One of the early exercises in “Let’s Face It” is to look back at some of the face sketches, drawings or paintings that we created early on in our creative journey. It’s a great exercise to remind us of where we started and where we’re going. It will also help us see our progress throughout the course this year.
So I thought it might be amusing to share with you some of my early face drawings and paintings. It’s okay to laugh or cringe at some of these faces. I do the same thing when I look at them.
Turn on the Way Back Machine, Mr. Peabody
These drawings were created about 6 years ago. I was dealing with some health issues and used art to work through that process. This was my self-portrait. The question mark represented not knowing what would come next in this situation.
I hated drawing noses and almost always placed the eyes too high on the head.
Ironically, I made sculptural pieces, my Spirit Messengers and Ornimals, for several years. But many of those pieces had heads/faces that were imaginative and not all were based on humans.
Now it is 2013. I’m taking a non-art related class though we are creating mandalas or other forms of expression in response to readings. Here I decided to create my first “portraits” in many years.
I notice how much I enjoyed creating these pieces. Not anywhere near “perfect” but it reminds me how much I like drawing and painting.
As time progresses, I stop making sculptural pieces and turn my focus to sketching, drawing and painting. I start finding sources with instruction and guidance on drawing faces. (Waaaay too many resources, in fact.)
However, that doesn’t mean lady confidence emerges and my paintings of faces magically appear on the canvas. Hardly.
In these two paintings from 2014, I found myself quite afraid to paint eyes and noses. Again. Instead of taking the risk that I might completely mess up the faces, I found it easier to give the appearance of eyes (or eyelids). That perfectionist voice inside, the one who says “You should know how to do this” appeared to win this round.
Finally, in 2015, my love of drawing faces and the desire to put in the effort to improve my skill comes full circle. I buy Pam Carricker’s book, “Mixed Media Portraits. I sign up for online classes. I’m invited to participate in a sketching group.
Now the practice begins to pay off.
Where is this leading?
Even though I took art classes during all four years in high school and had a basic knowledge of how to draw a face, I found that it was easier to avoid drawing or painting a face at all costs. Perhaps it was some old memory of being told I “couldn’t” draw that kept me from creating faces. Or old lady perfection who was more worried about screwing up the facial features instead of just playing and experimenting.
What I can say is that if you also love to draw faces, then by all means, draw those faces. There are many resources out there with tips and tricks to get you started. Yes, practice is important, whether it’s every day or a few times a week.
It’s also important, I think, that you try really hard to get past the worry that the face you’re drawing won’t look like whomever. I told myself early on that I wasn’t going for perfect portraiture. I’m developing my own style and you should too. Make your face drawings whimsical. Make them caricatures. Give them green hair and purple eyes. Have fun with it.
In both the “Let’s Face It” class and “Drawn to Expression” I’m feeling better about interpreting the faces in a way that fits my style. Whatever that style is at this time. Finding a “style” or “expression” doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. It takes practice (which, for practice sake, might include copying). It takes having an open mind and a willingness to play and experiment. It’s an ongoing learning process.