Older faces have so much to say.
This Indonesian woman, Paini Vert, was forced to be a "comfort woman" for the Japanese during WWII. She is 82 now.
The aging of our faces is largely affected by genetics but they are also a road map for how we've chosen to cope with our lives.
Some cope better than others. Look at the pictures of some of the other women who were forced to be "comfort women" and you'll see what I mean.
The face of Mrs. Rose is pretty important. Up until now, I've only stitched faces of the young such as Your Majesty or Audrey. But Mrs. Rose's face was full of crinkles, laugh lines and character. How to translate that into a face profile that is only 1" tall?
Since I am unsure, I do some research and turn to artists who have mastered the art of capturing the older face.
The dolls below are by artist Annie Wahl and I have always loved their charm and her ability to express joy within the exaggerated features of an older face...
Yet her medium is wax (these are resin replicas) not fabric, so I move on...
I turned to another artist whose work I have always admired, Deidre Scherer.
Deidre is a master of textile portraiture, often exploring the fragility of life. With fabric and thread, she has the gift of translating the miracle of all life, even life that is waning. I have had the good fortune of seeing her exhibition, The Last Year, where she chronicled the last year of a woman's life. It's soulful and moving...and for anyone who has traveled with a loved one through this last phase of life on earth, you will recognize the stages. Surrounded by Family is another one of her series that is so beautiful that it hurts. (If you do go visit, remember to click to enlarge to see the detail of her work.)
I leave my study of Deidre's work understanding the importance of shadow, contrast, and value changes in the older face and move to another master whose work is three-dimensional rather than two.
Lisa Lichtenfels is a soft-sculpture artist whose ability to capture the human form using needle and thread is beyond compare.
Her work is so good that her images are often mistaken for photographs of real people. She uses nylon and batting to sculpt her faces, having first built an armature of wire for bones covered by "muscles" made from batting.
Have a look through the photo galleries of her work...here, here and here. Amazing.
Though her work is life-size, I am still inspired by her to re-create some realism in my little 1" face and think that layered nylons is likely to allow for more detail in such a small space rather than fabric.
In translating to a smaller scale, I have already learned that fewer stitches are better. Our minds recognize facial features so well that we will often fill in feature details when they are suggested rather than stitched.
Lastly, I turned to this book hoping to find a few ideas: Embroidered Portraits: Ideas, Inspiration and Techniques. I had seen on it Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread blog, you can read her review of the book here.
Though Mary had expected more strictly embroidered portraits like the title and cover suggests, I was actually delighted that there were so many ideas for softly sculpted and appliqued faces.
And a whole two pages on heads in profile! Just what I needed.
Now I'm off to buy some Mrs. Rose-colored nylons and start stitching, keeping in mind the advice given to me by Allie Aller when I feared the stitching of the queen's face on Your Majesty...
She recommended that I plan to make many faces. So I did. I prepped for four or five faces and chose the best of the lot...What a brilliant idea. It completely takes the pressure off of making just one and then you get a number of different "expressions" to choose from. It is kind of funny though, when I open up a drawer and see the rejected faces of the wanna-be queens...I mean, I can't just throw them away...that seems kind of cruel. And so they remain, ladies in waiting.
Bottom line...plan on making multiples...this has been some of the best advice I've ever had. Thank you Allie.
I'm off to put my best face forward sans botox. Happy day to you.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Older faces have so much to say.