Friday, January 06, 2017

Favorite Art Books Part 7

Last fall when I was working on emotional faces I spent a good deal of time dipping into Gary Faigin's "Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression," which has been in my library nearly 20 years. In spite of its age, this book continues to be a really useful tool. When I first read the book perhaps 20 years ago, the depth and erudition involved in producing such a volume surprised me. As someone who knows anatomy in a systematic, scientific way, having an artist outline the actual functions of facial muscles I had learned was eye-opening. Mr. Faigin clearly did enormous amounts of study and work in order to produce this book, and it has deservedly remained a classic since its first publication in the late 20th century.

Besides delineating the anatomy of facial musculature and bones, he provides his own drawings as examples of the function of each. Faigin's drawings are exceptional in providing precise examples of various expressions and muscle movements. Once he has gone through the muscles and their anatomy, he brings the information together in the latter chapters to discuss the six basic human expressions and how they are formed by the various muscles.

Mr. Faigin has considerable talent with charcoal, which seems to be his favorite drawing medium. The book is thorough and clearly written, the accompanying drawings well-executed and useful as references as well as illustration. I've kept this book handy while studying expressions. Highly recommended.

Gary Faigin, Six Basic Expressions (from Guide to Facial Expression)
Gary Faigin, "Self Portrait," charcoal, 2014

I have the first edition (1990) but there is a newer one available from online sources and probably in bookstores that I've no information about. Incidentally, Gary Faigin has also made videos that are available variously either free on YouTube or for a fee online.

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