Monday, April 2, 2012

Faces Around the Globe

Average men, per country, via @9gag

This poster, which I call Faces Around The Globe, has captivated my imagination. I have long been fascinated by the human face.
  • The similarities are clearly unifying: are we not all part of one big human family? 
  • At the same time, the differences call out our individuality, our uniqueness. 
  • Somewhere in the middle, the attentive observer sees each person's family history and clan. 

My favorite book on the subject of the human face is Liggett, J. (1974) The human face. New York: Stein and Day.

I have drawn a lot of portraits and was especially prolific in my High School days. I won many awards, and was even invited to join the debate team to present a speech entitled "How to Draw a Face."  I used the model from a Winston cigarette advertisement as my subject, and created a portrait on stage in four phases. I tried to make it look so easy that anyone could do it, much like one of those Walter Foster Learn to Draw books.

What I learned is that everyone can draw, but not everyone wants to draw.  Everyone can see the differences in people's faces, but not everyone wants to bring those differences into their consciousness and translate them into a two-dimensional representation.

To draw a person's face, either as a caricature or a portrait, one must first study the subject and compare it with a kind of generic human face. How is the subject different in aspects such as symmetry and proportionality? What aspects of the subject's personality are expressed in the physical form of the face?

Who am I, that I was born 
In such a time and place 
And to such parents
And with this face?

Could I have been anyone else?
Could anyone else be me?
Genes set the shape of my face
Is my face my destiny?

H/T to AC who tweeted: