Surgical Sketching

I’ve already lost track of how many weeks into the Fall semester (and my 2nd year at BVIS), and there is already a ton going on.  One of the more exciting things happening is Surgical Illustration.

I love observing surgery. I’m not entirely sure there’s much else to say about that. Last week we had the review of our “surgical scavenger hunt,” which we went into a bunch of different surgeries and sketched out certain elements of an operation: closure, dissection, hemostasis, tissue manipulation, etc.

I was pretty nervous about sketching in the OR.  I was sure I would knock something over, trip a surgeon, or some other apocalyptic accident.  Fortunately, things so far have been smooth.  Getting my sketching technique down was a little difficult at first too. With all the digital work going on, it’s been awhile since I sketched from life, and even longer since I sketched something moving. Naturally, I have a really fluid, sketchy style of drawing – which the pace of the OR didn’t accommodate.  I finally got into the flow (on of all days, the last day).



Pen and Ink Final Project in Photoshop

I spent a long time putting off writing the entry about my final Pen and Ink drawing, mending the wounded egos and crippled hands.  The first project from a month long break was a tough one, and as much as everyone loves an extended Winter Break, “re-entry” back into the workflow stinks.

This illustration is of the blood supply to the thyroid gland, located in the neck.  Generally I’m surprised at what I was able to achieve in the illustration, with no prior pen and ink experience and being an artist that prefers tonal drawings to line drawings.  In a perfect world, I would fix some of the flaws, but this is the state it is in for now.

Pen and Ink as a Lost (on me) Art.

Pen and ink might be a medium best left to graphic novelists and those who don’t drink a lot of coffee.  In an attempt to make myself a little more well rounded, I (as well as the entire Illustration Techniques class) took a stab at the fine art of pen-and-ink: traditional style.  Among the flashbacks of colonial-themed summer camps, I managed to produce a few reasonable ink-ings for someone who grew up in front of a computer perfecting the rate of her words-per-minute.

Now I can, in no way, take all (if any) the credit here.  These images are copies of a great series of practice drawings developed by professional pen-and-inker Gerald P. Hodge, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Medical Illustrators in 1988.

If anything, practicing pen and ink shows how meticulous of an art it is, and it requires multitudes of practice to learn and perfect.  Regardless of any other technical expertise in art, especially in a time far removed from using quills and pens dipped in ink for every day use, it is nearly impossible to pick up a pen and create a masterful work.  And when maybe you do, ink splatters out of the pen onto your drawing (see spot on blood vessel).  So, anyone attempting this for the first time (or even the 70th) shouldn’t feel discouraged.