Elvira B. Head, 72, an artist and retired teacher of home economics, died Thursday at the Iliff Nursing Home in Dunn Loring, Va., which she entered a month ago. She had cancer.

Mrs. Head, who had lived in Falls Church from 1963 to 1973 and then moved to Salem Ore., had returned to Falls Church last November.

She was born in Omaha and grew up in Eugene, Ore. She graduated from the University of Oregon and took graduate work in home economics at Oregon State University. She later earned a master's degree from Columbia University.

She had taught home economicss at the high school level and at Stephens College in Missouri and Oregon State University. She also had studied painting, sculpture and fashion and fabric design at the University of Oregon under a Carnegie art fellowship.

As an artist, Mrs. Head worked mainly in oils and water colors. In 1946, she married J. Al Head, a traffic and safety engineer. They came here in 1963, when he joined the Department of Transportation. He died in 1969.

Mrs. Head has been active in the First Christian Church of Falls Church and the First Christian Church of Salem, Ore.

She is survived by two daughters, Diane Fischer and Kathy Allen, both of Falls Church, and four grandchildren.