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Facial Expressions
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:10 am    Post subject: Facial Expressions Reply with quote

Hi,
Just posting my thoughts on the heads of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt -
They brought to mind a film I'd seen on the results of trauma in shell-shocked soldiers of WW1.
They constantly repeated similair grimaces. I wondered given the time he was sculpting - around the time of the enlightenment when "reason" was overtaking the biblical worldview; if he had studied inmates of asylums in the name of amateur science?
I would think it quite difficult for a model to be able to sustain these extreme expressions for very long even if they were paid to do so!
Below is an image called " Christ of the Valderas" of the many interpretations of this subject, this one I find the expression fascinating.
(Sorry I didn't have abigger image for you.)

yours Jeanette
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nicely edited!
Good to read some of those early thoughts again.
I thought of a couple of extra things.
There is a tendency for people to consider the expression element as a seperate issue, especially our clients.
I think they often imagine that we make the shape of a head and then stick on the features and expression a bit like a potatoe head.
It's true that our clients can get carried away with how nice it might be to have the broad grin on a particular photograph. This is still possible but as we've discussed before it's often best to play down the contrast in the modelling of the teeth. (i.e. difference between the dark and light areas.) Half closing your eyes when you look at these areas is good for establishing this, and important to step back to see how it looks from across the room..
It's good to spend a lot of time looking at the available reference and try and figure out the personality of our subject and what elements come together to produce the expression.
Also have a look in the mirror, think about something really funny or serious ort whatever and see what goes on in your face.
As has been said by others, subtlety is everything. Sometimes a slight raising of eyebrow, opening of the eye etc. can have very positive results and things happen to the nose when expressions change too.
I've always found it best to think of the whole and and attempt to develop expression as early as possible whilst building the structure.
Stuart

Edit: Here's an example of a broad smile expression

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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:16 am    Post subject: Expressions Reply with quote

Stuart,
As mentioned in a previous post I'm constantly studying online,as well as from publications.A year or so ago I stumbled across the portrait society site in England.After viewing your Truman I must have revisited the site 3 or 4 times specifically for that piece.It is the most sucessful piece I've seen with an open mouth smile and otherwise captures the man's personality to a "t".This was before I discovered this site or your work in general.I'm now a fan.
Joel
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words Joel, and ......good pun!
S
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:41 am    Post subject: expressions of a religeous nature Reply with quote

I'm also intrigued by the expressions on religeous paintings Icons and sculptures.
Although not a religeous person myself, one cannot avoid the subject matter if one is interested in art with a big A, and I've spent many weeks viewing the works of rennaissance masters in various European countries.
Somebody once said that God had the best music. I think he had a lot of the best paintings and sculptures too!
That aside, the attempt to portray the depth of emotion and adoration is extraordinary, particularly in works of this period.
This is a great example which I haven't seen before Jeanette.
Thanks for sharing
Stuart
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Stuart,
I think what keeps ones attention in this piece is that those eyes express so much more going on inside the person.
I saw the portrait of your dad when I was browseing through, and I liked that the eyes were left hollow, it expressed to me those areas of our parents lives that as children are mystery, even though we are so close to them.
I am really studying eyes at the moment., because I am just past the potatoe head stage. Very Happy
I'm sure theres a joke in there somewhere about peeling spuds but I shall spare you all! Wink
Jeanette.
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope my last post didn't get too flippant...!
Religious art presents a rich seam to draw from, although it is a difficult line to tread .
Here is a sculpt of the goddess of death/destruction - Kathkali.
She extends her tongue in the same disturbing manner as one of Franz's heads, Quite literally, her spirit is revealed by her facial expression -
no need to ponder on her message, we get it straight away.

("portrait - "portare" - "to reveal".)
I think portraiture works best when something of the elusive nature of the person is revealed, and not put on show all at once. (I think Stuart successfuly captured Pavarotti's modesty in a sublime way.)
The hardest thing for a portrait artist must be to depict a client as they see themselves...which brings us to the area of "political correctness" that Thaine was hinting at, as in having to make compromises when needs dictate. sigh....it's just life I guess!
Oh, and as for the Mona Lisa, my old art teacher told me it was because she had rotten teeth...I'll bet Da Vinci was ecstatic that this way he didn't have to takle them.
jeanette
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Alexandra Buslovich



Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm... I do not believe the rotten teeth, and no one knows who Mona Lisa was, anyway... as far as I know it is only in our modern times, that mouths are painted not firmly closed? It gives more dignity?

