She’s Got a Face for Art Journaling

The idea of drawing a face intimidates many artists. If you want to create a true-to-life portrait of someone and you don’t have much formal training, I can see how you would feel that way. But if you’re drawing or painting a face to please yourself, for example in your art journal, then that is a different story. Because, really, who’s to say what that face should look like? So take your artistic license and give it a go.

whimsical face by jane davenport
One of Jane Davenport’s whimsical faces from her art journal.

Artist Jane Davenport specializes in what she calls “whimsical faces.” They are more or less realistic, but they are also fanciful. The complexions are gorgeously rosy. The lips are perfectly pouty. The hair surrounding these faces flows and curls like it does in your dreams.

Jane says her art journal is a fantasyland where she goes to play and dream. She creates her whimsical faces by blending artistic principles with a loose touch and acceptance of imperfection.

Here are some tips from her new Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop, Whimsical Faces.

  • With pencil in hand, make a circular motion in the air to get a sense of what shape face you’d like to draw. Jane prefers to use artist colored pencils instead of graphite for drawing as they don’t muddy the work when you add paint.
  • When you’ve decided on a shape (round, oval, elongated, etc.) loosely draw the shape onto your journal page.
  • Find a chin point and crown point, and draw a line between them. Then bisect that line horizontally at its midpoint. The eyes go on this horizontal line. Draw a short horizontal line halfway between the mid point and the chin and then another between the chin and that point for the mouth.
  • Make the ovals for the eyes. When you draw the iris, make sure it is perfectly round by using a template with various-sized circles on it. But make sure the entire iris doesn’t show; the eyelid should cover the top of it.
  • To make the other features more whimsical, exaggerate them slightly. For example, the mouth should might have the pointed, pouty look of a model’s.
  • Keep the hair loose and flowing. To achieve a light, loose touch, Jane often holds the pencil at the end, farthest away from the point.

Watching Jane’s workshop video, I was intrigued by how she used paint almost like a make-up artist and how she filled in the backgrounds of her creative journals with colorful patterned napkins.

You may want the faces in your art journal (or on your canvas) to look another way: spritely, mysterious, quirky, or childlike. I suggest you try some of Jane’s facial art journaling techniques from Whimsical Faces, and see where it takes you.

P.S. Do you include faces in your art journal? Why or why not?


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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