Hand Over Hand
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
There are seven hands to paint in this mural-sized "parade of hope and feathers". I've written about hands before. I have always considered them as expressive as faces, and sometimes even more difficult to portray. Having drawn hands in pencil, ink and charcoal, etched them, sculpted hands in clay, mastered them in pastels, monotypes and oil paints - I have probably portrayed thousands of hands.
To the right is a detail of Cape Light, a pastel on a solid gesso panel. See how the hands dominate the narrative.
For the past couple of weeks, the hands have had my attention. None are complete, but they are beginning to take on dimension and personality.
It would, of course, be easier to hide the hands behind the bodies, or off the edge of the painting. (Actually, if you look at a lot of paintings, the artist often does just that - to avoid having to draw or paint hands accurately!)
First I sketch the hands, paying attention to how the palms and fingers are connected, do the hands hold each other or an object? What is the perspective? Where is the light? Then I build up the paint almost like creating a sculpture. I try to think in three dimensions, imagine what can't be seen - in this case, how does her hand cup the top of her hand and hold the bird's feet?
Here's a sampling of some of my favorite hands.