Thursday, August 20, 2009

We Tick, We Chime, We Strike The Hour

There is something about the human face that draws me back again and again. I find myself watching people. Instead of listening to what they are saying I am busy trying to analysis their features...long nose, deep set eyes, plump lips, etc. We are attracted to beautiful people. We can recognize intelligence or foolishness just by looking into a person's face. We intuit feelings by watching facial expressions and adjust our responses accordingly. A baby comes into the world intensely interested in his mother's face.

Obviously facial fascination is not exclusive to me. Think about all the ways we use the word in language.

baby face
face in the crowd
face like thunder
face that could stop a clock
face that only a mother could love
long face
poker face
about face
as plain as the nose on your face
at face value
blue in the face
cut off your nose to spite your face
get your face on
egg on your face
face facts
face the music
face up to
fly in the face of the evidence
in your face
it's written all over your face
keep a straight face
kick sand in his face
laugh in your face
face it
face the music
lose face
on the face of it
plain as the nose on your face
put a brave face on
save face
set your face against something
shut your face
slap in the face
face that launched a thousand ships

I cannot sit down with my sketchbook without looking for a face to draw. I know, I've tried. I am inextricably drawn to draw the human face.

I loathe the expression "What makes him tick." It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm. - James Thurber


  1. I have never ever thought abut a face this way!
    I admire you and the fact that you love to draw portraits. I am very bad at it and dislike it as well. I am completely taken by your art. The fact that you see what you just described is so palpable from your pictures.
    I think I feel this passionately about "movement". I absolutely love to paint objects in motion. That is why I paint a lot of running horses.;))

  2. While faces seem so easy for you to portray I feel so inept when trying to capture someone. I am intrigued by your style. I think it is so wonderful. Such a thought provoking post too. I too look at people, animals etc..I always look at their eyes first. Often that is what I remember about people, their eyes.

  3. Stevie, I love these faces, especially the last one. Her eyes make me wonder what has obviously caught her attention. You know I work with eyes so, of course, they are special to me. Yes, we need to have a Mary Engelbreit part. Wouldn't that be fun? We could have all things "Mary" around us and look over the issues. Her magazine going away has been very traumatic for me. I wrote a comment on her blog. I'm so happy I can least still feel somewhat connected to her. T

  4. Let's face it, this is why I come to your blog. A little art and a little something to think about! Love the art today.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I loved all your list of "face" idioms. I never heard of a "face like thunder" ..sounds fierce! Your face sketches are all wonderfully expressive.

    You are so right in your comment about my living in the midst of history...but I didn't even know it until this year! I'm so glad I learned so much about it.

  6. oh what a fab post, and i also love to 'people watch', and i have soe of your fab faces in atc form yay! i am going to add your blog to my sidebar again, it fell off there some time back, and i do so enjoy reading your stuff... hugs to you stephanie!!

  7. Stevie I love that James Thurber quote. I adore it.

  8. Photographs of faces are most intriguing too...I admire all those famous portrait is a difficult talent...I love your drawings of faces!

  9. You're right Debby. It is a wonderful quote isn't it?

  10. I lurve your drawings. Do you prefer real people or do you do magazines or photos too? Of course MY favorite is the Orient Express post card on my refrigerator that you sent me after I shamelessly begged for it and your graciously blessed me!


I'm glad you stopped by and I look forward to your comments. As Dr. Fraser Crane would say, "Hello, I'm listening."