Much Ado about Hands


I remember a kid from college who kept saying he used to draw cartoons but stopped because he “couldn’t draw hands.” In an effort to dispel that thinking, I told him what an art teacher told me: Gary Larson, creator of the beloved “far Side” strip couldn’t draw hands either. He was right. Mr. Larson’s hands were very palm-tree like, but it didn’t stop him from bringing his humor to life, and it paid off.

Edward Linley Sambourne, victorian era cartoonist for Punch Magazine had a greater challenge: he couldn’t draw human figures in specific poses. He elevated this by obtaining friends, family (and prostitutes) to pose in his studio. From this strategy, he created some of the magazine’s best cartoons.

An artist always finds a way around a perceived flaw.

My ability to draw hands has since improved (though I do have my “palm tree” moments), but I don’t think I would have gotten that far without the information from my teacher. God, I wish I remembered his name.

Unfortunately, my co-ed couldn’t see that. I remember when I completed my advice, he gave me the coldest glare I had ever seen. What had upset him? Did my story trigger an unpleasant memory? Or did I hit him where it hurt emotionally. It should take more than the simple inability to “draw hands” to stop someone from enjoying their passion. Oh well. I wish him luck with what ever life choices he’s settled for.


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