Concepts- The idea that we are all uniquely different and the same connected by our own humanity. We all have hands but are individual creations of the Divine Creator. It also reminded me of the hand prints created by ancient artists who imprinted their hands on the wall of the cave. I found myself wondering why they felt moved to do that and in some way I was doing the same except on a canvas. The cave walls were their canvas and they were the first artists.
The idea of the painting actually came from a process that I did with my women’s group. We had been working with a book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, and finishing up with the last chapter. I am the facilitator of the art group and the theme in the chapter was Hands. I was inspired one morning when meditating, I saw a hand. I often receive my ideas during my meditations and receive imagery. At first I was going to have the women do a cast from their hands or even use a glove to make hand casts. But that was not practical with the time limit that I had. It was then while writing in my creative journal (which I keep for my creative ideas and process), that I had the inspiration to have the women draw their own hands like we did as children. They drew designs and painted them. They used the hands as a process for reflection and we shared the importance of our hands in our group.
The next day I had painted over a collage and it was on the easel. I decided to draw around my own hands and do individual designs on each one. I also wanted to have shapes made by connecting the hands.
It was not until the following day that the painting revealed itself to me. This often happens in my work. I started painting the designs on the hands, but did not like the painted effect. I did not want it to look like a painting but at the time did not know why.
I worked on the painting nonstop all day. It was one of those creative frenzies that I have had before in other artwork that I have done. I really did not know intellectually where the painting was going, but I trust my own process even when on an intellectual level I do not understand.
I kept painting and I worked until I had the revelation of a vision. I could even see a story the painting was telling. I saw a group of people huddled in a mountain. Something disastrous had happened to the earth. They were from different races and religions, male and female. They were consciously aware that they were dying. They reached out to each other because they had to touch even if it were just their hands and suddenly they were conscious of their last thought, “Why did it take us so long to get that we are really not separate. We are one…..”
When this revelation came, it frightened me because of its message and meaning, but I also knew it came through me and not from me and had to be created.
The last thing that I did in the painting to finish it, was to create a texture to represent a cave. I used joint compound, let it dry, painted stone color wash over that and then rubbed charcoal over the relief. When that was dry, I used an iridescent paint to represent the illumination of the dying people and the light of their united souls. When the painting was done, I looked at it and knew that it was saying what I wanted to say not to everyone and the name was a bit too real so I changed the title to “We are One Hand”.
Symbols- Hands and the design that the hands create both in the positive and negative shapes. I wanted contrasting symbols. Each hand was different in the repeating shapes of the hands in different positions on the canvas. The symbols on the hands represented different people, all different race, religion and gender. The emotion to begin with was a sense of unity being connected love. But as the painting revealed itself to me, the hands were desperately reaching out to each other and therefore the emotions changed to sadness, but also hope as well as connectedness and love, a very powerful emotion but also terrifying. The thought, “Are we too late?”
Have I accomplished what I wanted in the painting? Will I now try to sell it? Does art need to be a product or is it something that simply needs to be created?
The question I ask myself is what will future civilizations say about us if there is a future? Did the first artists who printed their hands on the cave walls consciously hope that someday the prints would be found by people in the future or were they simply fascinated by their own hand?