Sunday, August 9, 2015

Face Painting

I've made it a goal to get better at painting faces. I'm pretty confident with my sketching... but painting faces is still a challenge. I purchased the book Mixed Media Portraits by Pam Carriker.  It's a template approach to painting the face. I think I resist it because it's like math and divides the head into thirds and halves and such.  The template approach has been helpful at looking at painting the face from different angles. It's a great book and I've tried the technique but I seem to just go back to looking. Looking at photos or real people and just painting them that way.

This was a self portrait painted from a sketch that I did from a photo of Alex and I.

I really like doing self portraits. Frida Kahlo says, "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best." It is always a way to learn something about myself.

This is a sketch I did of a friend. It captures her a little. I never really know exactly what expression is going to come. It's hard to nail an expression. They are so subtle. I can get the eyes and the nose and the mouth in the right place and shade and blend away and then the expression is there in the eyes and mouth but I don't really know how it got there. I am determined to get better at this.

I sketch a lot on airplanes. Usually from the airline magazine. It is great fun. I pick photos that look hard to draw and then draw them. I like to just fill up the pages of my sketchbook with random images and then perhaps later go back and pull out pieces to use in painting.

And here is a face I painted recently. Again, the expression is a mystery to me. She seems like she's pursing her lips a bit.. but when I tried to change it I couldn't. Sometimes they just want to be what they want to be. For now at least.

Recently I got another book called The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expressions by Gary Faigin. I'm not giving up. I found out in the first few pages that Leonardo Da Vinci, when painting the Mona Lisa, had jugglers come and perform for his model to get that enigmatic smile. This book has been great, I'm not finished but I've already learned a lot. He quotes Leon Battista Alberti and his 1435 handbook on painting saying, "...who would ever believe who has not tried it how difficult it is to attempt to paint a laughing face, only to have it elude you so you make it more weeping than happy?" I can relate.

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