It wasn’t supposed to be any good. The painting. It was set up to fail.
But it didn’t.
This painting was begun as a way to pass the time while another watercolor was drying. That other piece was a large picture of a branch with these little papery seed pods on it. It was taking forever. To pass the time, I looked around for something else to do.
I really *wanted* to do another self-portrait; to try once more to finish a piece where I *don’t* look like I’m trying to move a house down the street with my mind. But one gets a little tired of hearing, “another picture of yourself?” and, “well SOMEone likes his own company…” Looking around the room for something else to paint, nothing seemed all that appealing. Microwave? Someone else’s painting? That ratty, old, orange chair? Again?
I settled for my hand.
Still, it shouldn’t have been anything more than a quick exercise. A doodle. A school assignment for someone who is home-schooling himself… in art… at a studio… not at home. Moving on… The evidence of low expectations is in the partially-finished version below:
That smear of yellow paint in the background? It was already there. This piece of paper was just a leftover scrap of a previously aborted painting. It wasn’t meant to be any good. It wasn’t meant for anything.
For this picture, I really wanted to take a close look at the anatomy of the hand. I needed to give the hand something to do, so I did what comes naturally; what I was already doing: holding a mug of coffee.
The slightly elongated ellipse of the mug opening is actually accurate. It’s due to the way the mug is being tilted forward, as though preparing for a sip. It’s also quite full of coffee.
I like how chunky and full-bodied the hand is, and the naturalness of the colors. There are some nice vein-y things going on in the wrist. My absolute favorite part, though, is the tip of the ring finger, just under the handle, and the little sliver of nail peeking out from the warm shadow.
As it turned out, the other piece I had been working on was such a dead end that it had to be abandoned. You can’t win them all.
UPDATE: 12/3/2012 – This painting sold during a one-day holiday event at my studio building over the weekend.