I will spend the upcoming months working on a group art show. The theme of the show is drawing the human body from life. Paintings and drawings will be included.
I'm editing and finishing work for the show. When I work on longer drawings and paintings, I sometimes use anatomy books as a reference. Although I have many anatomy books, one of my favorite authors is George Bridgman. Bridgman taught anatomy for artists at the Art Student League of New York for 45 years. Bridgman's approach is unique; he doesn't just show the bones and muscles of the body, he analyzes the mechanics and their movement. Bridgman's expanation of a shoulder shows a diagram of a machine-like system with a wheel and pully. Another example is a diagram that shows the abduction and adduction of the foot. Some titles of his books are The Human Machine ( 1939), and Constructive Anatomy (1920). In Drawing from Life, which is a compostite of former books and first published in 1952, Bridgman shows balance and rhythm within the figure. In one chapter, he compares the figure to architectural mouldings.
Of course, the most important part of a good drawing is the original design and gesture. However, for longer drawings or for study, reference books help the understanding of the mechanics of the body.