Facing My Fears

I’ve always hated drawing faces; that is, until my first year in college.


The thought and practice of drawing something that defines a certain character correctly seemed difficult and abnormal. If I were to draw a face, it would take hours because of how picky I was. In the least, it became a hassle to prescribe detail after detail onto a face in order to perfect its original form. After all, if a cheekbone were to be slightly off, the face immediately becomes someone else’s, regardless of how accurate the rest looks. That’s what I was focused on anyways.

I believe it was the shift in my state of mind that changed my view of things. The lessons I received, even at its most basic, led me to have interest in drawing portraits. I can summarize three of these lessons into notes:

  1. The shape of the face is more than just congruent structures that always seem to have no end. Much like everything else, whether human or not, the form becomes a collection of shapes to the artist’s eye. It’s a mask of layer after layer consisting of irregular and regular shapes to give the impression of an objective piece (while non-objective art shows this theory more clear). In a sense, it’s easier to think of objects as several varieties of shapes even when constructing detailed studies like, “Mary and Son,” it just consists of a lot more shapes.
  2. The value is one of the most important points and it’s what captured my interest into chiaroscuro and baroque art. Values provide form and structure to the piece. Whatever we clearly see in life is always altered by light and shadow. It makes sense to us to have a connection to this element, as it should have to me beforehand. Now when I look back at my old art, I see that what makes it dull consists mainly because of its lack of value. It morphs together to become a single shape without much excitement, which brings me to my final point…
  3. You have to have fun when creating art, especially when you don’t have the passion or motivation to create it. The assignment I was tasked in class was to draw eleven portraits of myself. Although quite simple now, this was an excruciating thought to handle. I hated drawing faces, or even humans in general. While this lesson wasn’t taught to me by a teacher, it became a self-taught lesson nonetheless. I had no motivation to complete the assignment, but it had to be done. To strike my interest I used acrylic paint and a loose hand (as apposed to my normal steady hand). Not only that, but I wanted to add a theme to these portraits. Whatever new medium I was going to use to create them, I would draw my typical facial feature when reacting to the said medium. For example, acrylic would be my normal (almost bland) face, a permanent marker would be my face after smelling its toxic fumes, and pen would be a reminder of sitting through my early morning English classes taking notes.


I would highly recommend this thematic assignment as it changed my life as an artist forever. It led me to expand my skills and face my fears. The human emotion means everything in art, and having the ability to directly draw an emotion is a big accomplishment in itself.

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2 thoughts on “Facing My Fears

  1. Great post and selection of work. I went through similar circumstances and began to feel bored with my own work until I found a style I enjoyed, and let go of needing every drawing to be hyper realistic.

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