Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Bright Instruments of Our Will

Since I was very young, people’s hands exerted an immense appeal on my imagination.  How many paintings have I done using my hands as models?  All the innumerable pen-and-ink drawings that I made of hands? I cannot count, but the number is great.  I incorporate little bronze hands in my jewelry and there are quite a few hands on the walls around my house: a collection from other artists who also revered hands.

It is not only a fascination but also an awareness of all the roles hands play in our lives.  Not only are they so very useful at the end of our arms, but they seem to symbolize the ability to create, to grab, to caress, to gesture, to feel, to touch, to heal and to manipulate.  The list is enormous.

As an artist, my hands are my main approach to life.  With my hands I paint, I draw, I make the necklaces that will grace someone’s neck, in a few words, I create.  All with my hands. I have seen some paintings made by artists who had no use of their hands and with a brush lodged perilously in their mouth, they paint.  Imagine…the huge effort, the pain, for what is so simple when we have our extremities.

I look at my hands weathered by years of living and now showing a few veins, skin a bit loose on the bones and yet, I am so thankful.  I get such an exuberant joy out of working with my hands.  A good deal of my soul is flowing from them to the piece I am doing.  And many people notice.  Sometimes I look at my fingers and they seem foreign to me, more like very competent tools, the infinite potential for a mute pleasure that seems to engulf me as I use them to render my moods.

Our hands play a momentous role in touching another’s skin, in running them around the curve of a lover’s back, in moving through a mop of hair.  Our hands ignite passion or tenderness, healing and discovery; our hands say our welcome and spell our goodbyes.  With our hands, we feel, and people move into our lives or are left aside and forgotten according to what the handshake tells us.

We give our hands in marriage; the blind touch our face to feel. I am thankful to live in America instead of being under a dictator who rules with an iron hand.   Of course, unfortunately, hands also do their share of hurt.  They can harass or terrorize, torture with utmost dexterity.  They can kill.  They destroy, they rob us of breath, of life, of our humanity;  but they also bury what had been alive and through a companion, shake us awake at times to witness the stars in the night or the rosy light of dawn as we face the new day.

With my hands, I can write on your walls the many words that unite us both.  Or draw my signature.   Or signal a common road where we will discover together.  Or clasp them in reverence like I learned to do in southeast Asia.

Lets us lay our hands in front of us now.  Let us look at them, let us give them thanks at last for being the expressive part of the body that we inhabit and which allow us do so much each day without too much effort … as if they were the bright instruments of our will.

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre


  1. Wonderful recognition of that which I sometimes take for granted; until, like recently, I hurt one of my fingers and had to get a few stitches in it. And I become super conscious, and appreciative.

    Yes,hands are, well, handy! And I sure would not like to have to push my shutter release button on my camera with my nose.

  2. Merci Michou ton texte sur les mains est tellement sensible , reel et si bien decrit no more can be said, Bravo


    Your text on the hands is so sensible, real and and so well described, no more can be said.
    Nounette ( Micheline's translation)

  3. Dear Micheline,
    All that has been said about hands is true. Ours hands are the ultimate communicator from our body. Like you, I receive enormous pleasure from using my hands to create--to LIVE! Just recently I used my hands to plant a huge spring garden of tomatoes, peppers, onions, squashes, eggplant, and strawberries. In the front of the house I lined the already blooming rose bushes with deep blue lobelia.

    But, there is a snag. Humans need their eyes to use their hands to create effectively. I don't have full use of my eyes and alas I cannot design and sew right now. I long to feel the touch of fabric textures as they are pushed through the sewing machine. I miss the ability to thread a needle that blooms a garden on a jacket in appliques. A part of me is missing.

    Today I meet with a retina specialist to see if a third eye operation is necessary. Please send your good wishes up into the Universe. I am extremely grateful for your intervention on my behalf. I am still hopeful that my eyesight will return--and that my hands will continue to flourish in future projects.

  4. Dear Micheline,
    Our hands are indeed precious and even more when you loose part of their dexterity to arthritis. It's also sad when you see the deformities that comes with arthritis, some days it makes you feel old.
    But even with pain I found a way to create something with them, it's imperative, because it's part of who you are when you create.
    So I make a wish for you today, that you will always have the use of your hands so that you can continue in your creative way, always!
    Micheline, in LC

  5. I read your essay on hands and creativity as well as your memories of
    Mimi. Both so wonderfully written.
    Margary chamy

  6. Lovely writing about something we often take for granted. I am mildly interested in what might hold true for other parts of our bodies.

  7. Hello Micheline,
    Thank you for your beautiful words, I finally had a chance to read them this morning and it was worth the wait. My hands are now paying the price of years of over work, I talk with them now thanking them for years of service hoping I can still get many more years out of them. And my cat also a big red tabby I give him a rub and kiss thankful he is still with me but too wish him to pass on his own perhaps he will be the hunted one day. And I had a princess outfit but didn't care for it much I can still remember the picture we took of me so we could send it back to the person whom sent the dress. Thank you, you brought me to tears, memories and smiles all in 10 minutes time.
    Heidi Kummli

  8. It is so much fun to respond to your blog entries. Since we have more than
    a few things in common, your subjects are usually on my mind as well. All
    works together for good.
    Linda Ramsey