Most of us have heard the phrase, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” I’ve always loved this phrase and realize it is very true. This phrase was mentioned as a proverb in the Christian bible, I hope you don’t mind my giving relevance here.
Matthew 6:22-23 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
This is a very old reference to eyes, but it isn’t the oldest. It appeared also as a quote from Cicero (106-143 BCE) With these credible references there must be some truth to this, right? Well, yes, there is.
One thing an interrogator will use when they are questioning a suspect is watching what happens around the eyes. What someone does with eyes is very telling. If someone downcast eyes to avoid eye contact, looks up to the ceiling, or averts eye contact in any way could be a sign of avoiding a truth. Of course, there are many other body language gestures happening that are important along with this.
So, you are probably wondering why we are talking about this here. If you do any form of artwork that portrays a human, and sometimes even animals, faces the eyes are central to the mood of that animal. Thinking of my own children, I could always tell in their eyes when they did not feel well. I could also tell when they were telling me a whopper and hoping to get away with it.
There are always so many things to consider when painting, drawing, sculpting a face. The eyes can help us locate many things on the face, corner of nose, length of mouth, distance from top of head to chin. Of course, there are so many variables. No one has a perfect face proportioned, this is what makes us all unique. We aren’t cloned and exact. This is why it is so difficult to gather a likeness, not just for appearances but also personality.
Eye color, shape, size, location on the head relevant to the other features are all considerations. One can spend many years studying the human face to achieve mastery of a likeness. If one little thing is awry, it throws everything off.
Make it a point to study other people’s eyes. They are quite fascinating. Notice how they look out of their eyes, how they glance, or lock into your gaze. Some people can’t do that. In some cultures, it is considered disrespectful to gaze into someone else’s eyes. As an artist these points are all important to be aware of.