This portrait was the first real success with the palette I use now a days. I made one before this one that I discarded. It was meant as a training session, but I was happy with the result and kept it and framed it for a part of my portfolio.
Started putting down my colors for this self portrait painting which consisted of Cadmium Green,Burnt Sienna, Scarlet Lake, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Titanium White, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Olive Green, Ultramarine Blue. I put down the colors in the order as described above from left to right. All my colours are from Windsor & Newton.
For an in depth information about my color mixing and the colours I use follow this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/color-palette-portrait-painting/
Mixing the pool of darks for the very darkest areas and the shadows for the self portrait painting was the next step. The darks consists of the colors Olive Green, Alizarin Crimzon and Ultramarine Blue. This pool of darks had 60 percent Olive green / 30 percent Alizarin Crimson / 10 percent Ultramarine Blue. The percentage of colours used in the pool varies a bit from portrait to portrait. Mostly due to the fact that I’m at the moment trying to find the perfect balance. Why not use an Ivory Black in stead you might say? But the fact is that I like this transparent mix of colours. When you mix it further in to the shadow areas with Burnt Sienna one can really see the mix’s potential.
Shadows for the self portrait painting I made consisted of the previous pile mixed with Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. I am Scandinavian of origin and my skin tone has a light tone to it but still more warm than a very light Scandinavian. Because of that I was not overly careful with the adding of Burnt Sienna into the mix. I put an average portion of Manganese Blue Hue in the mix, since I didn’t want to neutralize the reddish hue to much and I didn’t want to grey it to much either. In pertange it might have been 5 percent compared to the total pool. Shadows were made as an average of all the shadows that was on the model. In retrospect this was not my greatest shadow area. It didn’t lighten as the oval shape of the neck turned more into the light.
Darkest light mix
Then I mixed the Burnt Sienna and the Cobalt Blue. The pool consted of 60 percent Burnt Sienna / 40 percent Cobalt Blue. It made a grey that could be altered warm and cold in temperature. This mix was later used to make the half tones which is a mix of this pool and the skin tone pool. I tend to keep the half tones more reddish or warm as that looks more like flesh or skin. This mix is a little special. It serves a very important purpose but the mix is only used together with my skin tone mix, not on its own.
This color mix is my neutralizer because it calms down the redness in the later mixing of the skin color. The mix is a must to neutralize the red hue of the Scarlet Lake that effects the skin tone color mix. This mix consists of Manganese Blue Hue tinted with Titanium White. The mix was made approximately with 70 percent Manganese Blue and Titanium White. It was a little more blue and darker in value this time than my previous portraits. Reason for this was that I didn’t wan’t to much light in the mix which would lighten my skin tone pool later on.
Light tone / Skin tone
The light tone for the self portrait painting consisted of Burnt Sienna and Titanium White – in the following order. Since my portrait was fairly light I was not afraid to lighten it and grey it with the neutraliser. It came out perfect in value so this almost very first time I mixed this pool. This mixing really boosted my self confidence at the time. I could then alter the pool in a warmer, cold or more yellowish direction.
Added my light skin tone mix to the darkest lights mix. This made my half tones. The mix is very important as it is used everywhere there is oval shapes. This makes an even more light grey in which you can alter in temperature according to your models features. Halft tones tends to grey around the oval shapes on the face. But they still had temperature to them that can vary from warm and cold. In general my half tones were very neutral but heading a a little cold on this portrait
Laying down the paint
I always lay down my shadows from the darkest areas to the lightest. No expection this self portrait painting either. Used my darkest pool of darks to the corners of the eyes and the nostrils. If you look closely you will notice that I didn’t soften the dark line over the left eye. It seemed to hard and like it had been drawn. That’s a flaw. But I learned from it. As mentioned earlier my shadows did not turned out very well this time. At least not in the area of the neck. It was to green and to flat to look at. That’s a flaw again. Next time I will mix the shadow with more Burned Sienna. I painted most of the hair from the pool of shadows. I lightneded it with Burned Sienna and made highlights with Yellow Ochre.
In the sockets of the eyes, around the nose, and around the eyes where there was oval shapes I added the half tones. I started to paint the side of the cheeks near the hair line in dark shadow tones but it came out wrong. I changed it to half tones which came out way better to the skin tones. The half tones in the described area leans toward the cold spectre. I always try to be true to my reference regarding half tones and shadows. I see some classical painters paint shadows very red even though the light hitting the face makes the shadow more cold.
Started laying down paint where the skin tones were the darkest. In this case it was in the forehead and the nose area. I yellowed the skin in the forehead with Yellow Ochre according to the reference. Likewise down the side of the nose on the left. I then graduately lightneded it with Titanium White while I added small portions of Scarlet Red and Burnt Sienna in the mix to minimize the cooling effect of Titanium White. It’s a difficult process for me because I have to lighten the mix and at the same time keep warmth to the cheek areas. The lightest areas was in this case my forehead and underneath my eyes. Titanium White was added to the mix until I felt value and temperature was correct.
Highlights were not that dorminating on this self portrait painting. I concentrated on making oval shapes more than anything else. What I did make was a small white line down the nose, a little dot on the nose and a few dots near the tear canals of the eye. I mixed a microscopic drop of Scalet Lake in Titanium White and that was my highlight material.
As always I paid a lot of attention to the eyes during the painting. I was aware that there were more shadow around the right eye. I painted the eye and shadow in one colour, but ended up lightening the pupil a little with Burnt Sienna. As stated before the dark lines above the eye assembling the eye lid got to harsh. They should have been softened more. It almost look like an eyeliner and that’s a flaw.
Compared to my present skill level the nose got okay. I wished I had made it look a little more round with some half tones playing around shadows and skin tones. The form, shape and temperature + value of the skin tone was perfect though. I used Yellow Ochre in my skin tone mix and added Scarlet Lake in the erea of the nose bud.
Shape of the mouth was very correct according to my reference. The colour of the lips and the value was perfect as well. The mouth was to harsh. The paint should have been softened and blended into the skin tone around the mouth.
I honestly did near no restating on this one. I finnished in one setting. The question is that I should have looked at it the day after and corrected the flaws mentioned earlier. I just didn’t know at time the importance of restating.
Overall I’m actually quite happy for this self portrait. It was my second painting with a hole new palette and new types of Nylon brushes. There’s many things I would have corrected had it been today. The truth is though that this portrait was one my most learning experiences and session ever. It not only gave me confidence in my new materials and palette but also my technique. So in many ways this is one of my favourite portraits because it launched me forward and it hold a lot of history to me.
It’s important to notice what style you like and want to paint before you start a portrait. You have to ask yourself if you want the painting to be photo realistic. You have to ask yourself if the painting should be a story of brush strokes, values and temperatures combined into simplicity.
Links to previous content
For more information about how I build up my portrait step by step follow this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-painting-step-by-step/
Fore more information about how I mix my colors follow this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/color-palette-portrait-painting/
To see a previous oil portrait painting for comparison follow his link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-painting-oil-sofia/
Links to the materials and brands I use
Paint from Winsor & Newton artist color: http://www.winsornewton.com/row/
Bristle brushes from Rosemary and Co: https://www.rosemaryandco.com/
Ampersand boards from: https://www.ampersandart.com/
My Easel is from Edge Pro Gear: https://www.edgeprogear.com/
Nylon brushes from Trekell: https://www.trekell.com/