Holding Hand

Holding hands is one way of showing intimacy… assuming the hands belong to different people. Holding one’s own hand can have other meanings; I don’t think that intimacy is one of them, however. That could be a good blog post, but not what I had in mind for today.

My older brother Mike is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. He doesn’t seem to like holding hands. But he doesn’t have a problem taking someone else’s hand and leading them to where he wants to go: a locked door perhaps, or the refrigerator. Sometimes I think that he sees hands of other people as tools for him to use to accomplish his own goals.

The photograph

I took the photograph below when my parents and I went to visit Mike at his group home. The major point of interest is the relationship between my father and Mike, as seen by their faces.

Mike and Dad sitting together, Dad is holding Mike's hand

A less obvious feature of this photograph is my father’s hand holding Mike’s hand. Mike’s hand seems relaxed, although it is in a semi-clenched pose. It could be that Mike’s hands are sensitive to the touch, or he just might not like holding hands.

Today’s watercolor sketch

I sketched my father’s hand holding Mike’s as shown in the photograph. The intimacy portrayed by image of the two hands complements the emotions I feel when I look at Dad’s and Mike’s faces. Each of them seems in a dream state. This is the miracle of photography: the frozen moment. I don’t remember how long they were in this position; it is highly likely that it wasn’t for too long. That Dad was able to hold Mike’s hand for as long as it took the camera shutter to blink indicates that Mike wasn’t fighting him, and was ok with the contact.

Dad's hand holding Mike's

Holding Hand
7″x9″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block

I’m not sure how much the watercolor image portrays if one didn’t know the backstory, or see the photograph from which it was excerpted. The relationship between the two hands is unusual; certainly not emblematic of intimacy. However there doesn’t seem to be any undue force between the two hands, as if the enveloping hand is warding off a blow. I don’t see anything to indicate that the outer hand exerting undue pressure on the inner hand.  The hands seem inert, motionless.

I don’t know what emotion if any, the viewer would feel upon viewing this sketch. Perhaps there is not enough information.

8 thoughts on “Holding Hand

  1. wow, I love this. I’m not really qualified to analyse art, but what a beautiful picture it has brought a tear to my eye, but you’re right, maybe because I had seen the photo first?. Your dad’s hand is guiding, and protective over your brothers clenched and anxious fist. lovely!


  2. I love how it is clear that one is an older hand and one is a younger hand. Like one of the commentors said, it suggests protection and guidance. There is gentleness conveyed in both hands.


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