My hands are tools as I paint

Some people could eat a 4 course meal with only a fork, and not have a drop of food on them. Or cook Christmas dinner for 10 and emerge from the kitchen looking pristine. Me? I can’t eat, or cook, without spilling, dripping or slopping. It’s not that I’m clumsy as such, just – I don’t know – a bit uncoordinated I guess.

And when I paint? Yes, the same thing applies really. They say a picture paints a thousand words; in which case my clothes, and hands, tell quite a long story. I have tools – brushes, scrapers, knives – and paper towels, rags, wet wipes etc. Yet, somehow, I always end up with paint on my clothes and on my hands. The food mess may well be lack of coordination, but (forgetting the clothes for a moment) I think the paint on my hands is really about something else.

I am one of those people who likes to touch things. I’m a librarian by day; I touch the books, I touch my customers – sometimes I hug them if they need it – I touch my scrapbook pages, my pets, my mother, flowers, the hand of people who serve me in shops.

And I like to touch what I paint. I pick the small canvas up and hold them in my hand as I paint. I pick up the tubes and bottles of paint and feel the weight of them and, of course, I touch the wet paint! Not deliberately, but then again, perhaps really it *is* deliberate? Perhaps for me part of the process of painting is feeling my way through the layers of paint and glazes and marks. Feeling what is right, what needs changing…

I think that for me painting is not just about the image, the colours, the texture – it’s about the feel of the process, and the feel of the finished work. And that’s why my hands tell a story – because for me painting is as much a tactile pursuit as a visual one. How about you?


2 thoughts on “My hands are tools as I paint

  1. Me too. Never could get used to gloves. I know these things are supposed to be at least slightly toxic. I try to get them scrubbed off before I eat anything. It’s not unusual that somebody at the grocery store will inform me I have paint in my hair.


  2. Oh…my hands get into everything!!!
    I have to really watch myself when I go to galleries and such…I sooooo want to touch!
    I use my hands often in my painting…I figure acrylic is ok and hopefully not going to harm me?
    Years ago, when I was studying photographic arts, I used my hands in all the chemicals – I can’t stand gloves (may hands get claustrophobic!)…but that really wasn’t good for me, although safety with such things wasn’t stressed as much as it is these days!

    I ended up at your blog today (I forget how now) and have referred to your blog in mine bacause of that wonderful Jonas Gerard video you posted!



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