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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Faces of Humanity -- the Richness of Spirit

(This photograph will be the basis for my next painting)
I have an obsession with faces. They tell so much about a person, and yet so little. Worry lines may soon turn into laugh lines when the heart is merry. Eyes glisten in the presence of a loved one or a good friend. Tears may signify joy or sadness; the face reflects the nuance and the feelings that others seek to interpret.

As we age, faces become more like maps to the past. How we have lived, what we have experienced is often reflected in the way we hold our mouth or in the downcast look in our eyes. Creases may symbolize chronic illness and pain or a hardworking existence in the great outdoors.
"A Joyful Heart" 9x12 pastel on Bristol; Matted and ready to frame (11x14).
As poets have said for hundreds of years “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” We like to think that we can see into someone else’s life through their eyes, but we’re only guessing. Ted Bundy, a serial killer, had very seductive eyes; but I doubt his victims saw into his soul. If they had, they would have fled in terror.

Still, eyes can tell us about emotion. My next portrait is of a young Indian mother and her two children (1st photo) as they observe something with reverential eyes. Are they worshipping? Do they see someone they revere or are they only hoping for something better to come into their lives?

Their faces captured my attention and I needed to paint them. This is an actual photograph taken by some friends in India. I see longing in the eyes of this family, and at the same time awe. Perhaps you’ll see and feel something altogether different; but if I paint them with my interpretation, perhaps you’ll see them the way that I do.

This is the delight of the creative life. An artist has a deep felt need to express what he or she sees and feels. Sometimes it is a negative message to convey an opinion or make a statement. At other times it is a heartfelt desire to share a joyful picture representing the goodness and the common bond of humanity.
(I have applied the drawing to a 24x18 white canvas)
Faces are like sculpture. Their form and definition, their shapes and lines are beautiful unto themselves. I enjoy painting people of color. The richness of skin tones and the variant shades are remarkable and a challenge to capture. Facial features are bolder, more pronounced, and they fit together perfectly, beautifully into a whole.

I’ve had some difficulty seeing lately so this new painting will be a challenge. I have mono-vision lenses that make it difficult to see depth; one eye is for close-ups and the other for distance. Luckily, when I hold a drawing or a painting up to the mirror, my flaws are usually revealed to me.

(Work in Progress: First layers of acrylic paint on the figures. I will change and altar what doesn't look right.)
I’m disheartened by the recent outburst of hate and racism in this country. While I see beauty in diversity many others focus on differences and see danger. Yet one God made us all and loves us equally. In that light, how then can we not reach out to others in friendship and tolerance?
"With these hands -- Hope" 16x20 canvas; oil on acrylic background.