Progress – Hand Atlas

I was hoping to have a chart-like presentation of different hand positions typically displayed by my autistic brother, ready for today’s post. However, I ran into some problems.

Stage 1 – latex masking fluid

Did you ever try drawing with a glob of liquid rubber at the end of a brush handle? It’s even harder than it sounds, especially when one is trying to draw small figures with details (like fingers).  What I had in mind was a dark field on which flesh-colored hands would be displayed in a grid-like format.

This is stage one, the latex rubber ‘drawings’ of hands on my watercolor paper:

Preliminary Stage, latex mask drawings of hands for hand atlas study

Stage 1 – Latex Mask Drawings of Hand Icons
9″x12″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

Each of the hands, or set of hands, was drawn from photographs of my older brother, my younger brother, my father or me.

I have spoken about abstract expressionism in past posts. Let me assure you that drawing with the butt end of a paint brush that drips with latex rubber, enables one to abstract an image with practically no effort. In fact, if I hadn’t told you that each element of the array of rubber globs was intended to represent a hand or set of hands, you would might have some trouble guessing what they are supposed to be.

Stage 2 – reverse silhouettes

After I washed the paper with black (Holbein Peach Black), I peeled off the latex resist. It was difficult for me to do a smooth wash (wet on dry) with the bumps of rubber in the way.

Now that I think of it, I would have been better off drawing with white chalk or gouache on black paper rather than painting the entire paper black but for a few white figures. The reminds me of a book I read years ago called A Canticle for Liebowitz. It takes place in the future, where much of the past has been forgotten. A sect of monks was tasked with copying blueprints, but instead of drawing the lines, they painted everything blue, except for the lines. Somehow that is all I remember from the book. “How silly?,” I thought; yet years later, I’m doing practically the same thing.

Here is stage 2, the reverse silhouettes of the hand figures:

reverse silhouettes of hands, revealed after latex masking removed

Stage 2 – Latex Masking Removed to Reveal Reverse Silhouettes of Hands
9″x12″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

I think I can make it look a little more reasonable in the final stage, where I can fill in some details and perhaps change the forms as needed. Note that I did not intend for the upper right hand figure to resemble a shadow on the wall made by a hand.

2 thoughts on “Progress – Hand Atlas

  1. There is a liquid mask that you can buy in a squeeze bottle that comes with an 18 gauge tip. Upon closing, the lid has a metal needle that slips down into the applicator so that it doesn’t become clogged. You can use the bottle/syringe for fine masking details. That might give you the control you were seeking. My bottle is called “Fineline, Masquepen, Standard Tip, 18 gauge/0.8mm.”

    Good luck with your explorations. It is very interesting to follow your experiments. Thank you for sharing.


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