The first thing that comes to mind is a picture I saw of
Slick's doll collection. Vintage dolls all sitting in a mob on a
sofa by a window draped in shadowed lace.
I think of the posters of the first make of "Children of the Village
of the Damned" the lack of emotion on those children's face is
If you get in on an elevator and there's someone there already
what's the signal to you that they are ok?
eye contact, not too long
a head nod
maybe a half smile
Female to male transexuals say they have to learn "not to smile at
strangers in passing". Oh women smile more than men? Interesting.
In Japan where smiling or showing emotion in general isn't
encouraged, women use more syllables than men do to say the same
thing. Men who chatter are considered weak, lacking self control.
Silence is golden, stillness is special, empty space is a luxury.
Well all that makes sense when you think of Japan as being the space
of California with half of the population of all of America. I guess
being polite, quite and still, in a big empty space would be all hip.
In the video set THE FACE that we have up for borrowing, John
Cleese speaks on why there is road rage and not sidewalk rage.
If we're crossing the street and it's crowded, our near misses can
be instantly smoothed over with eye contact, a smile, a shrug or in
my case I sing out happily "Shall we Dance?" Always gets a laugh.
Facial expression gives people an indication of what your intentions
are. Cultures allow different expression to mean different
things. Smiles can mask discomfort in Japan. And a big smile behind a
veil isn't going to show much if that smile doesn't reach the eyes.
These 6 faces were made with the same mold. One of my Kai Face Molds
(real name is Michael McManus, Canadian Actor). The face mold was
made with no emotional expression. When I change the face to smile,
to look in different directions, or to cut the face at an angle to
make like it's looking over its shoulder and not smiling which makes
it look threatened or threatening...
These are samples of how you can take an expressionless face and
give it emotional impact.
Those are the 9 basic emotional expressions that can be recognized
through all cultures. It would stand to reason that these feelings
are universal around the world as well.
If I were in another country, didn't know the language, was at the
local market, pointed to a loaf of bread with INTEREST I believe the
shop keeper will know what I need.
Those who study such things say there are MICRO EXPRESSIONS that
give away true feelings, the split second wrinkling of the nose,
it's on THE FACE tapes if you want to know more.
What I also want to bring up in all this is how we make our
emotional face effects us INSIDE physically. If you make a face of
Contempt towards another HURTS that person physically.
Smiling or laughing even when you don't feel like it tricks the body
chemistry to feel better. THE FACE tape covers "Laughing Centers" in
India, where folks meet to laugh a half an hour at the start of
Even when you are faking a smile or a laugh, if there's a
hundred people there going "He he he, ha ha ha, ho ho ho." you'll
start laughing for real.
As a child I had a house hold full of siblings: whole, half and step
siblings. We had this game we would do if someone was really bummed
out and that was to lay on the floor, each person laying their heads
on the tummy of the person before them. You get this zig zag of
bodies, heads on tummies.
The first person says "Ha"
The second person says "Ha Ha"
The third person says "Ha Ha Ha"
there were 6 of us, before we got to 6 Ha we were all giggling and
rolling away for tummies bounce heads when there's a HA in the
house. By three Ha's heads were bouncing with laughter held back. If
someone laughed until they farted all the better.
I don't think my Mom ever figured it out how we could go from being
bummed and sulky to rolling around the floor laughing like loons.
What we learned was our forced laughter brought on real laughter.
Real laughter made us feel better. That was our goal and how it
worked didn't make much never no mind to us.
Ok, what's the point? Facial expressions from others effect our body
chemistry. Our own facial expressions effect other people as well as
effect our own body chemistry. Now what do you want your sculpted
figures to do to the viewer?
Do you want to draw the viewer to your sculpted figure or repel the
viewer? What sort of change in brain and body chemistry do you want
to effect in the viewer?
When I made The Nursing Mother it was a celebration and homage to
motherhood. I didn't know who it was that I was sculpting, just felt
the right thing to do. People said, "Isn't her nose a bit big?" and
I was undaunted for this nose was right for this Nursing Mommy. It
wasn't until later that I realized I had subconsciously made a
likeness of a friend of my employer. A soon to be New Mommy and a
beautiful Jewish woman with a great nose. I gave the sculpture to
her. Her family and friends had wondered if she had it commissioned.
It always gets comment for it looks like Sammy. I was following my
muse, not knowing or caring where the inspiration came from but just
delighting in the process.
That delight touches folks to this day. I asked Sammy recently how
is The Nursing Mommy sculpture? She said, "Everyone loves her. Says
she looks like me. I love her so much."
I think that the smile on the Mommy, almost hidden from view with
her face turned to her baby, is what people stoop to peek at. That
smile makes them smile. It still makes me smile to this day.
So what's the point of all this? First we study how to sculpt faces.
Then we work on making those faces have some sort of emotional
expression that will capture the viewer and draw them in, change
their brain chemistry. It becomes a real experience to them, as it
was for you when you made it. That's what art is all about, evoking
a reaction. So what sort of reaction do you want your art to make?