Faces, faces, faces. I like to draw them. It’s the obvious thing—ubiquitous, expressive. Everyone has one, and every one is different.
In a sense, they’re easy to draw. You just get the parts down in more or less the right places and, pow, it’s a face. Human visual interpretation and recognition is such a powerful tool that a very rough face is still a face, and a mediocre or abstract face with just one perfect detail can suffice as caricature.
But they’re hard. All those devils—those details—that stand out under scrutiny. I never took any lifedrawing classes, and I grew up cripplingly shy, so I didn’t so much study faces as steal glances at them. I find I don’t have a well-developed intuitive sense of facial structure when it comes to drawing freehand. Scales get off, proportions come out wonkey. I’ve said before that eyes are hard; in fact, everything else is hard too.
I’ve taken to doing preliminary sketches, hoping that will help somewhat. There’s some comforting freedom in doing loose, messy, scratchy gestural work like that: line bad or wrong? Rework it with a few more loops or passes until it’s about where it ought to be. Neat!
I had a job once where I did a lot of little face doodles over time. I’d draw a face one day, a couple the next, maybe a week would go by with nothing and then I’d do five in one day. Over the period of several months I ended up pinning a few hundred small face doodles to my cubicle wall, and if someone dropped by they would see my flesh and blood face looking up at them while behind me several hundred pairs of eyes watched us or glanced elsewhere. I get the impression it was sort of surreal, but I lived with the faces every day and so never gave it a second thought.