Faces, No. 1


Yesterday, while flipping through my eight hundred flickr favorites and counting, I realized that more than half of my saves are photos of faces.  The photos are a sample from various cultures and colors and species—smooth faces, scruffy faces, sweet faces, dirty faces, old faces, growing-old faces.  The common thread is that all of the faces proclaim, “I am here!

(This is a good time to pause and give a shout-out to the mad-talented and generous flickr photographers who share their work under Creative Commons licensing, providing the beautiful images that partner with my written posts. Thanks shutterbugs!)

I studied a few of the photographs, attempting to alchemize matte feeling into sparkly written word.  No such luck.  I float about in clouds of ideas, lovely mists all about, but I lack something solid for transfer to the page.  My writing lacks specificity and I want to improve.  I came up with an exercise to free-write a list of words describing the photograph, attempting to zoom in and to focus, to see the outline and the nucleus of the amoeba, instead of just a blurry splat. It was hard.

I want to loosen my corset of perfection, to collect enough courage to possibly perform poorly, to fail if need be.  Holding my hand through all of this are the works of writer and artist teacher/advocate, Julia Cameron:

Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse…Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.

And so, with that gentle push, I introduce the Faces series.  I will post a photograph of a face and then practice writing descriptors of that image—adjectives, nouns, verbs, even that ol’ maligned adverb, are welcome.  No constraints.  And, dear Reader, I welcome your input too!

Malawi, old Chewa woman” by Dietmar Temps is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.