Be DaringI have a fascination with the human face.  I love the uniqueness of each human face, particularly in various lighting to experience the impact of shade and light. I love watching movies to see how the shadows are cast on the actors’ faces and the impact on the viewer.  Given my love of the face, I want to learn how to capture it on paper for a couple of purposes.  One is to become proficient at drawing realistic faces and mastering the effect of light and shade.  The second goal is to learn how to create whimsical faces and incorporate them into my art.

As with any large goal that can seem daunting at the starting gate, I noticed I was resisting learning how to draw a face. I was procrastinating and definitely not committing to learning this new skill that I viewed as important to my developing art.  I found it fascinating that something I determined was important to learn, had a desire to learn and that I had such a strong desire to apply to my art could also cause such an irrational fear to begin.  What was the source of the resistance? Was it the dreaded blank page? Or the fear of failure – what if I couldn’t learn the skills to draw a face? Or would my faces look horrendous and discourage me?  I found it interesting that if I asked a 6 year old to draw a face, she’d race to find paper and pencil to draw it for me!  I was present to the resistance we develop over time that has no basis in fact and can stunt us from growth and development if we don’t push through it. We are the ultimate losers if we allow resistance and fear to take us out of the game by not even starting a new project or learning a new skill.  We’ll never know what we could do if we never try.

When I looked at what was happening, I decided to channel my 6 year old self, grabbed my paper,  pencils, some books I bought and my computer to take an online tutorial on drawing a face.  I sat at my table with the self-imposed mandate that I was not getting up until I drew a face.  From my experience, the best way to handle resistance is to force myself to jump into what I’m resisting. Here’s what I experienced:

several books on my drawing table that guide me to learn how to draw a face

I reviewed some great books by Dina Wakely and Pam Carriker learned about proportion and guidelines and various techniques.

A photo of the book Art Journal Courage by artist Dina Wakley

A photo of the book: Mixed Media Portraits by Pam Carriker

My goal was to learn techniques to draw a face. In particular, I was interested in learning formulas and proportion guides to help me with placement of facial features.  I found that each artist I studied started with more formal guidelines (thank you Leonardo da Vinci) and then modified them to meet their goals and styles.  I recognized that I would benefit from reviewing and trying on the various guides and then create my own.  So here’s my first week of practice:

Practice sketch face and features

Pencil sketch of a face

A photo of a Pencil Sketch of a female face

Pencil sketch of face

Pencil Sketch of Face with Marker Hair

Rough Graphite Pencil Sketch of Woman's Face

Then, I took an online class from Tamara Laporte, artist extraordinaire at Willowing Arts, to see what she could teach me about drawing a face.  Her class was a home run from the first video!  She pulled all the various components together for me and I had a more solid foundation to create.  Tamara is a very talented artist with a huge range of easy-to-understand techniques.  She’s also very “real” – she is down-to-earth, fun, creative, funny, whimsical, and very talented.  Here is my first class lesson and the results:

A photo of The start of a web tutorial to draw a face


A photo of the very beginning of drawing a face showing the guidelines and some feature placeholders

Beginning of a face sketch in pencil

Pencil Sketch of a Face

The next day, I attended a book festival in Berkeley (which was fabulous and the subject of a separate blog post!). I tucked a small sketch pad and some pencils in my bag.   While I was waiting for a presenter, I pulled out my sketch pad and drew the below face.  I was astounded – this is the first time I’ve drawn a face without looking at a photo or another drawing – THE FIRST TIME!  Tamara did a great job teaching the guidelines for the proportions of the face, when and where to insert them, and when to erase them.  With her guidelines, I was able to create an original face from scratch.

Quick Pencil Sketch of a Lady's Face while Waiting for a Presentation

I practiced drawing faces all week.  The next class with Tamara surprised me – I was to paint a face!  I’ve never painted a face and didn’t think I was ready to paint one before I could draw one!  Nevertheless, who is the student to question the teacher? Within two hours, I had painted my first face.  From resistance to drawing and painting faces in two weeks.  Imagine if I never busted through my resistance – I’d still be wondering and dreaming, but not DOING. I would be missing out on the experience I desired and stuck playing small and uncertain.

Is there something in your life that you’ve been resisting while having a desire to take on?  Why not dare to take on that resistance and declare your dream is more important than any perceived fear. Let my purple-haired lady be your muse and find the courage to step through your fears and resistance to see what you can create by taking one step, followed by another, and another.  Declare your commitment to one week of sincere action.  After your week of resolve and action, please leave a comment and share your success story!  Now, don’t you have a goal to take on?  Get to it!

A photo of a Painted Lady with Purple Hair