Study Overview

Medical Illustration: The Intersection Between Art and Science 

Independent Study Continuation Proposal 

Alex Hogue

Faculty advisor: Mrs. Whiting

Goal statement/ purpose:

To learn about the intersection of art and science through medical illustration by exploring neurobiology and visually depicting the internal processes of the body. To create illustrations that promote an understanding of neurodiversity, specifically an understanding of learning and developmental disabilities. And to make the medical world and an understanding of one’s medical diagnosis more accessible through art. 

Driving questions:

  • In what ways do art and science/ medicine intersect? 
  • How does visually describing what cannot outwardly be seen in the body benefit us and our understanding of the body?
  • What do practicing medical illustrators think about when creating their work? What are the most important techniques and strategies to consider?
  • How can medical illustrations be relevant to ordinary people? How can I create a project and illustrations that benefit real people? 
  • Medical jargon is not easy for patients to follow, so how can an understanding of one’s body or a medical condition be made more accessible to the average person through art?

Preliminary list of resources and activities:

  • Medical Illustration and Anatomy:
    • Netter, Frank H. The Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations: a Compilation of Pathological and Anatomical Paintings. Ciba Pharmaceutical Products, 1953.
    • Schnalke, Thomas. Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body. Phaidon Press, 2019.
  • New resources about learning disabilities:
  • Talk with doctors, patient advocacy groups, and/or patients to learn directly about how art can apply to medicine and how my pamphlet could be useful
  • Reach out to Dr. Holmes at Duke about visiting the cadaver lab to practice medical illustration from life
  • Using Procreate or another digital art program to create digital drawings and animations 
  • Check out Annie Campbell and DrawBioMed Scientific Illustrator Jon on YouTube (medical illustration videos and tutorials) for inspiration

Month-by-month plan:

January:

Work on composing a draft of my pamphlet with everything I have learned about learning disabilities during the first semester. Do extra research or illustrations as needed to fill in the gaps. Reach out to doctors and people who may find this useful to get their input. 

February:

Finish a draft of my booklet, and then start making new illustrations and even animations! In December, I started exploring animations of the brain using Desmos. Most modern medical illustration is done digitally, so continue exploring digital art with illustrations and animations of the brain. Research digital art programs to find one I like, and explore digital medical illustration techniques from practicing medical illustrators. Also talk with Ms. GB about using digital art programs.  

March:

Continue working on digital drawings and animations, and potentially decide on a new topic of neurobiology to explore. Maybe continue with a similar idea and learn about ADHD or autism.

April:

Add to and revise my pamphlet from the beginning of the semester with any new drawings and research. Create both a digital version as well as one that could be printed out. 

Reach out to people who may find this useful– maybe pediatricians, teachers at the middle or lower school or people at DA with learning disabilities, or the teacher I worked with last year at McDougle Middle School with “Connecting Kids with Art.”

May: 

Put the finishing touches on my project, and give it to my target audience. Maybe present it to DA faculty because I think it could potentially be useful for students at DA to help people better understand learning disabilities  

*I plan to meet with Mrs. Whiting every other week during C periods

Expected final product:

A portfolio of medical illustration work from throughout the year that demonstrates what I have learned about neuroanatomy, the field of medical illustration, and learning disabilities. I plan to create a final “illustration book” or pamphlet that goes in-depth to visually describe learning and developmental disabilities in the brain that I will hopeful pass out to people who will find it useful.