Why Are Faces So Fascinating?

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“Mona Lisa Overdrive” — Illustration by the Author.

A number of years ago I was paging through a large volume titled Treasures from the National Gallery of Art and I came across the following quote by Joseph Addison.

“It is pleasure to look on the Picture of any Face, where the Resemblance is hit, but the Pleasure increases, if it be the Picture of a Face that is beautiful, and is still greater, if the Beauty be softened with an Air of Melancholy or Sorrow.”
— Joseph Addison
(1712)

What is it that makes faces so fascinating? Some people say faces fascinate because they are windows to the soul. Over the years many studies have noted that infants very early on are drawn to faces. More recently studies have shown that even before they leave the womb infants have a developing fascination with faces.

Whoa. That’s quite a startling finding.

All I know is that before I ever went to kindergarten I was drawing faces. And to this day I continue to make faces, as in drawing and painting them.

I don’t recall how old I was, maybe four or five, but I used to trace faces from magazine and then cut out the eyes so that I could place the face on a green, beige or yellow wall and see how the face changed based on the color of the eyes.

To this day faces are a theme that runs through many of my paintings and drawings. For some reason I find it fascinating how simply by manipulating shapes and shadows, form and line one can capture an emotion and make a connection, soul to soul, with a viewer who engages it.

Not every work of art connects with its viewers, even those in the National Gallery, but when they do something special happens. And often it involves a face. So here are ten quotes about faces…

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” ~Victor Hugo

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
~Abraham Lincoln

“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.” ~Cicero

“People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart.” ~Bertolt Brecht

“The loveliest faces are to be seen by moonlight, when one sees half with the eye and half with fancy.” ~Persian Proverb
(EdNote: This might explain why some people like to meet in bars.)

“Clowns wear a face that’s painted intentionally on them so they appear to be happy or sad. What kind of mask are you wearing today?” ~Anonymous

“The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.”
~Jack Handy

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.” ~Groucho Marx

Have a nice day and a great week. May your eyes shine and face be bright.

Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com

Written by

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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