Well, let’s try this again. I wrote this blog a few weeks ago, but accidentally deleted it. Frustrating. It’s been a few weeks since I did that, so...here we go.
I love the new year. I tend to go a little crazy with resolutions. Sometimes I have up to 20 goals for myself…ranging from finding a new author to running a 5k. I don’t much take it as a “YOU HAVE TO DO THIS, OR YOU FAIL” exercise. I just really love a fresh start with a list of ways to explore and self-improve. This year I kept my resolutions simple: Make more effort to be in contact with family and friends, focus on health, and slow things down. But then of course I started thinking about separate art resolutions. Before I knew it, I had come up with 21 Art Resolutions for 2021.
100 Pantone Cards Paintings (Focusing on Landscapes)
Hand Studies (All in one sketchbook)
Writing Projects put into small sketchbooks and add illustrations
Finish UNFINISHED projects: Circus, Greek Statues, Self Portraits
Master the camera!
Learn how to edit photos & paintings
Study graphic design
Start Etsy shop
Continue to write blogs
Update website---Buy the domain name
Finish plays, books and short stories
Start Writing a new book
Work on an album
Self portrait studies every week/day/month for the year
Paint my favorite outfits/accessories
Bread paintings for kitchen
Paint still lifes and landscapes of everyday things (apple, art studio, the house…)
Experiment with clay and sculpey (mugs/pins)
Rough out a botanical/witch tarot (Major Arcana)
Buy BIG leather book for future spell book
Write in journal whenever in the art studio
I recorded a YouTube video discussing each goal, but for today, I specifically want to focus on that pesky goal number two: HANDS.
What is it about drawing hands that completely and utterly...sucks? When I was in my studio classes, I made up a bullshit reason for always leaving out the hands on my people. But the truth? I was afraid. Kind of like how I was so scared to draw eyes for so long. Except that with eyes, at least I had the true excuse that it was a real phobia. Whereas hands are just...well...a pain in the ass. It was time to put in some real study.
So on New Year’s Eve, I grabbed a new sketchbook and started drawing hands. Well, actually, first I decided to trace a picture of a hand so I could understand the shape, THEN I tried to do an observational style. It did not go well if I’m being honest. After that first day, I closed the sketchbook and didn’t think about it for another two months. Which brings me to March. One day in the studio, I was looking at the stacks of sketchbooks on my desk and I saw the Hand Book on the bottom of the pile. “Oh yeah…” I thought to myself. “Guess I should try to stick with a resolution.” But instead of looking for another reference of something I would inevitably become frustrated with, I thought about just letting go of the rules for a second and try to have some fun instead.
Lately I’ve been really into creating patterns. It’s what I did for Inktober last year and it was both challenging but relaxing at the same time. So I took the same approach and started sketching some ridiculously warped hands in the sketchbook. When they looked monster-esque enough, I then went in with some acrylic paint and later some ink. The result? Things that...Kind of resemble hands, but also not at all. I had a blast!
While I think it’s necessary and valid to take time to study and practice so you develop a technique, I think it’s equally important to take a break from that and just let yourself explore. Just like everything, there’s a balance to achieve. If you are too hard on yourself, well, expect burn out...or worse, the desire to quit.
Since this little exercise, I have since attempted to draw one more “accure” hand (which turned out hideous, but I didn’t give up on it) and one more “weird hand” pattern. Can you guess which one I love more?
I think this a good lesson to carry with any aspiring artist, or even an already established artist. If you want to improve, I suggest playing with materials you are excited about. Designate a sketchbook or even just a stack of paper to whatever it is you want to study. But don’t forget to take breaks and warp it a bit. Learn these rules. Develop your technique. Go against it. And let your voice and style shine. I hope to one day fill this sketchbook with beautiful hands of all shapes and sizes.