.  In the time since I last went, I’ve found a new career dream, I applied and completed the graduate program that I just finished.  I don’t think that I had even heard of anaplastology or thought of the idea of medical art the last time I was there.  I was focusing on anatomy in art around that time in my life, but had no idea the paths that would open for me.

I know that living in Chicago has changed me.  Any time you uproot and move, it changes you.  I know that my studies have changed me.  This program has been a huge challenge, and it has been a part of shaping the me I am today.  I look forward to conversations with old friends about the things that I have learned and the new dreams I have for the kind of work and life I want for myself.

A lot of people work very hard every year to create amazing art installations and beautiful things for this event.  I don’t have anything like that to bring at this point.  Believe me, it’s easy to get to thinking about what one would do with unlimited funds.  With the work I’ve done in the last year, the temptation becomes to make all kinds of anatomical art out there for people to interact with and play with in the middle of the desert.  But even without being able to do anything like that, I feel like I’m bringing some piece of the outside world with me.  I’m glad for the time I’ve taken away from this event, and for the things I’ve learned, and work I’ve done.  And now it’s time to go back, and challenge myself with desert living again, and learn a little more about myself outside of the academic environment again.

There is such a spirit of possibility out there.  Even just getting such a coveted ticket this year, well the odds were tough, but here I am going.  The people helping me get there, and who I will stay with are such ‘anything is possible’ people, that they never cease to inspire me.  I had to give some thought to allowing myself to be away from my computer and distracted from the job hunt to go, but I feel like this is the right decision.  I hope to return enriched, and ready for the next steps to come.  After all, if 50,000 or so people can come together to build a city in the desert for a week and then tear it all down just because they want to, what can’t we do?

Written by Sara

August 17th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

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