Taking a Trend to Task: Part 2

Painting and/or drawing faces in journals and canvas is hot, hot, hot right now.  That makes me happy because the human form is often a fear-inducing art subject and the more that people challenge what scares them, the more free they are to explore and communicate in all aspects of their art.  That being said, a quick survey of the "art faces" out there reveals a couple of trends that are starting to elicit yawns from me.  

In part one of this topic, I discussed the "blankness" of so many of those portraits and today, it is all about the "sameness" of the women depicted; as a rule, when someone decides to have a go at painting or drawing a face, what emerges is female, young, pretty, white, and thin.  In addition, the head is often tilted to one side and the woman is looking directly out of the painting, presumeably to draw in the viewer with a direct (blank) stare.

Throughout art history, the (white) female form has been used as the standard of beauty.  However, it is very important to note that women in art most often had a little "meat" on their bones...OK...let's be clear: they were plus-sized, with all sorts of rolls and lumps.  I could go on and on about the modern standard of beauty projected onto society by the media but that's a discussion for a different blog.  Suffice it to say that the female figure in art has been steadily shrinking in size and current mixed media trends reflect that dramtically.

As before, consider this post more of a challenge rather than an admonishment.  Experiment with portraits and figures that don't follow the herd.  Consider representing the subject that looks away from the viewer, skin tones that shy away from porcelain white, the face that has seen a little bit of living and a couple more meals than advised.  And *gasp* try drawing a male figure now & then.  That's what I see when I go out into the world.  When I paint, why would I then continually create art that makes it seem as if I'm trapped in a land of Disney princesses?  

The portraits you see here are far from perfect: the first young lady looks like she has an unfortunate goiter of some sort and the latter face has a rather unhealthy pallor but the point is that I am pushing, pushing, pushing.  I want my art to keep evolving.  If I repeatedly fall in line with what everyone else is doing, I might be blinded to exciting alternate possibilities.  Stray from the flock once in a while; sometimes that can lead down a much more interesting path.


iHanna said…
Great post, and lovely portraits! The last one, because you mentioned princesses, made me think of an aging Poccahontas! ;-)
Marit said…
Thank you for this post... you are soooo right! I love your sketches, and with this, you encourage everyone to try and paint beyond the 'pretty faces.' Thanks!
chris a said…
I found your blog through Marit, and I so totally agree with you. I am glad that many people are exploring their emotions, their lives, and their desires through art (i.e. bland self-portraits) but I think perhaps they want to create something wham, bam, thank you mam and move on, rather than to spend the time learning to see and to develop their art. I completely agree with you about exploring other images - leaving your comfort zone is such a great way to grow as an artist. Thanks for approaching this subject.
pilarisa321 said…
I have so enjoyed these last two posts regarding the portrait. xoxoxo