Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's in a Hand?

Lately I've been pushing myself to focus.  I love to paint, of that I am sure.  But in the process of establishing a career for myself as an artist I have to also think practically,  and focusing both the style and the content of my work is necessary.

What I love most about the creative process is starting with the unknown.

As I work through the process of finding a focus to my work in this moment I have several things to think about: materials, markmaking and style, palette and content.  The problem with my love for image making is that I love creating in many styles, many palettes and a full range of materials.  Content, for me, is an easier place to start.

Certain symbols show up over and over again.  I have spent years depicting hands.

I know I can count on nature,  animals, plants, and human figures (in particular eyes, hearts and HANDS) to provide me with plenty of symbolic meaning.  So much so that each one deserves its own thesis.  Let's take Hands....

If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush... what about a soul?

I can't take any credit here.  The hand is one of the most commonly symbolized parts of the human body.  According to Aristotle, the hand is the "tool of tools.  It can communicate more concisely and definitely more universally than our voice ever could.   Throughout the world hands hold meanings, both specific and general:  Hamsa hand, Milagro hand, Helping hand, Hand of power, Eye in Hand... a more universal and powerful symbol is hard to find.

Hands heal, they also carry, point, grip, release, shelter, wave, gesture and punch.  They can offer assistance and they can do great damage.  In my own musings over humanity and the natural world I often see the hand as a symbol of technology, the human impact on the natural world.  It is a part of nature that has severed itself from its source.  What good is a hand is severed from its body?  What good are we when severed from nature?  These questions present themselves as I work, and I work to understand the answers.

By working with a symbol over and over again I develop my own personal encyclopedia of meanings.

Despite its frequent use in art and culture, I choose the human hand as an important symbol in my work.  I know I will return to it again and again and it will continue to evolve in my visual vocabulary, because I now have a very personal relationship with the symbol and its meaning.  

What's in a hand?  A Universe of meaning.

All paintings and painted stones are available at Dawn Patel Art on etsy.  Prints and printed merchandise available at Dawn Patel Art on Society6.

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