Most of us who draw and/or paint have at one time or another attempted to create a face – a human face. It may have been someone well known like Einstein or Abraham Lincoln, or a child, or older person. It could have been a relative or someone who wanted you to draw their Uncle Clem and gave you a photograph to use as reference. The scenarios of creation are wide and varied.
There is nothing more difficult to reproduce than a human face. It is a real challenge to not only create the skin color, features on the face, the hair style and color, but most importantly the person’s persona. Capturing the essence of the person’s inner character or personality is the trick. If your subject looks like the photo, but is lacking something, it is probably this, the personality. I have found this to be true even in painting someone’s dog. Dogs appear to look alike, but like us they all have different personalities and no one knows that better than their owners. Again, you have to capture that character to be successful. A tall order.
Considering all of this, one might wonder if it would be easier to paint or draw a face from your imagination. This does work, and is quite possible. There is no personality to capture from a real person so that part shouldn’t be an issue. But is it really?
If you have created faces from imagination, did you ever wonder where those faces came from? How can you create someone who doesn’t exist? Writers do it all the time when they write fiction. Every person in a book, unless its history or historical fiction, is made up, someone who does not truly exist only in the mind of the writer. Amazing how that non-existent person takes shape in the reader’s mind. We imagine those people from words and put ourselves right into their experiences. Amazing!
I have wondered as I have created fictional characters in paint where those faces originate from. Are they a compilation of all the people I have ever seen? Have I seen someone at some time and their facial features stuck in my memory? Its an interesting question to ask yourself. Most of us paint and draw imaginary people in a beautiful imagined reality.
Something to contemplate about as you are working on portraits or sketches. See what you can come up with from imagination. Try it!