Showing posts with label faces. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faces. Show all posts

Saturday, April 08, 2017


Every art school used to have a huge collection of white plaster casts. Some still do. White allowed the student to see shadows more clearly and shadows are a lot of what pulls a composition together and suggests drama.

I'm writing this to suggest that we expand that collection a little bit to include a few colored mannequin heads. Mannequins don't have the same educational value as classical busts but the best ones are nice and cartoony and are often a good way to drive home a few basic lessons about what to emphasize on a face.  What are those lessons? Read on.

Most of the old flapper-era female mannequins favored clear, sharp, Catherine Hepburn-type chins.

Real women on the other hand, often had weak chins, and would probably have preferred to emphasize their eyes. That wasn't so easy to do. According to an article I read the older kinds of eye makeup had problems with dry spatter and required constant touch ups. More about eyes later. 

Back to sharp chins. They show to best advantage when the head is tilted back. That reinforces the haughty, aristocratic image that fashion likes to convey.

 Somewhere along the line a long, vertical mannequin faces were introduced. I think of it as a modified Asiatic look but you can find African masks that look a bit like that.

 The sharp chin never went out of style, though. It got new life when it was combined with the forward-thrusting muzzle. Here the whole bottom half of the face is pushed out. It's a very cartoony look.

For a while bulbous foreheads were in. How that started I can't even guess.

The big game changer was the invention of non-spatter eye make-up.  That changed everything. It allowed for an emphasis on the eyes rather than the chin and that led the mannequin makers to tilt the head down.

Thin faces give greater eye emphasis so the wall-eyed, wide-angle, thin look took over.

Mens mannequins were less influenced by beauty products. About the only major face product change in my lifetime was the use of shampoo to replace bar soap in the washing of mens' hair. Shampoo made straight hair possible and wavy hair models disappeared. Chin emphasis persisted, though.

We men also liked the ultra-manly J. C. Leyendecker look. Later came the Arnold Schwarzenegger look.

The Arnold look receded and the nice guy next door look (above) took over. That was followed by the Urban Hipster look, which is what we have now.

I'll end with the observation that the hippies were never represented in the mannequin world. They had disdain for fashion and the fashion world retaliated by snubbing them. Fascinating, eh?

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Here's a terrific short film I just discovered on David Cairns' site, "Shadowplay." It's called "Daisy Doodad's Dial," and it's a hundred years old. "Dial" is English slang for face.

That face belongs to Florence Turner, an American actress who, at the peak of her popularity, moved to England.

I think she wrote and directed the film.

I read that Turner got good reviews for a 1911 film called "Jealousy" where she was the sole actor, and appeared in every scene. The film is sadly lost now.

And here's the entire short.

P.S. The film doesn't consist of close-ups on Turner' face. It's a short story. Go ahead...try it. You'll like it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I had had cataract surgery yesterday and I'm recovering at home. Wow! I highly recommend this if you're in need of it. The world is so much more colorful than it appeared only a couple of days ago. I look around and the impression I get is that I'm in Paradise or The Garden of Eden. Everything is so deliciously clean and bright!

Since I'm temporarily stuck in the house and haven't the clarity of vision to read much I amuse myself by going to Google Images and looking up funny faces.

What do you think of these?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


This woman could be Natasha in a live action "Rocky and Bullwinkle." I wish more  people who are lucky enough to have character faces would take acting lessons and create a stage persona for themselves. Hollywood desperately needs funny character actors. So does amateur theatre.

My advice to this woman is, start cultivating an East European accent. Take elocution lessons and learn stage movement.

Here's (above) an interesting figure. The girl is obviously overweight but she uses the weight to make a humorous statement, or she could if she had stage aspirations. I like her aggressive confidence and the contrast made by the light, flimsy dress. I picture her as the nagging wife of a skinny, repressed man with a bow tie...

....someone like Don Knotts. She should take acting lessons. 

I wish some girl who yearns to do physical comedy would learn how to do backward-leaning walks. You can cheat it so your weight looks unsupported even though it is supported. It must be hard, though. If you look close, the only girl who can pull it off in the dance above is the one near the middle with dark shorts.

After she finishes the walk she could stay bent back. Maybe she's at a cocktail party and she walks up to a couple and casually talks to them while in this position.

There's some of that feel in the first minute of Fosse's "Rich Man's Frug." I'll have to revise my earlier lukewarm review of this dance. The first two minutes of this video are great.

This woman's neck is concealed under all the fluff she's wearing, making it appear that she has no neck. It's not a flattering look but it is funny, and funny is bankable if you can be funny on film. You could build a character around a woman who dresses like this. Imagine Madeline Kahn wearing that wig and these clothes.

