Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Self-Portrait in Oils, day 4

Currently, I have what looks like a large painting-by-numbers. The next stage is to fill it in with basic blocks of colour. After that, I refine the shapes.

To do this, I need to paint a set of pictures of myself, to find out what colour my skin really is. I already know that it will change according to the light, and whether I am warm or cold, but I can take that into account to some degree. What interests me is things like the level of saturation.

Saturation is how much of a colour is /in/ a colour. So a picture that is 0% saturated will be in black and white. However, in a face there are cast shadows and areas that are darkened or slightly greyed out, or have white light bouncing off them. These work better pre-mixed if possible; adding a white haze afterwards can be counter-productive, because it looks like it is hanging in front of the skin. After day 1, I had: Oil C0lour Painting of the artist's head

This is not an accurate representation of my face’s shape. It was drawn on a quick sketch and that shows. However, the colours are interesting. This is too sallow, but is approaching the right colours in the cheeks. The thing that really fascinated me was that my lips are the same colour as my cheeks. Whoever knew? It needs at least one more attempt.

As an illustration of what is wrong here, look at the eyes in close-up:Right eye of self-portrait
Left eye of self-portrait

You can see that the right eye (left facing us) is looking out from the angle of the cheek, but the far eye (the one on the right) is almost fully-frontal. I was attempting to get the dip of the lid, so as an exploration of the eye shape it works. I also know what is going on there and how to fix it in other shots of me at this angle. Tomorrow’s painting is going to have a better under-drawing, and I will use less Naples Yellow.

High points include the purple shadows (the complement of yellow) and some of the bits that do look at me despite the initial errors. The bottom of the nose is too big, but the shaping and the details there are very me.