Last Spring when I was visiting the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I spent a long time staring at some studies of hands by John Singer Sargent. Probably these, which I found online:
I felt as if I had never really seen hands before. Thus inspired, at the following Saturday life drawing session, I produced the best hands of my life. See above for the best example.
Sorry to say, that insight seemed to fade over the intervening months, but confident that it must be still in my brain somewhere, I have redoubled my efforts to draw good hands. Just this last Tuesday, I began to reconnect with the Sargent inspiration. Before judging my newest hands, remember that I am drawing studies of a whole figure, not just the hands, in only twenty, thirty or forty minutes. My hands are sketchier than Sargent’s.
Above is where I started in September, when the Saturday Life Group reconvened after the summer break. Servicable hand, but not as wonderful as the Sargent hands. I hope you agree that Tuesday’s hands (20, 20, 40, 30 minutes, in that order) are improvements:
The most helpful points that I take from the Sargent studies are (1) the fingers and the knuckles are considerably distant from one another, and (2) the fingers are not wedded together but have a space analogous to webbing at their base.
Facts are good things to acquire, but when it comes right down to producing a drawing, you are supposed to reproduce what you see, not what you know is there. So, like everything else worth doing in life, it’s complicated.