Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Self-Portrait in Oils, day 2

Today, I finished what I thought would be an under-drawing, in graphite, on canvas. It was very important to me to do it slowly and carefully, to embed it in my memory, so I understood my face shape. For that reason, I did it by squaring up, without a projector or any measuring tools other than the straight edge I used to put lines on the canvas. What I had, in the end, looked something like this:
Facial detail showing pensive expression The expression had been cleared up slightly, and the problems of perspective had been dealt with, using a rubber and the application of a lot of irritation to the subject. The positioning of the far eye had been suspect all along.

Looking at this, what you can see in it is tone. If you desaturate a colour, taking all the RGB details out of it, what you are left with is its tone. A white ball has greyish shadows, which is how we can tell it is not a white circle, even given a lack of markings. The tone on this painting is delicate, firm, and utterly useless for an underpainting. My tutor took me out to buy another canvas, and I will be starting the painting process on something blank, using that picture as a reference. On the plus side, I will now not be destroying it before I can get a decent photograph of it.

The pencil work was definitely worthwhile as a learning experience, and I now understand the form of my face far better than I did before I started on it, but I was setting out to use the wrong tools for the job. Next week I start on quick one-day colour examinations of myself, possibly on the same canvas, possibly on multiple small ones. This week, I get to go home and show my appreciation for relaxation by not drawing anything. Except my daily sketch for the flickr feed. Oh, and some lions for the small child that isn’t the one who likes to dress up as a penguin.