Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Portrait of A*.

Pencil study of a faceSometimes in the life of an artist there comes a time when they just have to terrify passing civilians by asking, “Do you mind if I paint you?” For extra points, you can then tell them why, but that usually leads to a swift no. I’ve never yet experienced it leading to a swift left hook, but I live in anticipation.

I met A. on the train, and stared at her for a while, and then popped the question. She was less surprised than most people, and stared out of the window while I got the shots I needed. Train lighting is pretty cool, as it is light on one side and very light on the other.

The first stage in any portrait is a tonal study. Where are the darkest bits? I’m not trying to get a good likeness, but to make a set of notes. So, it looks a bit like A., but not a huge amount. Accuracy comes later, when I understand the problems.

She has dark hair, which sets the black point, as the darkest mass in the picture. Together with her jacket and a necklace, she’s got one big dark patch and two lighter areas, the face and the chest. That’s going to be really dramatic. The lightest parts are thie highlights on the nose and lips, and the whites of her eyes. Her skin’s a mid brown, which will be modulated by warm and cold colours as I add in the lighting, as well as by the natural variation of skin.

*A is actually G, but my image folders are ordered by last name, so G.A. is a_g in my naming scheme.

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