Drawings from “De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body)” by Andreas Vesalius, et al. Ink on paper.

I was in Dallas over this past weekend to see my daughter. Visited the art museum and took in a stunning exhibition of Flemish masterworks. “Saints, Sinners, Lovers and Fools.”

It took me a moment to realize at what I was looking. The real thing. I spent countless hours studying reproductions, but these were the originals. Under glass, inches from my carpal flanges. The shock of it staggered my emotions, and tears welled in my eyes. I can’t relate how important this book (these books) of drawings—these books, seven of them combined—were to my young life as an artist, and a man. The study of these drawings, and the university’s collection of human bones, changed who I am. It influenced how I think and what I value.

As part of my senior thesis I was required to draw two life-sized human skeletons… from memory. Anterior, posterior, lateral or oblique… choose two. I chose anterior and left anterior oblique, though in hindsight I wish I had chosen a posterior oblique. We worked on these in class, no cheating. Incredible challenge, but I think I did a fair job of it.