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The Importance of Working With Your Hands

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

Sculpting in clay, perhaps more than any other art form, involves using your hands in the creation of art. From early childhood, most of us have had some experience molding something with clay, sand, snow, mud, play-dough, or plasticine. There is an expressive language inside us that is allowed to speak when we use our hands to depict a visual idea or form.

The hands are an extension of the mind and what they make reveals something of the maker. Handwriting analysis by experts is a phenomenally accurate window into a person's personality and character. These experts are often drawn in by justice officials as testimony in criminal cases. To these experts there is no way a person can disguise his true nature in his handwriting. We always give ourselves away, no matter how hard we try to disguise a trait that we are not proud of. Even if we succeed in one way, we will let it slip in another place.

I listened to medical doctor recently talk about dissecting human hands, which he had found to be a more profoundly moving experience than dissecting the face. There are an exceptional number of nerve endings in the hands and this reflects their important function in our life.

Our hands are used very much in communication: we wave a greeting or farewell, we shake hands, we gesture as we speak to accentuate a point. We give a loving caress, we slap a face, we make a fist: all communicate feelings. Social dance patterns usually have hand movements that add flair and style to the dance routines and make them beautiful. Deaf people depend on sign language of the hands to communicate..

Sometimes when I teach sculpting classes, beginners claim they do not have talent. I always respond by saying that we can all run. However, by running a lot an athlete improves. We too can improve in sculpting; the harder we try and the more we do it, the further we go. Art teachers always tell their students just to continue drawing, painting, or sculpting and the skill will grow. Of course, if you merely repeat one style over and over, you may not evolve very much, but if you