Beaver Skull 1

Oil painting by Twomey
Beaver Skull 1

Found this beautiful skull in an antique shop in Cleveland, Ohio. I loved that I could just hold it in my hand and turn it every which way.

It was such a pleasure to stare at it for hours, and I enjoy the menacing, almost alive look to it as I continue to paint. I don't feel it's finished yet, but I wanted it out there - released, ready to chew down a tree.

Don't know if I'm going to sell this yet. I'm definitely going to continue this series; it brought so much pleasure and intensity. There's a deer and horse skull waiting.

Learning By Comparing

Two images, one of the oil painting and the other of the skull, comparing bony landmarks.

Ok, don't jump to conclusions, I am NOT finished with the Wickers portrait on the left! It is, however, slowly getting there, so I thought I'd take a break and show some anatomical landmarks from an actual equine skull, and where they are showing up on the oil painting.

The skull on the right is not Wicker's skull!! She is still alive and happily sleeping since at this moment, here in Virginia it's pretty warm & humid, so the horses are outside grazing overnight and sleeping in their stalls during the day. 

You can see that the skull (right) does not line up perfectly with Wicker's head. For example, Wicker's eye is lower down on her face, whereas her infraorbital foramen is higher. Of course, different ages, sizes and breeds of horses can all influence where features turn up. In addition, there can be anatomic anomalies (see "biology") that get thrown into the mix. 

When you're aiming for accuracy and believability, it helps to identify major bony landmarks to make sure you've included them and to also judge whether or not you are seeing and placing them correctly.

What's Below the Surface?

Three important areas for the artist to understand horse's anatomy
- There are three areas needing refinement. The artist will see how their location, size and shape affect the horse's surface anatomy (also see photo below).

- The top illustration is the original, and was introduced here. Circles on the above left illustration show the most important areas needing clarification.

- The top red circle (left), the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint,is the hinge between the horse's jaw and skull. On the right illustration, you can now see where the Coronoid Process of the mandible (lower jaw) passes behind the zygomatic arch, thus completing the joint. Take a look at these two images to see how this joint works.

- The lowest circle, where the upper and lower teeth meet, illustrates the meeting of the upper and lower teeth where the upper and lower teeth have been defined. Compare the hardness/boniness  of the area around the mouth to the softer skin of the nose and lower face. 

- In the medical illustration on the right above I've labelled other landmark features that can influence the artist's work. We'll get into their importance later; but here you can see important arteries, veins and nerves travelling through these "holes" (foramen) in the skull that can appear on the surface of a painting.

- Some common anatomy terms to help the artist recognize what their function is: 

Never Finished Learning....and Photo Shoots?

I took another hard look at the skeleton/bone illustration I recently posted; the one of the horse's head and neck. It was drawn back in December - February, right before I went into surgery for a new knee. Therein lay the problem! I can see now I rushed and wasn't careful.

Looking closely at the image, I see several anatomical errors, and they drive me crazy! I'll mark them up and post the image again for closer scrutiny. That's the good thing about stepping away from a piece for awhile: everything that you thought looked just fine before takes on a whole new perspective, and in this case, it needs fixin!

The hospital where I had my surgery (Martha Jefferson in Charlottesville) has decided that I was an ideal patient. They clearly did not talk to anyone involved in my recovery.

Tomorrow Martha Jeff is flying in photographers and a make-up artist to do a photo shoot. That's not something I've ever said before. They want to show me riding Miss Kiwi, a lovely mare at the farm next door, to show how well my knee works and how quickly I've been able to recover. Sure didn't seem that way at the time! Ms. Kiwi will be getting some serious bribery carrots.

Anyway, as evidenced by the photo left, clearly I am used to photo shoots with Brad & Angie, which was taken right after my surgery, at the Academy Awards. Gosh, I love Photoshop.

Hoping to post tomorrow, but it's going to be a busy day, what with make-up artists and all....