I always ponder my attraction to painting faces. Even if I start an abstract piece, I always see a face in it eventually. So what is the point in fighting it. I see the face as the expression of human emotion, and emotion is what I really want to paint. I found this writing about the human face, which answered my question – The human face is an artistic achievement. On such a small surface an incredible variety and intensity of presence can be expressed. This breath of presence overflows the limitation of the physical form. No two faces are exactly the same. There is always a special variation of presence in each one. Each face is a particular intensity of human presence.
The human face is the subtle, yet visual autobiography of each person. Regardless of how hidden the inner story of our life is, you can never successfully hide from the world while you have a face. If we knew how to read the faces of others, we would be able to decipher the mysteries of their life stories. The face always reveals the soul. It is where the divinity of the inner life finds an echo and image. When you behold someone’s face, you are gazing deeply into the persons life.
The human face carries mystery and is the exposure point of the mystery of the individual life. It is where the private, inner world of a person protrudes into the the anonymous world. It is the meeting place of two unknowns, the infinity of the outer world and the unchartered, inner world to which each individual alone has access. This is the night world that lies behind the brightness of the visage. The smile on the face is a surprise or illumination. When the smile crosses the face , it is as if the inner night of the hidden world brightens suddenly. Heidegger said very beautiful that we are the custodians of deep and ancient thresholds. (excerpts from Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue)