I almost never draw human faces, as they are devilishly difficult to do. No matter how close I get, I’m still a few millimeters off from a good likeness or centimeters off from even creating something that resembles a human. This particular little face is of my neice in Paris from a photo I had taken when I visited there last fall. It bears some resemblance, I think, but she’s far cuter in real life. Back when I wrote the prompt for today I was planning on attempt a human face, but I nearly chose a puppy instead as they’re more forgiving. But since this is my month of experimentation, I figured I would dare myself to try a portrait of a person. Or in this case, a rather little person. It’s always terrifying to me to attempt to paint anyone, much less a family member, so this was a good challenge. And I learned a bit about painting faces in the process so that’s never a bad thing.
It’s always amazing to me how just the smallest change in drawing a human face can alter it so severely. I think this is why I don’t enjoy doing it. I love to choose subjects and create a strong likeness, but doing that with people is insanely difficult. One small hair out of place or one little curve of an eye and you’ve invented an entirely new human being. This is stressful for me and I end up getting frustrated. I’m sure I would be better off to choose a completely random person, but strangers fail to capture my heart, which is how I paint. So this little painting, barring a perfect likeness, it at least from the heart as I miss this little girl very much. I only get to see her once a year, and she’s already grown up more since this photo was taken just a few months ago. It’s amazing how quickly our faces change as we grow up. It never seems to stop actually. This I realize as I look in the mirror and notice that new wrinkle that I could swear wasn’t there yesterday.
For many people, painting faces is a fun and joyous thing. You can see it in the paintings they produce as they are full of personality and energy. In mine, I think I’ve given my niece the expression of confusion and wonder that I had while painting this. I won’t likely return to human faces soon, but I will still try them every once in awhile just to force myself to expand my subject matter. In the meantime, I’d really rather be painting peppers or a slice of cake. Nobody will ever know if it’s that exact piece of food or not. I like that. It removes the stress of trying to bring something human to life. But the real lesson I learned is that I only get better at whatever I choose to practice. So if I ever want to improve and learn new techniques, I’ll need to keep pushing myself to try even the things that terrify me. Like painting faces.
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!