Stay tuned; there are some drawings after all this text.
Though they aren’t usually the features you look at first in a portrait or any work of art, I have come to the conclusion that hands are some of the most important features of people in art. They indicate not only what the person is doing, but how he or she is feeling and even give a little insight on the character’s personality. Far-fetched? Maybe. Exaggerated? probably. Before you wave of my thoughts as the ramblings of a crazed artist, think about it for a moment.
If an artist wanted to draw a tough, old farmer, he or she would paint or otherwise create for the farmer a tan, muscular, wrinkled hand. A dainty princess would get a slightly relaxed hand, with long, slender fingers and her middle and ring fingers glued together. A child’s hand would be small, chubby and short, not to mention creeping toward the forbidden cookie jar. You can peek into emotions by drawing a tense hand, a limp hand, a clenched fist. Hands on hips mean attitude, hands on face mean despair, and hands on someone else’s throat mean frustration.
Despite all this, what do we do with hands? Hide them in mittens, pockets and behind backs. I am guilty of this myself. Don’t misunderstand me- there are instances in which these hiding places are appropriate (sheepishness or cold weather), but for the most part, hands must be seen!
I am well aware that “hands are literally the hardest things you could possibly set out to draw, except for, maybe, feet” (-Meredith Waugh). This is because of all the different directions fingers and thumbs can point. Hands are so maddeningly 3 dimensional that an artist must almost always use forced perspective* in drawing them.
I used to think that I could fix this problem by being really, really good, but that didn’t work. The only way to become good at anything at all (even drawing hands) is to work hard, repeatedly- stress on the word repeatedly. At long last, here are the sketches (the better ones. I wouldn’t post my horrible first attempts at hands) that sprouted out of my revelation.
*A technique in which the size of an object is exaggerated to show its distance from the viewer