Drawing the Face Frontal View

"When Gertrude Stein saw my canvas, she protested,

It doesn't look like me!' I told her, You 7/ see. One dayjou'll end up looking just likejour portrait.'"



drawing by student sherry artemenko

Luckily for anyone who wants to draw it, the relationships between the features of the face and the rest of the head are set in bone. These relationships are surface manifestations of the underlying skull structure, something which, except for the mobility of neck and jaws, is a rigid structure. This is good news for the beginner artist, since there are fewer variables to deal with. The real challenge in drawing the face is perceptual, rather than technical. It can be a struggle to accept what is seen instead of what is stored as a symbol in the mind. Most beginners are still at the symbol stage when it comes to faces, a place useful for practical, as opposed to aesthetic, functioning.

The biggest challenge in drawing the face is observing it in afresh, new way, seeing what's there asjou never have seen it before.

What do I mean by "symbols"? Picture the lollipop head on the stick neck. Large, staring eyes rimmed with spike lashes. The nose with ball-bearing nostrils. Hairstyle worn simply but efficiently on the tip-top of the head. It works. It says face. But is it art? Are those symbols based on actual knowledge of the human face? We know our own face and the faces of close friends and family-but long ago, we stopped paying attention to specifics.

We've learned to see largely for survival purposes, so we have moved our seeing functions into general categories, those recognitions that will allow us to have our needs met. We know noses, but darn if we have ever really observed one as carefully as when our grandfather bounced us on his knee. So when we say we can't draw a nose, we're saying we know one when we see one, but haven't really taken the time to observe how all those pieces hook up. Who knows one's own nose? It's time to take a look.

The following pages will show you what to look for, as well as the best and easiest way to draw it. Remember, if you haven't been to this destination before, you aren't supposed to know how to get there!


2H and 2B pencils 14"-x-17" drawing pad scrap paper Pink Pearl eraser and writing-pencil eraser

"When I draw, it takes me a long, longtime. I know

I'll never get anyone else to sit still long enough— so I draw myself. "

-studentjim hohorst

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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