Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beauty In The Face Of Age

Having started my art career with portraiture, I'm constantly fascinated by the faces of the people around me...

And seeing faces age and change as people grow older is quite interesting in itself...

It's almost like our lives get written to our features like a computer writing something to a disk...

The old saying goes that the eyes are the windows into the soul, but ironically enough, the eyes themselves are the one thing in our features that stays constant as we age... 

As any portraitist can tell you, the eyes are always drawn the same size and the face grows around it. Which is why our eyes start out looking pretty large in proportion to our face and then smaller when we are in our late childhood and finally, our adult sized eyes are small in comparison to the facial structure around it.
But it's the rest of the face that's really interesting...

The eyes might have 'it'... but the rest of the face tells a story! 
If you frown a lot, you will develop deep lines going from your nose down to the corners of your lips, and they will look different than the wrinkles that you get if you laugh a lot.  (I know they shouldn't as they are in almost the same spot as laugh lines, but there it is.  They look different as an end result!)

Frowners also have wrinkles in the centre of their face just between their eyebrows, which makes them look stern and tightened up like a bowstring ready to shoot...

People that laugh a lot tend to wrinkle differently, more like they are still laughing somehow.  Their faces can be just as wrinkled as the frowners, but the lines have a softness that is hard to quantify.
But if someone is perpetually sad, they seem to still get the frown style of wrinkles, but it's a softer look, like sadness itself... 

There's almost poetry or a different style of beauty in how wrinkles form...

They are actually something that can be quite beautiful, if you are aware of beauty in the form of lines and patterns.

 Not to mention the fact that wrinkles are much like accents around a subject!

 They can sharpen and highlight features, and can truly bring to the forefront beauty that can't be seen in a smooth face.

Over the years, I've drawn hundreds of faces.  The ones I remember aren't young, but older, more defined...  And the more defined the face, the more challenging it is to capture.

But it's not just me, throughout the centuries artists have always been fascinated by the beauty of the older face. There are good reasons for this, an older face is unique. The lines are different in every person, much like a fingerprint, no two people are alike. Because we all have different lives and experiences, our faces age differently.

Sadly, as I look around at our media and culture I see beauty represented as being typified by only the young face...  And I find this pretty strange because of the demographic of our population!

A large proportion of our population now is older as the baby boomers head towards retirement.

That means we have a unique opportunity to celebrate the beauty of aging by changing our cultural definitions of beauty.  Maybe we all need to be artists in some small way so that we can see it.

Just think 'Beauty in the Face of Age'!

Photos and images by Teresa Young:
1.  Playing Dominoes with Fred Ervine,  2. CloseUp-Portrait Of Diehl Children-Nov. 2009,  3. Grief For A Small Boy - Nov. 1997,  4. Eileens Eyes-Nov. 2009,  5. Daryls Frown - Nov. 2009,  6. Eileens Smile-Nov. 2009, 7. Barb McLean-Dec.2009,  8. Unnamed Abstract-Dec.2009,  9. Unnamed Surreal - May 1998.
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SF Girl said...

Lovely post and great title! It speaks to the notion of how we define "beauty" and how we live our lives accordingly, particularly through the vivid eyes of an artist...

I love your line: "It's almost like our lives get written to our features like a computer writing something to a disk..." Surely, this is the essence of what beauty really is and something to be recognized.

I am reminded of what Keats said long ago: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” you can read my post on this here:

Dalifan said...

I agree Nina, feeling that we need to stop and rethink our assumptions instead of being blinded by media and advertising is pretty key to adjusting to reality and living a content existence as we age.

I think I'm just trying to get people to question what we are getting programmed to think by our culture rather than just accepting it... Before it's too late for all of us to think for ourselves and actually change the world to something more sane;-)

Sorry to pontificate here, but it's a pretty potent topic once you start thinking about it.


Tamara said...

Especially love this post Teresa... And I'm vowing to hold a kinder view next time I look in the mirror. Wrinkles really are often quite beautiful.... Just forgot to look at my own that way.

It is a shame that the images the media innundates us with go through all that 'sanitizing' before we see them. Reminds me of a local band I was once a fan of, who ended up putting out a CD. They just had a certain, raw 'something' when they performed that made them much loved - and got them a recording deal. But when I heard them on the radio that had been 'erased' in some 'post-production' process. The music had become empty. Perhaps that's what comes from our air-brushed media... or culture. We don't even realize what we're missing most of the time - how many supposed 'imperfections' have been removed from what was 'real' before it's fed to us... how much of the 'real' beauty - the kind that makes you feel something - is filtered out in the process.

Here's to laugh lines... to the frown and sadness lines too, for that matter!


Dalifan said...

Hi Tamara,

That's a great analogy about the band's music and the radio. And the images we see are very sanitized as it's been revealed from time to time in the news and magazines. Unfortunately, it's a small voice for truth on that score and people don't seem to realize that what they see is often very much a fantasy!

Thanks for commenting!