Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Many of the people I paint have either extra facial features or whole extra heads, or both. I've done this as a way of trying (in a maybe too literal way?) to get the figures to express multidimensional emotions. For example, a face with one large smiling mouth and one smaller, less visible, frowning mouth can express hidden fears and reservations within a broader positive feeling.
The trick though, and what really interests me, is including extra features in a face without upsetting the sense of recognition and familiarity within the viewer that is generally evoked by an unmolested image of a human face.
The way I do this is by creating a hierarchy of features - subduing, scaling, or camouflaging duplicate features so that one face becomes dominant and immediately recognizable, while other features or faces are de-emphasized and incorporated and are appreciated only after closer inspection.
As an exercise, in this self portrait I tried to paint two faces, one upside-down and one right-side-up, with the upside-down face concealed as unobtrusively as possible (apart from the overly rosy cheeks) within the right-side-up.