As part of my self-education in art, I copied faces from magazines, photographs from ads and articles. Celebrities depicted in magazines and newspapers are sometimes photographed very skillfully. And the celebrities themselves display an intensity of personality, a sparkle, sometimes depths of suffering. One of the reasons these public figures speak to our imagination is because they have the ability to appear greater than us, as if they contained each of us in some way.
Every day, as I looked for a photo to reproduce, I’d leaf through a magazine until someone’s face said to me, “I’m interesting and expressive, and you’d enjoy studying me and drawing me. You’ll even learn something about yourself if you do this.” In magazines, it was mostly men’s faces that spoke to me like this. The men were depicted in action, or expressing a strong emotion, their faces creased with lines and bumps, showing a lot of wear and tear—in other words, showing signs of life.
And the women? Almost without exception, they were made up so that that their skin showed nothing but a single smooth surface. No lines, no creases, no signs of strong emotion; sometimes, no sign of emotion altogether, only an empty placidity, the eyes vacant, not even a trace of a smile. The lighting was such there no shadows appeared upon their faces. The women were photographed not as multidimensional human beings, but as icons of supposed beauty. They’d come across as “beautiful,” or “pretty,” or “handsome,” or “desirable,” or any variation on this single aspect of femininity; but rarely did they come across as “thought-provoking,” “hurt,” “funny,” “powerful,” “scary,” "ugly as sin." More often than not, there was no joy in drawing them.
Okay, folks. Who's going to write in with names for all these faces? Here are a few hints. One is a playright, one is a Hollywood megastar, one is an Australian actor who's also done good in Hollywood. One is the greatest prestidigitator in the world, and also a successful character actor. And two are sportsmen caught in a doping scandal. Names, I want names!