The Tale of Missing Hands, Art Critics, and Perfectionism

Hello my art friends!

I hope you’re all getting ready for a fabulous holiday season.

I just returned from visiting my family and celebrating an early Christmas with them. It was so much fun. My favorite things were having a dance party with one of my nieces and watching my other niece do a beautiful drawing with the new markers and sketchpad I gifted her. 

She was so nervous to show me her drawing for fear of disapproval. Isn’t that so sad? Oh, how the rejection and fear of rejection for artists can start so early and sometimes continue for the rest of your life. I know it all too well and it breaks my heart to see it in others.

But when she showed me her drawing I was blown away by how good she did. I gave her a high five and told her how impressed I was with it. I said, “WOW! You’re so good! That’s beautiful.” (And I really was impressed). 

She beamed with pride and joy! Interestingly, she then proceeded to tell me all the difficulties she had in the drawing process and what didn’t turn out well. She said that the hands were really hard to draw and so she hid them mostly in shadow. This girl is like ten or eleven years old! To which I replied that hands have always given artists trouble and even the best of the best would often hide at least one hand under a blanket or veiled in shadow. This seemed to relieve her only a little bit. It’s amazing how early this perfectionism and fear of doing it wrong and getting criticized shows up for artists. It’s taken me years to move past it myself and I finally feel free of it.

Funnily enough, when I traveled back to Dallas to visit the museums before flying home to Denver I saw many examples of the hidden hands! I was also shocked when reading the art history information cards next to the paintings at how many of these AMAZING artists that we revere today were criticized during their time. 

Apparently, Turner was thought to be mentally ill because he decided to paint on square canvases. Mentally ill y’all!!! WTF! These paintings were gorgeous too! Then several paintings said that collectors sent them back or refused them saying they weren’t finished and too indistinct. 

William Merritt Chase (one of my all time favorite artists) did this sketch to prove to a woman on a train that he was an artist because she said that “He didn’t LOOK like an artist”! How many times have I heard that one? You can’t possibly be an artist because you dress nice and look normal. 

Tarbell’s beautiful works were mocked for being pretty-pretty and formulaic. They even nicknamed his students Tarbellites. What the hell?! The man made amazingly gorgeous paintings. Where’s the fault in that? Let me tell you what this art world can be a harsh place and apparently has been for centuries. It’s all a little too high school for me. Who’s popular and in the cool kids club and who’s not…. Well, I’m not interested. 

Luckily neither were these artists. They didn’t let perfectionism, criticism, juvenile name-calling, trend, or popularity contests deter them from creating their beautiful works. And I’m SO GLAD they didn’t! They inspire me (and I hope you too) to follow in their footsteps and do the same. Come hell or highwater (either from myself or others), I’ll keep painting because that’s what I was born to do. 

So more to come next week on my museum findings, but for now, enjoy these criticized beauties and the hidden hands! Can you find the hidden hands?

Finally, the great John Singer Sargent hiding a hand without shame! 

Also, why do hands look so much better without the thumbs? 

P.S.  A HUGE THANK YOU for all who have purchased a painting this month!! I’m feverishly preparing your packages to ship out to you this week. I’m so honored and grateful for your support of my work. It means the world to me! I couldn’t do this without my collectors. I’m proud to bring you museum quality work at an affordable price! 

Congratulations to the winners of this week’s giveaway. If you haven’t entered then join my Collector’s Circle email list here: for a free chance to win next Wednesday!

Winners will be announced via my email newsletter next week. 

Love in Light, Kelli

2 thoughts on “The Tale of Missing Hands, Art Critics, and Perfectionism

  1. My late grandmother, who was a classically trained professional artist, said the hands are the most difficult part of the body for an artist.

  2. I’ve heard that’s where the term “costs an arm and a leg” came from…. Not sure if it’s true but supposedly an artist would charge more if they had to include arms (with hands obviously) or legs (with feet, also difficult). It makes sense! 🙂

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