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I Paint Faces

Slice of my life

By River JoyPublished about a year ago Updated 7 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - January 2023
"Maude" River 2022 oil on canvas

I paint faces strange, alien, colorful, unnerving, beautiful, ugly faces. It started a few years ago, almost like a compulsion. I was uncomfortable, lost, and I wanted to vanish into the background of everyone's story including my own.

"Paul" River 2022 oil and acrylic on canvas

I paint faces, they do not look away at the ugliness, they embrace it. I love them I hate them. I imagine if you put them up in a room it would feel much like I do when forced to make eye contact with anyone other than those to whom I am immensely connected.

"Magnus" River 2021 Ink, colored pencil, and charcoal

There are so many things more interesting to look at when someone is talking. Their passion lies in their hands, their confidence lies in their posture, their caution lies in their mouth, even their joy lies in the way their face wrinkles. Beauty in imperfection.

"Allie" River 2022 Acryllic, Charcoal, and Pastel on canvas

I paint faces, they are a reflection of me, they have scars and stories and texture they are genderless and full of righteous fury. They come to me almost without thought bits and pieces of the way I take in the world. They are my poems of art.

"Fae" River 2022 Watercolor, ink, pastel, glitter

They remind me despite my scars and texture and stories, despite the somewhat unreliable narrator living up there, there is always a soft landing in paint, in words, even in the right set of eyes.

"Aubrey" River 2021 watercolor

Uncomfortable is my default setting, as are my faces.

If I sit in that discomfort I often find it passes, it dissipates into more manageable chunks, it becomes part of the armor I build. I used to be good at building armor, if the armor wasn't enough then I would build a wall, if the wall was not tall enough there was a moat. I was good at building armor. That armor used to be unremovable, now it is unremarkable. Still necessary at times, but less so.

"Elva" River 2022 Oil and acrylic on canvas.

I have softened with my faces, the eyes are even kinder now, and my fury is still righteous but it does not turn me against myself anymore. I have found it useless to turn your fury against yourself, it only causes pain and awkward glances. For I have learned with the growth of the art born of some compulsion to make these things that should make me uncomfortable, I love them. They are part of me, because they are me.

"Annabelle" River 2020 Charcoal and chalk pastel on paper

My journey has been long, though I am young, I think I'm writing this becuase it's a miracle I survived myself. It's a miracle I made it to thirty, it's a miracle I see myself continuing. The mind can be a powerful tool, it can also be a powerful enemy. So I paint faces, each and every strange and unbearable and beautiful thought goes into them. When I can't paint faces I draw circles, soothing and repetitive, a slice of the obsessive person I am underneath all this mess.

"Underground" River 2020 Pen, Ink, Watercolor, thread on paper

I paint faces, for me, for memory, for that feeling of accomplishment and that feeling of discomfort when I look at my own work. It might sound strange, but it's quite inspiring. What makes many people squirm gives me comfort, and I surround myself with much of the same. The same kind of souls that can look at a person at their ugliest and say, it is not too much.

I hope whoever is reading this, whether it's the first day of 2023 or if its sometime down the road. The healing bits are hard, healing pain is still pain. Be kind to yourself. Keep going, you will learn to love the ugly bits, and maybe sometime you may find them kind of beautiful.


About the Creator

River Joy

I make things with paint and words and light. I was once described as an asshole with Mr. Rogers vibes.


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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (20)

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  • mykohlscard3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing.I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.

  • This is really great. Your artwork is beautiful and your words are deep, heartfelt, and meaningful.

  • Cendrine Marrouat7 months ago

    I actually find your pieces extremely well done. They are not ugly at all, quite the contrary. There is something about them that is quite appealing. The accompanying text is very poetic as well. I can relate to what you said. We have to embrace and celebrate who we are. Thank you!

  • Alieu Turay12 months ago

    This is nice

  • Roy Stevens12 months ago

    'I love them. They are part of me, because they are me.' Exactly how I feel about my characters. I like how you express this. I have no idea what constitutes good visual art, but I enjoyed this story and its illustrations.

  • Tom Waltersabout a year ago

    First time coming to your website, I feel very interesting a lot of useful information for me. Thank you so much for the great things shared here, I will always follow what you are doing. Once again thank you very much, I have a website if you are interested please visit the quordle we are always welcome.

  • Official Behlicabout a year ago

    Amazing, might consider starting a business from this?

  • Elsie Garnettabout a year ago

    I don't wear makeup because I feel like I need to cover myself up or because I don't feel confident. I wear makeup because it's fun; it's like painting on my face.

  • Kimabout a year ago

    This is so beautiful. I just read this while eating my lunch in my office and I’m awkwardly wiping away tears. I’m sitting in the discomfort of coworkers potentially thinking I’m crazy. Like you said, I’m letting myself be uncomfortable. It’s not so bad. Thank you 🖤

  • ROCK about a year ago

    Real art comes straight from the heart and depths of our soul. Fabulous!

  • P.A. Wilkinsonabout a year ago

    I love these paintings. Good write up too. The second painting is something I can’t look away from!

  • Testabout a year ago

    Beautiful work! Both the imagery and the story behind them.

  • sleepy draftsabout a year ago

    Beautiful work. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Lexi Bautistaabout a year ago

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank You for simply sharing.

  • Heather Lunsfordabout a year ago

    I like your paintings and your words. "Poems of art" is an amazing turn of phrase. Thank you for the very brave choice of sharing your art.

  • Aphoticabout a year ago

    These paintings are hauntingly beautiful, your words eloquent and relatable. I adore your painting style. This is art in its purest form. Great work!

  • Talia Devoraabout a year ago

    Wow! Your artwork is beyond amazing. I love how your using art to tell your story. Keep up the good work!

  • Testabout a year ago

    This is just divine. Raw and beautiful like your paintings. Hearted, subscribed, tipped...all of the things!

  • Jarae about a year ago

    I love each an every face, do you sell any of these? Your work is amazing

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