About Painting Hands
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Hands can be as expressive as faces. As a young artist, I noticed that a huge number of figurative paintings - even by REALLY FAMOUS ARTISTS - posed the models with their hands behind them, covered by an object or tucked into pockets. Or the artist simply cropped the painting so that hands were somewhere unseen, off the edge of the canvas. Check it out next time you go to a gallery or museum.
That led to a revelation: it's really hard to paint or draw hands. And the message: avoid hands whenever possible. I was having none of that!
I talk with my hands. Probably you do, too. Hands are a big part of body language, conveying attitude, expression and mood.
If I'm a figurative painter, I must be able to portray hands. So a long time ago I started drawing hands every chance I had. I sculpted hands in clay to get a three-dimensional sense of how hands worked, how they looked from all different angles, how they grasped objects or sat on hips or knees. After about ten years of this - remember, art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration - I actually got pretty good at it. So the "attitude" conveyed by this model's hands on her hips didn't come easily.