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March 26, 2012 / alice

what’s in a face?

i’ve been away…. and what a hiatus it’s been. one thought has moved consistently with me from school, to lesson planning, to Yosemite, to Mexico and has followed me back home as i sit down to write my first post in a few weeks.

facial expressions seem artistically illusive and intellectually perplexing lately. i normally think of myself as someone who reads others well. conversely, i am also known to wear my heart on my sleeve as i am completely unable hide any of my emotions. the more i have read and studied facial expression though the more complex it has seemed to get.

before i left, i did sketch after sketch of facial expressions as a study for an art piece. the piece focuses on the faces of four individuals and i want each face to express true emotion.  i posted an image of it here in my last post.

on vacation i somehow brought malcom gladwell’s book Blink rather than the fictional, all enveloping novel i was hoping to read. (i enjoyed reading Blink and there were many takeaways from it- but this post isn’t a review). one of the segments that stood out the most to me was the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). The name basically explains itself. it is a very technical and specific way of coding the way we interpret and express emotions through even the smallest movements of the facial muscles. now before i lose you…. this captured my attention and directly played into my desire to represent realistic facial expressions in my art and communicate them to the viewer.

 this led me to wonder what the inventors of the FACS would say about the Mona Lisa?

or any of the other famous pieces of art that leave the viewer longing for more information about the subject portrayed in works like these.


i chose Girl With the Pearl Earring & American Gothic because they are some of the most recognizable art images. The last one is a close up of one of my art pieces. i love how simple and expressive her face looks.

currently, i am creating a lesson plan for a guest appearance in a 4th grade classroom where they are learning about jazz music. so i am creating a lesson plan that incorporates emotion, music and color. i am exploring ways for the participants to express their emotions by using facial expressions in their art pieces.

i remembered i have this book in my resource library. a vintage children’s dictionary given to a little boy named Jeff in 1977!

i am eager to do a project wit these little cut out images from the dictionary and still debating whether to use them all together or how i can create mini art pieces out of each one. i have so many ideas and trying to decide what to do next…..

at this moment i am seeing how i am in the middle of the tunnel before an artistic break though and simultaneously seeing my lifelong journey of  decoding facial expressions.

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  1. Wendt / Mar 26 2012 11:06 pm

    I keep writing comments that are too personal and motherly.
    I will just leave it at ” creative high”

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