Hands by Michael Arthur

Last night, I got a couple of last minute tickets to see Lynda Barry and Matt Groening speak at BAM. They're an accomplished pair, with an almost life long friendship that resembles a marriage but isn't. The night before, I had been talking in a bar with Loser's Lounge leader Joe McGinty about my admiration for long friendships between creative people--Groening and Barry's deep acceptance, obvious frustrations and absolute adoration of each other is about as inspiring an example of creative lives lived separately and together as you're likely to find.

In addition to her accomplishments as a cartoonist, Barry works as a professor of creativity at the University of Madison, Wisconsin and--although they both spoke of the challenges and histories of their creative endeavors--I found myself particularly moved by her assertion that the hand is leader to the creative act. In Barry's estimation, drawing is simply the follow through of a curious hand and a childlike acceptance of truths revealed. I had never thought about it in these terms, but it's a notion that sits well with me.

When I got home after the talk, I showed Laura a breathtaking video Barry shared--a YouTube clip of a baby discovering its hand. "I like to think that the hand is discovering the child too," a delighted Barry had said. Laura went to bed then--our baby, Alden, was already sleeping--so  I went in to the other room, made myself some tea and pulled out my sketchbook, reminded again that drawing is really just allowing the lines to be what they will.