One day recently whilst I was working on one of my paintings, my son asked me why do some of the ladies that I paint have no faces i.e. no eyes, no nose and sometimes no mouth. The question threw me a bit as I’ve never thought too deeply about it. I must have said to him something along the lines of “Because they’re expressing themselves with their bodies”
It probably sounded a bit lame and I’m not sure if he understood but he nodded his head and eventually wandered off after watching me paint a bit more.
So naturally after his question I started to really explore why I do this. These are the answers I came up with which expand on what I told my son:
Whenever I try to add facial features to these particular types of paintings, it just doesn’t look right! The ideas that I draw on paper always seem to emerge with just the shape of the face, the hairstyle and body shape already in place. Every single time I try to draw in eyes and nose, it always looks weird so I just stopped doing it. Lips are a bit better as sometimes those add to the personality of the lady I’m drawing.
I remember an art teacher telling me once that I should never try to fit facial features into the outline of a face. She said that I should always draw the features first and then draw the face around them and it is actually a principle that I do apply when I’m drawing portraits.
‘Mother’s Pride’ Watercolour ACEO 2.5″ x 3.5″ © Stacey-Ann Cole 2012
The ideas I have for these paintings seem to always have a theme and the figure I draw is an expression of that theme. It really is mostly about expressing an emotion through the posture, the placement of an arm or leg and the tilt of the head. The body is saying something specific and there isn’t the need for facial features to express that same thing.
‘Dance & The World Dances With You’ Original Watercolour Painting 5.75″ x 8″, part of the Serenity, Joy Art Series
© Stacey-Ann Cole 2011
So it’s been a good exercise in delving a bit deeper into some of my art and figuring out why I do things in a certain way. It’s given me new understanding and hopefully I’ve enlightened anyone else who may have been wondering this about my work too!
Any other artists out there who draw figures without faces? Is there a particular reason? I’d love to hear your comments below!