A number of the exercises and instructional sequences in this book are designed to enable you to draw recognizable portraits. Let me explain why I think portrait drawing is useful as a subject for beginners in art. Broadly speaking, except for the degree of complexity, all drawing is the same. One drawing task is no harder than any other. The same skills and ways of seeing are involved in drawing still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. It's all the same thing: You see what's out there (imaginary subjects are "seen" in the mind's eye) and you draw what you see.
Why, then, have I selected portrait drawing for some of the exercises? For three reasons. First, beginning students of drawing often think that drawing human faces is the hardest of all kinds of drawing. Thus, when students see that they can draw portraits, they feel confident and their confidence enhances progress. A second, more important, reason is that the right hemisphere of the human brain is specialized for recognition of faces. Since the right brain is the one we will be trying to gain access to, it makes sense to choose a subject that the right brain is used to working with. And third, faces are fascinating! Once you have drawn a person, you will really have seen that individual's face. As one of my students said, "I don't think I ever actually looked at anyone's face before I started drawing. Now, the oddest thing is that everyone looks beautiful to me."
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