Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Self-Portrait in Oils, day 19

More fun with NMM

Today was more of the watch and ring combination. If there had been any other areas that required a greyish scale of tones I would have done those at the same time, but it was only the metallics that needed to be painted. Non-metallic paint can be used to represent both shadow and shine without flatness, as previously discussed on this very blog. A glossy surface reflects things more coherently than a matte one, in the same way that a plane will reflect a single image better than a relief surface will. It is the same thing, with only a difference in size.

Close-up of watch with bimetallic strap. If you recall the last time I painted this area, I left strong dark lines to indicate the deepest points of shadows, and the gold parts in the centre were grey, to indicate where they were different from the surrounding steel. The process is one of define-then-refine, so I do not have to create a new object as I put in the details. This picture shows the next stage, before the final highlights are put on. There is now a good mix of form and detail, without the jarring black shadows. The watch is not part of the final focus of the painting, but adds interest to the arm, and is the closest non-person object to the viewer, so it had to have a balance of definition and subtlety.

I did the same thing to the rings, although in their case I knew they would have to have relatively sharp edges. being so small, they have to have clarity of form, or else they would be hard to look at:

Close-up of metallic ring made with different shades of grey and a a little ochre. I did this by painting them slightly wider than they should be. I will then paint over them with the edge of the skin tones. My engagement ring is ridiculously thin, as it is made of platinum. It is considerably stronger than gold, and I still used to bend it out of shape. The wedding ring now protects it, but the bottom of the ring is thinner than a rubber band stretched out very thin indeed.*

As the last thing for the day, I painted up the clasp on the pearl bracelet, which is still not formed to my satisfaction, but at least it has highlights now. I will find out how it looks when the pearls are painted up. Sometimes the human brain adds in details, and with something in the background and out of the focal points I cannot afford to define it too well. It has to be suggested rather than laid out.

And the sum of the parts. Click to see a larger version:

self-portrait. Artist is in a white-grey T-shirt and rubbing hair dry with a green towel, facing to left of canvas.

* Image brought to you by the fact I have rubber bands on my desk. Damn the post office for their bright red ones. Gotta collect ’em all!