HAND Art & illustration

Why hands?

I was on a flight home from an art licensing convention in 2016, frustrated and disappointed that the artwork I exhibited didn't stand out from the endless images of lovely flowers, whimsical characters, and colorful patterns. Booth after booth, row after row of swirls, flowers, animals, vegetables, leaves, and letters that all began to blend together.

I wanted to tap into something unique and authentic - art that felt important to me and that would bring something new to the table. For some reason, on that flight from New York to Dallas, the elegant pencil sketches that Michelangelo, Dürer, and da Vinci did as studies for paintings popped into my head. I used to study those intently as a child.

As I started experimenting with sketching, hands were of particular interest to me. Many people think that hands are hard to draw, but they're not really. All it takes is letting go of what you know about hands, or think you know, and just drawing what you see.

As satisfying as drawing hands is, I thought to myself "You can't make a living drawing hands. It's such a small niche, and who wants a pair of hands on their dinner plate or bedspread?" Oh, the endless chatter that tries to talk us out of the thing that makes us stand out - apart from the crowd. Do I push on, or do I abandon this and go back to flowers and wine bottles? Those are pretty subjects and people "get" those.

I decided to push on and discovered that the more hands I drew, the more ideas came to me. The niche was expanding before my eyes. What seemed like such a small topic in the beginning began to flood my mind with ideas.

What I've discovered is that hands, like flowers, are fascinating and beautiful. They are a part of virtually everything we do, and yet they are invisible to us. They create, they comfort, they build, they "talk", and move through space - all in front of our faces and we barely notice them. My art attempts to bring your attention to the two things that make your world possible - hands.


Member: Colored Pencil Society of America, International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Joan Chamberlain

My earliest memory of art is the intense fascination I had for the way Michelangelo captured the flowing folds of a voluminous robe as it draped across a model's legs. How he coaxed the effect of supple fabric from a block of marble - cold, hard. rock - had me enthralled. That was the first indication I had that a blank slate could become something magnificent with the right tools, and in the right hands.

Like many artists, I have more ideas than time. That's the exquisite torture of art - the temptations of textures, tools, colors, shapes, stories - all begging for expression in a life that has a finite amount of time. That precious commodity, time, taunts all of us who create.

With time at my back, I create art daily. I take the inspiration I first felt studying the old masters and attempt to capture images that will inspire, inform, or delight. Hands are my tools and my subject matter. I find equal enjoyment working with pencil or paint, in large or small formats.

I recently retired from a 35-year career as a dentist. I was a pre-med major in college and often think the reason I switched to dentistry was the lure of all the nifty tools. Fortunately, art has plenty of nifty tools, too.