Lecture Night

This is the typical lecture environment students find themselves at the Florence Academy of Art (FAA). Every Monday from 5:30pm to 7:30pm would be my night to give a lecture on Artistic Anatomy. This lecture was open to all FAA students and anyone interested in the subject living in Florence at the time. However, these lectures were compulsory to those of my students in Écorché. I would average around 50 students a night including guests. Over the years, I've even had a number of medical personnel (a doctor, physicians and nurses) attend my lectures from time to time.


In this photo, I am about to begin my lecture as students are filing into the model room  and moving to the front of the class to collect the handouts I've prepared for that evening. All my handouts are drawn and created  by me, either from imagination or life. Drawing is the fundamental foundation for our studies. Drawing these forms and labeling these parts over and over again are an integral part of the student's education. I tell my students that I create the handouts to keep sharp. In other words, this is how I study. The handouts I create not only help in visually illustrating the ideas I present in the lecture but give the student an example from which they can begin to approach their studies.


Lights out. I use a digital projector when I lecture. My lectures usually run anywhere from 45 minutes (I haven't done one of those in a long time) to 2 hours - depending on the subject. I usually sit back with my students as I lecture but will often move back and forth to the front of the class depending on what needs to be explained or visually demonstrated on the model.


Here I am at my laptop.


I prepare over a 100 slides every night to illustrate the ideas and concepts I present in the lecture. The one you see here being projected is my own drawing.


There I am with a laser pointer... a handy tool for any lecture.


The visuals I prepare are from a number of sources... photos scanned from many anatomy books, photos of cadavers, slides of old master drawings, paintings, and sculptures, and photos taken from models.


Finally, I also include images of my own work. I think it's real important for me, as an instructor, to show the students what I do or have done so they get a better understanding of where I'm coming from.


In my many years of being a student, I have noticed a reluctance from some instructors to show students their own work. I believe this is wrong. I think it's real important for students to be aware of my process, including my failures and my successes.


Every lecture I have a model. Here I am pointing out to my students how the back of the deltoid slides across the infraspinatus, revealing even more it's flattened surface, especially when the arm is raised beyond the horizontal.

During the night, students often will have time to draw from the model... putting into practice the ideas given in the lecture. The model you see here this particular night is Wilson Guevara, one of the many talented students at the FAA.


There I am with another great model... the skeleton! Notice behind me the cast taken from the back of a cadaver and Houdon's Archer to my left. The image projected on the screen is another one of my drawings. I think here I am explaining  the role the head of the humerus plays in supination and pronation and it's rotation within the glenoid cavity.


It's real important for me to keep the information I give in my lectures applicable to what we encounter when working from the model. In other words -  I stay way from information that is too esoteric.  I'm not lecturing to medical students and I am certainly no doctor. I am just someone who is passionate about the human form and its function as it relates to drawing, painting, and sculpture. My only concern are the shapes under the skin that impact it's surface and create form.


Lights on. Class is just about over. I'm answering a number of questions at this point or maybe just on my soap box - preaching to my students how important it is for them and their studies to be drawing theses shapes over and over again.

Most of my students, before they come over to the FAA, have probably already taken a number of  anatomy classes before and/or have tried studying on their own at one time or another. Either way, most understand how easy it is to get overwhelmed by all the information and text.

I believe a good anatomy class should help a student develop a system for studying on their own and a good anatomy instructor should help make the information accessible and relevant.


Here I am looking a bit sheepish by the end of the night. It can get real cold in Florence during the fall and winter.

Copyright 2011