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Mindless faces are faces I draw mindlessly and without a plan. They can be exercises to loosen up the fingers, to just relax and listen to an audiobook or to pour a surplus of emotion or thought into. Often, they come to life in wee, meaningful moments in busy times.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

In this blogpost I’m presenting a few faces I drew over the last two weeks when the summer busy-ness in the house was too busy to work on a project and these faces just kept pouring out of my journal.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Often, I paint only part of these characters…even just part of their faces. The eye fills out the rest.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

For the next face I used my favorite stump…a black Faber Castell pencil that I can’t say goodbye to, even though I have 20 big ones in my drawer, waiting to get into action. But these tiny ones that have been in my hands for so long…I keep them all, in a jar…and yet…I won’t let go until I can no longer hold them. Literally! And look at those minuscule indentations! They are marks of my sharpener….

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

The drawing above came with a baffling and unintentional side-effect. When I posted it on social media, people thought I’d drawn the American president, which I hadn’t. In this image I think my character looks a lot less like him, but below you’ll find a work-in-progress image I posted earlier that day that I must admit could provoke some recognition… Well, it also provoked anger, for one person blocked me on facebook for being “tired of my politics”. Isn’t it odd how associations in our minds lead to reactions that seem very disproportionate when considering the intention of the initial action? It’s sad, but as a human being we have no control of the perception of the other, so unless we connect and communicate, misunderstandings are unavoidable.

Isn’t it odd how images work? How much we can put into them or read into them? I sure didn’t mean to draw a president in my mindless faces and still people recognized him. Was it MY subconsciousness drawing traits of him or is it the eye of the beholder seeing him? It’s a question without an answer, but a very interesting matter in any case.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

My daughter read Albert Camus’s The Plague and this week she’s had to wear a mask for the first time. While she was gone, wearing her mask, I drew this. It wasn’t until later that I realized my mind had woven together the information about these facts into the drawing above.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Some people call these faces ‘quirky’. For some reason I didn’t feel that word fitted them, so I went looking for synonyms, to see if I could find a word that would fit them better. I felt that ‘quirky’ had this connotation of being funny, something odd that provokes a laugh or a smile. And I think some of these characters are highly serious, some are stern, even. And others might be a little tender. The synonyms I found were ‘odd’, ‘idiosyncratic’, ‘bizarre’, ‘peculiar’, ‘strange’, ‘unusual’ and ‘weird’. None of them sounds right either. ‘Weird’ sounds a little offensive and I can’t remember having heard ‘idiosyncratic’ used to describe a face.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

So…no, I haven’t found a word that better fits my mindless faces than ‘quirky’. Fortunately Merriam- Webster have a great definition of the word that I like and that makes me feel like the word suits my characters after all. According to them ‘quirky’ means: “unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way”. Now…THAT definition I think my characters would like. Because no matter how odd they may look, all they want, is to reach out and connect.

semi-abstract portrait by Mandy van Goeije

Before I end this post, I want to tell you’ve I’ve renewed the format of my newsletter. I send out 10 things worth sharing weekly. 10 things that have inspired me or play a rol in my process. Although, perhaps this week I won’t make it to 10. It’s a newsletter format like a menu – you can pick from it what you like and leave the rest be. If you are interested, you can sign up here for a weekly 10 that differs in content from my blog!