Maya's blog.

Peek inside the life of a medical animator and illustrator.

Live-painting at NASS

"NASS" stands for the North American Spine Society, and each year it holds an annual meeting much like other associations to become smarter, inspired, and updated in the field of spine surgery. This year I was invited by my client, Orthofix Spine, to attend the Chicago meeting with them and provide interest at their booth in the Technical Exhibition. I'd be painting fine art pieces [incorporating the spine] on the booth, and interacting with passersby. Then we would auction off the works to raise money for a donation to the NASS research fund.

I accepted the job, excited to use my looser fine-art painting techniques with a medical illustration client. Usually I do glossy product marketing images or operative technique illustrations for Orthofix Spine. This would be a chance to show off my drips and paint strokes outside my studio.

I showed Orthofix various pieces and got their feedback about which styles they liked. We decided to mix pen and ink drawings with messy loose background color. I drew the spines, vertebrae, and bone scaffolding I'd need ahead of time, on vellum, and adhered it to canvas with soft gel medium. (I've had good luck with this in the past, and can even get some of the canvas texture to show through my collage.) I can paint around and over the vellum after it's dry. We decided on four canvases, so I went ahead and finished two of them during the weeks prior to NASS. Then I arrived with two "blank" canvases that weren't all that blank, for painting on Wednesday and Thursday at the show. I'm very glad I approached it this way, as I had a plan and finished drawings to work with publicly. As I told some of the attendees, it wouldn't be as much fun to watch me draw a spine all morning. And it took the pressure off.

I was a little nervous - this was my first time painting live - and I stepped up to the easel with all my paints, brushes, and canvases prepared. For the first 30 minutes I felt butterflies, but then I settled in to the task. It was pretty fun, and even made me consider doing more live-painting in the future. I didn't mind groups of people watching me; in fact I tried to encourage questions when I could. My main challenge was timing my spurts of creation around the scheduled speakers who shared the same podium area. Yes, I'm saying that in the future I'd like fewer breaks!

After the paintings were complete, Orthofix held a silent auction at their Education and Technology Suite - which was at the Museum of Contemporary Art - and raised money for the NASS Research Fund. (Pretty cool stuff to be connected to.) It was a lovely evening, and fun for me to meet the surgeons and others who were bidding on my work. Can I say my work was "in" the MCA, even though it was only in the atrium? Probably not, but it was in the atrium, and that's awesome.

So, just wanted to share this new experience with you! My take-away is that I'm considering doing more live-painting events. I came home and immediately set up a permanent easel in my studio. The couch had to go... but who has time to sit? I can lounge around after I leave work for the day.

art lessons

I am going to teach some art again this summer!  I've missed it since I closed down my art store, where we did classes, workshops, private lessons and general mess-making.  Time to open up my home and try it out again. Come one, come all!  And please let me know if you have other ideas; I consider this only my first offering.   Summer Programs Schedule

on house-hunting

Saturday Clint and I started looking at houses in person.  We are looking in the area of the new building site for Orthofix  - my company will make the move in 2010 - since I am in love with a short commute.  This is only about 20 miles away from our current location, but it's too far for me.  

We are getting serious fast and would like to make an offer soon.  This means picking out a property ASAP and coming up with the cash to close.  An insight into our determination:  we have agreed to NO eating out until we close on a home - probably at least two months of this!  In addition we will need to pick up some extra work and sell some extra items/artwork.   

I am restocking my etsy site and will be painting a few new pieces to put up over the next weeks.    Art for downpayment money!!  You can't beat the feeling of brotherly love that comes free with every purchase.  

 baby bird in the city

art sale = it’s on

I have accomplished many goals this year. Getting dental work taken care of, making it to work on time consistently, drinking enough water for the first time in my life... I'm feeling pretty good about these things, for sure, but THIS goal was a little more fun. snowbird

Art sale paintings, done and done!! My task this week is spreading the word. I am trying to get in touch with a lot of people personally - of course this approach only reaches as far as the people I actually know. I think it's a great start though, since the people I know inspired me to do this project in the first place! If you think you might know someone I don't... won't you help me out and send them to my shop?

hello again, blog!

I write from a new part of the country with a newish job and a new fiance! Here's what's going on: In Jan 08 Clint and I moved to Newton Upper Falls, MA and I started working as a full-time medical illustrator for Argosy Publishing. I have really been enjoying my time there - how many people get to draw all day long, and draw anatomy at that? The east coast has taken some getting used to, but it's very charming and we have had some wonderful times, especially outdoors. wedding shoes!

Over Labor Day weekend, Clint proposed to me at my parents' house in Michigan. "About time," most people said, but it was the perfect timing, and very sweet. We will marry next September in Lansing, Michigan and then live happily ever after.

To back up a bit, I DID finally finish my thesis in March and I graduated from UT Southwestern in May. I am a diploma-carrying-Master-whatsit! I hope to become a CMI, Certified Medical Illustrator, and will be working on that over the next couple of years.

Currently, my outside-of-work project is a Holiday Art Sale of sorts! I have been painting since the beginning of October and now I just have to finish up and post the rest of my work. I've set up on online shop on etsy, and I'm pretty excited about the "opening" of my sale - it should happen in the next few days! After the holidays, I'll keep putting new work up, probably one piece at a time. Painting over the last month and a half has been SO good for me in every way, so I'm thinking I should do my best to continue.

hole in boatmountain fanmaple leaf

hip this!

In our first year of medical illustration school, we drew a hip bone. It seemed like a never-ending project at the time. When it was finally over, this is how I made use of some intermediate versions of the drawing. hip bone forever!