Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Give Yourself a Hand!

The general reaction I get when I speak the words "self portrait" to budding creatives is one of panic.  There are many ways to create a self portrait, and one of my favorite ways is to use the outlines of your hands.  When I use my hands as a self portrait, I like to outline both the left and right hands - one on each facing page.  I like to use this method to explore contrasts and opposites such as, past/present, best qualities/worst qualities, etc.

I recently taught this method to my Creative Art Journaling class, and I completed a few pages myself.  The first "opposites" spread I did was "Physical Me" and "Spiritual Me".  Here's the left page, "Physical Me".  I used colors that portray my color emotions as discovered in my monochromatic color spreads.  As the page developed, I was a little surprised to realize just how much of my physical life has revolved around loosing weight.  The spiral surrounding my hand says it all.

"Spiritual Me" is full of color and energy.  My golden fingertips and area on the palm represent the power of the Creator within me and my quest to come in contact with that power.  I used lots of squiggly lines to get the feeling of movement and electricity and the color purple surrounds my hand as the color that best represents spirituality to me.  I also used adhesive backed, metallic papers to add more energy and to make the page feel more special.

The second set of pages I completed were "Happy Me" and "Sad Me".  "Happy Me" was a blast to complete.  There are so many things that make me happy and joyful.  The colors reflect my happiness, and of course, art is at the center of my being.

"Sad Me" was a difficult page to create.  I thought about feeling sad and what it looks like to me.  I thought about how feeling sad literally feels as if it's draining the life out of me, and that prompted me to place my hand  facing downward.  

I thought about the things that make me sad, like bigotry, prejudice, negativity, egotism and DRAMA.  I contemplated the fact that these are things that are thought based, and it led me to contemplate the things that I sometimes think about that make me sad.

I thought about the things that happened in the past and continue to resurface from time to time. . . 

And I thought about how deeply we try to bury old wounds.  Buried beneath layers, they seem to lay in wait like toxic chemicals.

I think we all have little areas of "toxic thoughts" that try to leak out from their confined areas and wrap us in sadness.  I think the great part of realizing this is that the acknowledgment that they exist give them less power.  That's my theory anyway, and that's how this mini book with fold-out pages came to live in the palm of my hand.

I hope this post inspires you to do a self portrait.  Self assessment is a great tool in personal growth, and using your hands as a catalyst isn't near as frightening a prospect as looking in a mirror!  "Celebrate YOU, love YOU, and Create a wonderful day!"


July 4th Fireworks, Mentor, Ohio


  1. Angelina!

    What a great idea, to use the hand for self portrait. (We could use our feet too!) I very much appreciate your generosity in posting your inner process. Thank you for the inspirations!!! ♥

  2. Angelia; I LOVE this technique. I actually used it on the very first Art Journal page I ever did. I drew an outline of one of my hands and then I cut up a whole bunch of pictures of myself in my early 20's. The page was on Vanity and how I was so vain back then. It was a very healing page for me.
    I have used this technique many times and I love it! I remember I did it once to describe me now and one to describe me then.
    I really love how you explored yourself through so many different things like 'happy/sad' 'physical/spiritual'... there are just so many things you can do with this technique!
    Big hugs to you my dear sweet Angelia!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me! It's a pleasure sharing the creative world of art journaling with you. I love hearing from you, so comments and questions are always welcome.

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