Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Drawing and Painting Faces

I don't know if any of you know this, but up until January 2009, I NEVER drew or painted people. I had this fear of rendering faces and didn't think I could do it. For me, drawing of painting the human face was the hardest thing imaginable to do art-wise. Creating a face is easy enough, but to create one that captures the expression and likeness of the person you are drawing or painting is really hard. I had avoided it up until last year when I decided I needed a challenge.

I had been doing, what I considered, "decorative art" at this point. It was pretty and technically good, but it didn't speak to me. There was no message other than "look how pretty this is" and if anyone asked me what my paintings "meant", I couldn't tell them because I didn't know. I was just "doing" art without emotion or thought. I was drawing leaves and birds and layering these images between layers of wax. I did other pieces using photo transfers and other pretty cool encaustic techniques too, but it wasn't satisfying to me because it felt more like I was collaging rather than painting. I wasn't challenging myself or grappling with anything that need to be solved. Now that's not to say I haven't seen some extremely beautiful and complicated work by other artist using these methods and others that I haven't figured out yet. I know a lot of encaustic artist who's work I would have no problem hanging in my house and in fact would LOVE to own, but I guess what I am trying to say, is that I missed the actual act of painting a realistic likeness of something as my art and was feeling like I had lost my "edge". Make any sense?

So last year, in January, I decided to do a complete 180 on my art and start painting people, something I've avoided throughout my whole art career. It was a scary venture for me but I needed to shake things up a bit and see what happened. I was stuck creatively and needed some sort of shove to get me thinking and challenging myself again.Well, it turned out to be the best decision for me because I feel like I am creating some of the most meaningful, unique work that I have ever done. Some may say that I am still avoiding faces since I cover the eyes with a black bar, but I do start off painting the complete face before blocking out the eyes and with the ACEOs I am drawing (and will soon be painting) this year, I am drawing the complete face. Some have come out better than others, and there are a couple that I am extremely happy with. I included those on this post.

So what's the lesson here? Sometimes you need to move outside of your comfort zone in order to discover what really speaks to you. It may take some transition time for you and you may lose some clients that like your previous work, but you can't grow as an artist if you never challenge yourself. I know I've grown a lot in the last year!

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