Drawing faces is one of the most frustrating and challenging lessons for students. I have taught it for many years and many different ways, and have experienced excitement, disappointment, determination and tears- sometimes all from one student in one lesson! Faces have emotion wrapped up in every line. They communicate feelings, status, likes and wants…
“Art is the child of nature in whom we trace the features of the mothers face.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The features of the face “manifest the condition of the sitter”… The lines slant in the direction of the feeling that is central to the subject.
“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
The greatest discovery I made as a teacher (or artist!) was the system if structuring the face for drawing … When placing a black line under the sketch paper students are able to see where features should be placed. Not where you would imagine in some cases!
These torn paper collages were amazing as a finished project but outrageously time consuming. They were completed over several months, over top of an enlarged copy of the school photos by senior students (ages 10-12).
“People felt themselves watching him even before they knew that there was anything different about him. His eyes made a person think that he heard things that no one else had ever heard, that he knew things no one had ever guessed before. He did not seem quite human.”
This modern/cubist interpretation of faces is a favourite of students, especially young ones… It is so much easier to experiment with something that isn’t supposed to look perfect.
“Devil and God – two sides of the same face.”
And of course, because it’s poetry month…
“To hear never-heard sounds,
To see never-seen colors and shapes,
To try to understand the imperceptible
Power pervading the world;
To fly and find pure ethereal substances
That are not of matter
But of that invisible soul pervading reality.
To hear another soul and to whisper to another soul;
To be a lantern in the darkness
Or an umbrella in a stormy day;
To feel much more than know.
To be the eyes of an eagle, slope of a mountain;
To be a wave understanding the influence of the moon;
To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves;
To be an insignificant pedestrian on the streets
Of crazy cities watching, watching, and watching.
To be a smile on the face of a woman
And shine in her memory
As a moment saved without planning.”
I wish you all the best in art and angles… Have some fun with faces! (Here is an important lesson from the classroom: not every face will be “pretty”, but every face will be beautiful – remember, the lines of the drawing manifest the condition of the sitter… )
The best drawings show the essentially human character of the subject. Go ahead, draw someone!