Wow! This woman is a born witch! For the stage, I mean. This is why we need more amateur theatre. Right now there's no outlet for good faces like this. Of course you'd have to write her part so it's custom-made to fit whatever assets she brings to the table. Amateurs can be great but you can't hand them one-size-fits-all scripts.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I'll start with Cesare Borgia (above), a violent psychopath whose senseless wars of conquest helped to undermine the Italian Renaissance. Orson Welles played him in a film called "Prince of Foxes" which I highly recommend. 

His was an interesting face, no? Some contemprary painters patterend their depictions of Christ on him. 

Here's Caligula, the mad young Roman emperor. The sculptor made him look crazy, which must have been a dangerous thing to do.

How about Genghis Khan (above)? He waged brutal, senseless war just to enhance his own reputation.

Then there's the mass murderer, Stalin, shown here in the days when he was a young thug.

Here's (above) Ivan the Terrible, a man who was aptly named. He was an evil man but I cut him a little slack because at great cost he stood up to the Mongol invasion and thus bought time for Europe to achieve a new Golden Age.

Then there was Mao, apparently the greatest mass murderer of the 20th Century, stacking up a body count that exceeded even that of Hitler and Stalin. Read about what went on when he tried to enforce his "Great Leap Forward."

By the way, Hitler certainly deserves a high place in this rogues gallery but I left him out because I couldn't find a suitable picture. Every photo of him has already been seen a gazillion times.

Not so frequently seen is this recent reconstruction of the head of Robespierre, architect of the French Revolution's "Reign of Terror." I always pictured him as having a thin, angular face, but I guess I was wrong.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


I have a file of pretty faces that I add to once in a while. Looking at them just makes me feel good. See if you feel the same way.

Geez, this (above) is one of the sharpest photos I've ever seen on the net. I'd like to see the camera it was taken with.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Most female expressions are the same as men's (above). Nothing mysterious here, just the same expressions of joy and sadness that men have, only on a smoother, sexier, more easy to read surface.

But hold on...there's some expressions that don't get on charts like this. We all know that some expressions are unique to women, so unique in fact, that men have difficulty understanding them. Let's take a look at a few.........

 Okay, this expression for example....what the heck does it mean? My best guess is that it's saying, "I don't know whether I'm attracted to you or not, but here's a low intensity sexy look to keep you interested while I make up my mind."

Or this one (above). Is that a neutral expression? Is she irritated? Is she murderous? Is she daydreaming? She doesn't seem ecstatically happy, but that's about the best I can say.

What is this woman (above) saying? I feel silly for asking since she's obviously striking a model's pose and not trying to convey a real emotion...yet there is something else going on there, I just can't figure it out.

 Here's a girl (above) who's shocked by something unpleasant that she's just seen. The basic emotion is easy to read...what makes it noteworthy is that a secondary emotion seems seems to be overlayed on it. Taken all together she seems to be saying, "Oh, my God! My neighbor's been chopped up with an axe...and, er... doesn't my horrified expression look pretty?"

Man, you gotta feel sorry for women. They're what Norman Mailer called "prisoners of sex." They're doomed to be constant spectators on their own exterior lives. It's nice to be a guy, where you can tune out that self-awareness sometimes, and just relax.

How about this picture of a friend taken when she was a teenager? It's charming and doubly interesting when you realize that no man except Robert Pattinson would ever strike a pose like that. It's a girl thing. There's nothing wrong with that; actually I like the idea that girls have their own expressions. It's just interesting that expressions can be gender specific.

By the way, some girls have their own dialects too. In the late twenties and early thirties it was what we would call today, "Telephone Operator." Today it's "Valley Girl." Girls have their own textiles, color palettes, glasses, bottled water, cigarettes, recipes, candy, philosophy, books, cable channels, movies...even their own pencils and pens.....even their own science. It's a different culture.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Everybody loves a beautiful face, but be honest...don't you love pretty faces (above) more?

Pretty isn't quite as mathematically perfect as beautiful, and it may be a bit nerdy, but it's more likely to include friendliness and character. 

Beautiful is for magazine covers and the movies. Pretty is accessible. It's what you find in the real world if you're lucky.

Some women (above) straddle the line between pretty and beautiful. That's okay, I'll accept them as honorary pretty types. 

Pretty entitles the possessor to giggle and be fun to be with.

Of course pretty women can have flaws just like anyone else. I'll bet the pretty girl above has a depressive disorder.

Here's (above) a pretty woman that strikes me as positively dangerous. Men would be well advised to walk the other way, but it would take an exceptional man to do that.