So I’m reading this book, right? I’m reading along, and over this passage:
“He looked at his hands. They were large, strong–and yet unweathered, as sensitive and delicate as an artist’s hands.”
Now, when I read a book, I read right through, stopping only at chapter ends or when exhaustion overtakes me. But this time, this little passage caused me to stop in my tracks. I set down the book, and took a good look at my hands (which I recommend, I mean, how often do you look at your hands?)
I guess, with all the arting I do, that makes me an artist. But unweathered? Delicate? I don’t think I’d ever use these words to describe my hands, even though I *know* they’ve been used to describe the hands of an artist, in more cases than just this book.
My hands are used hands. They’re rough, calloused, and dry. They’ve born hundreds of nicks and cuts, burns from exploding glass or carelessly plucking up heated tools. In spite of all my caution, they’ve been saturated, I’m sure, in oil paints and mineral spirits and other nasty chemicals you really don’t want seeping into your body. They’re often tired things, frequently dirty–especially after arting–and hurt (again, especially after arting). I really should take better care of them…
…but that’s not really the point, I think. Who got the crazy idea that an artist’s hands are “delicate?” Or maybe I’m just thinking of “delicate” in the wrong way. I guess many artists have a delicate sense of control with their hands, especially with a large painting, or with throwing a vessel, or even handling glass. I guess that’s accurate, but I’m not sure if that’s the definition the author had in mind.
It brings up somewhat of an art major stereotype which people have conveyed to me: the artist who wanders fashionably about and engages in deep, philosophical, “arty” conversations, and who create art on dramatic inspiration and this and that.
Art majors aren’t like that! At least, here they’re not (well, Emil has that “arty” sense about him, but still). Sure, it’s not terribly hard to spot an art major on campus…they’re the ones who are constantly covered from head to toe in filth–paint, charcoal, clay, general art barn scum. They are tired people, who generally work too hard, and don’t linger every waking moment in the studio for their image of an “artist,” but because the physical work necessary in churning out their art requires them to do so. They are often exhausted and broken, and tend to neglect themselves, and are worn from pumping so much of themselves into physical objects.
Of course, this could just be me. Perhaps my view is skewed? Any input? I know you Centre people read my journal! You’ve told me, so comment! Comment I tell you! Tell me if i’m right about this.