Steps to hand printing

Three years ago in Glendale I saw an example of calligraphy executed in charcoal on an acrylic canvas. It fascinated me, and I wanted to know more about it, so I studied with a teacher of calligraphy. A friend suggested that I try calligraphy of fingerspelling, and I went to the library and researched Chinese calligraphy. I then experimented with various drawings of fingerspelling, using my hands as models. My instructor was amazed with my newest work and called it the pictorial language of the deaf. In the summer of 1972, in a life drawing class at California State University, Northridge, I became interested in the animation of fingerspelling and sign language. After drawing numerous pictures of hands I learned that the front view of a hand was the clearest, regardless of the media used. The movement of the hands as they progress from the formation of one letter to another really excited me and I concentrated on hands and hand movement only, becoming more and more fascinated with hands and sign language. Although I am deaf and use hands to communicate, I had not previously realized how important they are to the deaf as a means of communication above all. Continued exploration of hand movement in the process of signing led me to make the first animated film in American Sign Language, "Ameslan Animals," which proved to be very successful. My enthusiasm for animated films temporarily diverted me from painting; however, I eventually returned to calligraphy. Working with calligraphy I had used my hands as models, but it suddenly occurred to me that I could put paint on my hands and apply the paint directly to the canvas with my hands. Using this technique I made a repetitive pattern and overlapped it with different colors, still repeating. Andy Warhol uses the technique of repetition, but with silk screen rather than painting, and I researched his work and continued experimenting with my own hands. One of my best paintings, "Hands Are Beautiful," demonstrates the technique of repetition in acrylic on unprimed canvas, with four different colors overlapping. A painter begins with ideas, attempting to ''expose" himself on canvas. Sometimes a painting itself can become the source of inspiration for a painter. Although "The Green Image," painted in 1973, is a good painting, I was not satisfied with it and studied and analyzed it with my instructors. As a result, I began to try thicker paint and to mix colors in an attempt to create a three dimensional effect. This painting served as a catalyst for new paintings. (See more in text.)

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