Hands as Funnel?

Today’s watercolor experiment:


Yesterday I was thinking about making the hands I paint more abstract. I started today with two Payne gray brushstrokes. The first one (on the left) was spot on. It had just the contour I wanted. The second one was a bit off, but not terribly.

As with yesterday’s study, I incorporated yellow ochre as the companion for the gray to complete the hands.

The abstract hand shapes reminded me of a gesture of wonder, a “what is this?” kind of question. I remember I used to get feelings like that when I looked at the evening or night sky. This prompted me to put some kind of sky above the hands. I placed a wash of lemon yellow above the hands and Winsor red above the yellow. The merged. There was a bit of a flaw in the watercolor paper: a horizontal crease or dent. I incorporated it into my design by painting one of the blue streaks into it.

Watercolor: Hands and Sky

Hands – Stage 1

 Stage 2:

The image above did not seem complete. The space between the hands suggested a funnel, which inspired the idea of gray clouds being drawn down through the aperture. Perhaps the metaphor in the back of my mind was ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, and I wanted to show it being sucked away.

I flooded the space above the hands with water, being very careful to keep the border of the hands dry, and continuing through the aperture to the space below the hands. I floated Payne’s gray pigment on this lake and watched it as it flowed through the hands, just as I wanted.  I tried manipulating the gray that seeped under the hands to show a billowing rebound.

watercolor: Abstract - Hands as Funnel

Drain or Spout
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I did not succeed in achieving the effect I wanted at the bottom of the composition. The outline of the ‘billows’ are too well defined to be water vapor from a cloud. However, one might easily imagine the gray above the funnel as water vapor.

Unintended consequences

I was shocked when I looked at this composition differently than the way I conceived it. Instead of seeing the vapor being sucked down the funnel, I saw it being blown through the aperture between the hands by someone with Dizzie Gillespie-esque cheeks.

There are other ways of looking at it as well.

I’m glad I continued to paint past stage 1. I hope you are too.

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