I always struggled with drawing faces. And I've always looked for ways of avoiding them.
I think I always drew but I at some point when I was pretty tiny I started making comics. Because faces were so hard I made up a sort of creature that would be the characters that had very simple body shapes. The comics were usually about a cast of characters called things like the Reader (Leitora), the Vain (? Vaidosa), the Lucky (Sortudo, guy), Grandma, etc. The main character was the Leitora.. a girl. All vaguely cute and embarrassing.
They looked more or less like this. It was important to have some versality, ie be able to draw lots of different outfits.
A few years later I was more comfortable drawing bodies so I created the Formigas (ants). These guys had much more bendable bodies, more joints. These stories were mostly re-tellings of my own life. Like a day at the beach, or that time I went to Fatima. All of these were really centered on step by step descriptions. Like, put on clothes, eat breakfast, go in car, get some place, etc. I will dig up pictures of some of this at some point.
Years after that I discovered super hero comics and started drawing compulsively. Suddenly school became this awesome amount of time where I could fill all my notebooks with drawings. It was such a marked transition that I remember my History teacher telling me, "I understand that you have just discovered this and it's great. But it's going to stop. During class you gave to pay attention." This memory allows me to pinpoint this: it was in 4th grade. It didn't stop. It was mostly superheroes: flying, jumping, zapping things, very dramatic. Now they were human bodies but without heads. Heads were still hard, I didn't know how to do it, and drawing bodies was amazing. Like its own special power, there was so much to explore. I was so comfortable with this decision I would even draw empty neck sockets.
This was not at all drawn by me. It was drawn by Joe Madureira for a comic called Astonishing X-Men, back in the 90's. This was a drawing that so compelled me I drew it over and over. I'm fairly certain it was part of that catalytic moment when I started drawing all the time. I'm sure that remnants of Madureira's style are still part of how I draw.. especially hands and feet. Which are a favorite subject. Maybe because of him.
More years pass, already in college, trying to pass for an artist, I still didn't want to paint faces. I found all kinds of great reasons not to do it, much better articulated. I still like some of these reasons. Mostly that we are hardwired to pay a lot of attention to faces. A face in a painting is very distracting. Who is the person? Why are they in the piece? I like to find emotional expression in the body language instead of the face - the hands are the faces, the curve of the back is the face - I still really like that.
This is probably the best example. "That hand is the face" I would say, and sometimes still do.
(This is a panel from the painting The bud, the pot and the spider)
BUT. The paintings I've been working on now really need faces - worse yet, similar faces (the same person appears multiple times, to express multiple states of mind). So. I've been trying to deal with it:
Face from the new series... still looks kind of funny but I was happy with that nose. Check out that double highlight! Does not look like the model tho.
Another study, another step: this face is TALKING!