Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Self-Portrait in Oils, day 16

Today’s work was the face once more. I had intended to get to the top layer of paint, but a few factors got in the way.

Close-up for facial features, showing nose completed, mouth and eyes nearly so. The day’s work was both satisfying and frustrating, because it was good but not perfect. I went from large tonal areas on the cheeks and forehead to tiny details of angle and bulge on the nose. The nose was one of the high points of the day. Moving the mouth and realising afterwards that I had not moved it far enough was rather a low point, but as I had already used the wrong colours for it on purpose, I was going to have to paint over it anyhow. The photograph had the upper lip thinned out, and I needed to paint it a little thicker, which needed practice. I chose to practice on the canvas, where I would already have the correct colours on the face. I did it in a plum colour rather than a crimson-yellow mix so that I could concentrate on the shapes and not on the fact it was lips.

Close-up of artist's face framed by green cloth held in place by hands.The other big moment was the realisation that a shadow was not purple, but green. Just in front of the angle of the jaw, the skin reflects the towel. Blending green reflections into a yellow-pink cheek was half an hour’s work.

I was having a bit of trouble with the angle of the lips, because the vanishing point with the line running through the pupil was wrong. It was not until I got home and used software that I worked out this was because the pupil itself was in the wrong place – the eye closer to the viewer needs to be repainted, which sounds annoying, but is a minor matter, in some regards. The slowest part of the work, the measuring, has already been done. It is just a case of painting by numbers once more.* Most of the day’s work will appear on the upper layer of the painting, which is pleasing. Bits may be tweaked, and the finish is still a distance away, but I am starting to be able to see it from where I am. I failed to take a good overview picture, but the general look of the painting pleases me.

*A very very complicated case, with no actual numbers.