100 Amazing Faces
Babies, even new-borns prefer to look at faces over everything else and learn to recognise familiar faces within weeks, or even days. They will recognise two dots and a dash drawn onto a balloon as primitive features. As infants it is programmed into us to respond to a face. Obviously, this has its roots in survival but as we grow up, we continue to respond to faces in a unique way. Most people can recognise and distinguish between hundreds, if not thousands of faces. Not only can we recognise faces in an instant, but we might also recognise someone’s mood or character too, we can guess their age, whether they are feeling unwell, tired, happy, sad or embarrassed etc. or we can spot family resemblances. Faces are fascinating to us, so is it any wonder they have fascinated artists for centuries too.
In the age where endless selfies have become a normal feature of everyday life we might ask if there is a place for portraiture in society today. Before the invention of the camera a painted or sculpted portrait was the only way in which someone’s image could be captured, and portraits often served as important historical documentation. Although it is worth bearing in mind that portraits were mostly commissioned by the wealthy and powerful who had strong opinions about how they should be portrayed which would very likely result in a not completely true likeness. But now that cameras are so readily available and most of us can snap thousands of images on our phones how does a painted portrait fit into the picture? If rendering a likeness was the only function of a painted portrait, then we might indeed be correct to assume it is a redundant art form. We don’t need artists to tell us what someone looks like
But a painting is so much more than capturing an image and whilst creating a likeness is important, a portrait is not aiming for photo realism but rather is looking for an essence of someone. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said that the face is the manifestation of the soul, the outer man being a picture of the inner man and I believe that is at the heart of portrait painting. We want to capture something of the soul of a person, something of the inner self, the character, the personality.
But maybe it is even more than that because as artists we also put something of ourselves in every painting we make. When you add that to the mix, along with the expectations of the sitter… after all it’s not only the rich and powerful who want to be shown to be looking good… painting portraits is an absolute minefield! So, it is with more than just a little trepidation that I venture into a project that I’m hoping will keep me busy for months to come.
Some of you reading may know that the 100Day project is about to start on 22nd February. The 100Day project is about committing to doing something creative for 100 days continuously and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #the100DayProject. It is a simple idea that is easy to join, encourages creativity yet it can have far reaching results. It allows the establishment of a daily creative habit that can be the start of something amazing. You can read a little bit more the project here.
Just like last year I am aiming to to create 100 portraits in 2023, (I managed a little over fifty last year) but rather than picking random photographs from magazines etc I want to draw and paint the people who receive my newsletter, follow me on social media or read this blog… that is YOU! Full information will go out in my newsletter on 16th February, but if you don’t receive it and want to know more then please do get in touch (although getting my newsletter is the best way to find out what is going on and you can find the sign up button at the bottom of this page). Briefly, the way it works is that you send me a photograph and I interpret it in a drawing or painting. Sadly, it’s not quite the same as having someone sit for me but the next best thing! All the work will be for sale but there will be no obligation to buy.
This year though, I am going to bend the rules slightly. Although I am going to commit to work daily on my project throughout the 100 days, I’m not necessarily going to aim to finish within the time span. In fact it is highly unlikely. Nor am I going to commit to daily posting on Instagram, but will do the occasional post when I have something to share. It might turn into a 365 day project by the time I finish but that’s okay.
And if you are on Instagram and want to follow me or join in, I will be using a unique hashtag #100amazing faces. I can’t wait for it to start and I would love it if you were to consider contributing a photo.