The Stories in a Face

I find people’s faces endlessly fascinating. A face doesn’t have to be beautiful to be memorable. Sometimes it is the imperfections in a face which give it it’s character.

But what is really fascinating is the way that a face tells the story of it’s journey through life. A child’s face is often almost like a blank page – not in it’s emptiness, but in it’s sense of potential. I like being able to see in a child’s face what they might look like as an adult. But the other thing about a child’s face is how readily a smile and a laugh comes to it. that is one of the great joys of working with children – that natural enjoyment of life is there from the very beginning in most children.

Toby, at the age of 1.

But then as the body grows older to which the face is attached, and begins to learn that life is not always something which we can smile through, there is a sense of knowing, of what they would have called a loss of innocence in older days.


But this journey has to be taken. Faces have to begin to find different expressions – grief. Anger. Uncertainty.

But then, towards the end of the journey, faces begin to show the effects of their particular journey more and more. And it’s here, in the collection of wrinkles and liver-spots, that suddenly one thing can become clear. A life that has been lived well, and by that I mean with integrity, with love, with the discovery of joy along the way, shines out. Open faces on the elderly point to a life lived in the open. And I find the faces of older people especially interesting as an artist. The wrinkles are fascinating, of course, but the eyes are what tell the real story. They tell the stories of the hardships experienced, of obstacles overcome, of love gained and love lost.


This lady I have called Sophia. No idea what her name really is/was. But her eyes tell a story of a long life of experience, with perhaps some disillusionment with the way the world has turned out for her. Sophia is Greek for Wisdom. Wisdom I suspect has its own cost, and takes its own toll on a human being.


And this lady, whom I gave some money to when she was begging on the streets of Madeira, has a quiet acceptance about her. What fate has brought her to this, begging on the steps? But this is her life, and she accepts it.

Faces are the way we are seen. They are the way other people experience us. I hope, as i grow older, that my face reflects a life well-lived, a life of truth, love, of joy. There will be times when tears will spill down my cheeks. That is part of the human condition. But may my wrinkles be etched into my face by too much laughter, not by too much care.

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