The National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland hosted a program titled Anatomy of Sports. I was one of the invited medical illustrators who painted muscles on athletes to show which muscles were used when playing different types of sports.
The athlete, the physical therapist, and the medical illustrator worked as a team to demonstrate and explain to the visitors while we painted muscles on the athletes. The athlete would demonstrate the movements, and the physical therapist would explain how common injuries occurred.
The main muscles used for swimming are: trapezius, pectoralis major, deltoids, biceps, triceps, infraspinatus, and lattisimus dorsi. I had tried out the makeup/pastel the day before, so I knew what to expect using a somewhat foreign medium.
I got to work with Kathy, a swimming instructor in the DC area. She was very patient with me and the visitors while I painted muscles on her skin. I felt like I had to paint quickly, but soon found out that the process was going very easily because Kathy already had prominent muscles. I could actually trace a lot of her muscles!
First I applied the base color. Then some broad shadows. Then more detailed shadows. After I was happy with the overall shape, I created highlights with the white makeup/pastel. Again, I would go from broad to detailed. Then I used a black watercolor pencil to differentiate the muscles and show some bony attachments.
The physical therapist was really knowledgeable and talked a lot about common swimming injuries. Even though swimming is considered a low-risk sport, there are ways to injure your shoulders. She also explained how to build muscle evenly to reduce strain on the trapezius.
After I was done painting, Kathy demonstrated some swimming motions. It was very neat to see that the painting over her skin was moving in conjunction to her arm motions! The visitors were asking about all kinds of personal injury stories.
It was so much fun seeing my friends and colleagues too!
Last but not least, a very talented PT painted the volleyball player (wow! she’s good!!)
What a fun day! It was very popular with the visitors despite the heat! I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year!