Tuesday, 22 January 2013


This is another attempt at a self-portrait. My wife doesn't like it so I'm posting it with some trepidation. On the other hand I'm a believer in `warts and all' paintings. The fact that I rather look as if I've swallowed a lemon is irrelevant and the bloom of my youth is long departed. Well I don't feel that old so...!

`Self-Portrait' 16" x 12" Waterford 140lb (300gsm) not

I began with as careful a drawing as possible, although not over detailed, using a Pentel 05 mechanical pencil with a 2B lead. My skin mix was based on the Charles Reid one of Cadmium Red, in my case Rowney Cadmium Red Pale, together with smaller amounts of either Yellow Ochre (Graham PY42) or Raw Sienna. Yellow Ochre gives a slightly darker mix. They are mixed in the palette and I brush out some Cerulean and/or Cobalt Blue Deep (Rowney PB72) in a separate well'. Sometimes I add the colours together in the palette or mix on the paper. The blues are used to darken the mix for the shadow areas. I start with the features, eyes first, then down to the nose and lips. After that I extend the wash to the other areas and make sure I don't have a definite edge where the brow meets the cap under the brim. For the features I tend to use the Isabey Retractable Size 6 Series 6201 Kolinsky which is small for a size 6 but long and slim. For the remainder I use the Isabey 6228 Kolinsky sizes 4, 6 and 8 and also the Da Vinci Artissimo 44 Size 2 mop for  areas like the cap. When the initial washes are dry, and consequently much lighter, I go back in with the darker mix for the shadow areas with special emphasis around the eye sockets, making sure not to leave too many hard edges. I try not to mess around with it too much but often stray over the line. Although my system is based on the Charles Reid way I'm also impressed by several other superb artists whose portrait paintings I have come to know like Fealing Lin, Cao Bei An, Bev Jozwiak, Paul Lovering, Stan Miller and there are more. 


Mick Carney said...

I'm at the usual disadvantage of knowing the person in the portrait and consequently find it difficult to view other than in the context of the photographic image I hold in my memory.

Having said that I've tried to look as if I didn't know you Peter. There is much to like about this, the colours, the edge work and the variation in the skin tones. All of those speak of a confident technique. The one reservation I have is the orientation of the mouth where I see the central section of the lips out of line with the notional line that runs through the nose and chin.

Ray Maclachlan said...

Good job Peter, especially the colours and tones in the face. I must agree with Mick about the mouth, a preliminary curved line crown to chin can help. Did you use a photo or double mirror?

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Mick. I have felt all along that something is not quite right but difficult to put a handle on it. Perhaps I'm too close to the subject!

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Ray. I may have another shot at this one to remedy the points you and Mick highlighted. I used a photograph in which I look even more austere than the painting!