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October 13, 2005 I've since added an outline to the hands to bring them out from the background.

The picture is almost done, there are just a few touchups left for me to do. This is probably the last time I'll update the works in progress page with photos from this particular work. If you want to see the final product, check my main page in a few weeks.

October 12, 2005 More hand images. I found this one at Maura Edmund's gallery.

I found this image at the Blue Key website, which also has tattoos and music.


October 10, 2005 Having finished with the pencil, I am now starting the painting process. I am on the home stretch with this one - not much is going to change from here on in.

Close up view of the background.

October 9, 2005 Deciding on the colours has been tough. Originally I thought black and white would be ideal, but with this particular picture that would be too easy and I want more of a challenge. Decided to go with greys, black, and white, fooling around with the contrast between these colours. Also, I've added a background to help bring out the reaching hand and give it more spirit and energy, and also to give space for the greys to play against each other.


October 7, 2005 Some interesting comments from readers on the Struggle. The first:

Just a thought about "the struggle" (or not, as the case may be). In the original meaning of the painting the "physics" of the image work well: pulling down, hindering, struggle etc are congruous with one hand striving for the lofty hights while the other envious/jealous ones (an allegory for social constraints?) try to prevent it from reaching its goal. However, in the opposite -more positive- interpretation of all other hands helping the one reach the top, the physics don't work so well: I get the impression that you'd have to pull the arm off its socket to get it to reach any further... and this leads me to think that the progress your main hand can make is rather limited (perhaps an allegory of human limits?), and we are back -in a roundabout way- to the negative interpretation of the painting. - G

A second reader told me the hands reminded her of something she'd seen on a visit to Spain called a castell. Castell building is a Catalan tradition that involves the art of erecting human pyramids, the picture at the top right being an example. These pyramids can be made up of as many as 50 people, reach the height of a small appartment building, and weigh as much as 2000 pounds! This page explains castells more clearly.

I was advised by the reader to look at the hands that make up the bottom level of the castell. Don't these look like the hands in the Struggle? Grasping hands, but in the pursuit of human achievement, and not a symbol of human frailty.

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The most interesting thing (to me) about these comments - which range from the negative to the positive and back to the negative - is how they show the openness of a picture to any given interpretation. I do part of the work, but the viewer does the rest. Also, this being the first time I've written down in words my own creative process, I'm surprised to learn how drastically my own feelings change as I work on a painting and learn from it.

October 6, 2005 Began the final draft by transferring the hands picture from the sketch book into my art pad. After some time with this picture, I'm beginning to think I shouldn't call it The Struggle. The hands could be holding and supporting each other, not necessarily fighting and pulling each other down. Why bother labelling it? Let the viewer decide.

The hands are now much more realistic since I modelled them off mine holding a bottle to mimic grasping from various angles. Yet another application for the beer bottle.

note: don't drink and draw.

October 5, 2005 Did some googling for other hand images and paintings. I found the page of an artist named Fernando Casas, who has done a number of hand paintings. I liked this one the best. Check out his work - some of it reminds me of M.C. Escher


October 4, 2005 The hands picture became project numero uno today - its currently better than all my other back burner ideas and fits my mood.

Tonight I transcribed the initial idea from the note card into my sketch book to get a better feel for it. The hands come from my imagination, though sometimes I have to look at my own to get the anatomy right. Damn, must remember to cut fingernails. The main reaching hand has changed position from the original idea above - I think this looks more poignant. Now has a title - The Struggle.

Should I make the main hand resemble one of these famous ones, or am I already doing this without really noticing?

October 3, 2005. Today I came up with the idea of drawing a hand reaching to the sky. A second hand grabs at the first, pulling it down, and a third grabs at the second, a fourth at the third etc. By the end, a swarm of hands will be intersecting and writhing like spaghetthi, all holding each other down. I like the idea. Here's the initial rough on a note card.

(Beginning to remind me of this one.)


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