Alexandra
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Alexander,
Its beleive she was the wife of a merchant named Francesco del Giocondo.
I am not sure about the teeth either, as my art teacher had a nice sense of humour. It's fun to make the conjecture though.
Jeanette
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:26 pm    Post subject: Expressions Reply with quote

It seems to me that there are three aspects to this discussion.First is the necessity to develop the ability to sculpt subtle expression relevent to comissioned portraiture.Secondly is personal taste.Third would be those heads on religous figures as discussed,and,monument sculpture as well.
The heads in the Burghers of Calais or the shooter in the Virginia State Memorial can stand on thier own and communicate the emotion and/or event through their intense expression and asymetry suggesting movement.
Some time ago I was looking at photos of my work individually and grouped and was bored and frustrated because at most there were perhaps only 1-3 expressions.They all seemed to look alike.The same with the work with many others I've seen.This has led me to work on my series of self portraits.Don't have to worry about flattering a client and it's an intense learning experience.
The "fantastic" heads Messerschmidt did representing bodily functions and unfortunate situations are certainly not to every ones taste.I think they are repected for his technical and expressive ability.Why did he do them?I think largely because he could.Here we are hundreds of years later still discussing his work.
I remember being involved in many caffiene and wine soaked debates of photography versus art,realism versus the abstract,computer generated versus hand made.Personal preference true,saleability perhaps different discussion.

Joel
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Jeanette Lewis



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kyle,
I am with you on Franz sculpting those technical works because he could. His skill is quite amazing!
You are right that "the ability to sculpt subtle expression" is an aspiration of all artists who strive to express the human condition, whether they are commissioned to do so or not.
(I think it is commendable that you are trying some self portraits so as to experiment freely without the constraints a client would bring to the work. Smile )
I chose the sculpt of "Kali" as a paradox if you like;- because in religious thought, as a spirit she has no expereince of having a human body.
She is the condition of "Hatred" embodied, or made visible by her sculptor.
I liked the comparison between this image and those of Franz; because both artists had been motivated to "flesh out " an extreme emotion.
Somehow there was an elusive interface (pardon the pun!) between the two resulting works. One conceptual and the other actual.
(Perhaps I wasn't very clear on that - posting on a forum is never the same as discusing art in the wee small hours of the morning.) Very Happy
Earning a living is important,...however there is a saying which goes: "Bread for the table, flowers for the soul."
I guess on occasion I put too many flowers in the vase! Smile
Jeanette
(A Link some may find of interest:- http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/about-us/press-and-media/sacred-made-real-spanish-painting-and-sculpture)
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Last edited by Jeanette Lewis on Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Expression; Truman Reply with quote

Stuart,
At the risk of feeling even more inferior,I was wondering how long the sculpt was for your Truman portrait?

Joel
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Stuart



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 834

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I'm away from home, working on a commission like this I work around 6hours a day, each day including weekends, until the portrait begins to show and mostly everything is in the right place....................then I loosen off a bit and take a half day off to reflect and recharge the batteries...........then in full throttle again for a few days, only getting into a more contemplative mode as I bring the work to a close.
3 weeks or so in this intensive manner.
A personal job can take much longer because i walk away from it a lot and do other things............!
The best
Stuart
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Joel Levinson



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
Location: Long Branch, New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:46 pm    Post subject: sculpt time Reply with quote

Stuart,
Thank you for your reply regarding your sculpt times.

Joel
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Luke Shepherd



Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 29
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:12 am    Post subject: Paul Eckman - Research in Expression Reply with quote

Have you seen the research of Paul Eckman?
http://face.paulekman.com/default.aspx
His books are good. Has anybody done the F.A.C.E. training programme?
Would be interested to know how it is? and how useful it is for portrait sculpting?
Luke
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