18 January 2014

Musing about drawing faces

While looking for "reference and inspiration" images of portraits I came across the work of Linda Karshan - and fell on it with glad cries. Geometry! Spaciousness! Spontaneity! Structure! - this is the kind of art I "like" and think I would like to make ... spare, focussed, something that didn't know it was going to exist until it came into being, and then came into being in a very directed way, yet without the limitation of being representational.

Whereas - a face is a face, in the flesh or translated onto a page. I'm staying open to the many possible differences about faces, about approaches to depicting them - after all, aren't humans the most fascinating thing there can be? Maybe my basic problem is that I think not ... and much prefer what humans can do or have done, rather than what they are - the abstract rather than the real, perhaps.
Humans are hard-wired to look for faces
A face is a face - and we look for faces everywhere! - so how far in treating it "artistically" can you go so that it's still an identifiable person? One approach is the minimalism of Matisse, drawing models (not known to you or me) ... the other end of the spectrum as far as this kind of simplification is concerned is cartooning or caricature? Then I wonder about complexity in treatment, which sometimes happens in textiles, though portraiture with cloth and stitch is not all that common; but with textile processes it's all too easy to pile on one thing after another. Perhaps printmaking adds that kind of complexity too - all those (hidden) steps needed to get the result.

I'm not considering sculpture. My concern is with making something that is 3D, a living face, into something that is 2D, a drawing - marks and lines and shapes.

Another thought - is being representational necessarily all that much of a limitation? What about Chuck Close (who, interestingly, is "face blind"), Archimboldo - dozens of others....
Self-portrait by Chuck Close, 2000 (via)
"Arcimboldo's The Four Seasons questions our notions of the human face and the sentiments it evokes" (via)

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