I kind of wish I could walk back this painting to an earlier stage when everything but the face was sketchy (left). I like how much more intense the face is. (And it’s probably not a great idea to paint in detail a hat that looks like a tortilla — it really does look like a tortilla, though! But as a teacher told me, are you going to stand there and explain that to everyone?)
This was an attempt to learn how to paint a deep shadow similar to those in the early Rembrandt self portraits, and I was pleased with that. The ground is yellow ochre over red oxide, which is glazed darker in the shadow areas of the face, resulting in a copper-like glow in the shadows. Like most recent portraits this was done with a very limited palette — yellow ochre, burnt sienna/red oxide, black, raw umber and tiny amounts of pyrrole red and orange. It starts to seem to me that paintings have a key when done this way, as in music. Key colors are the magic ones that seem to correct problems and unify. In this case it was burnt sienna and a muted green made with black and yellow ochre. Of course that covers a red and green which in a limited palette is a large subset of what you have, so maybe I’m imagining things.
I didn’t succeed (again) in getting the light areas as bright as Rembrandt did. I am thinking that the midtone background is too dark to allow me to use putty as the white, and so titanium white is my only way to go brighter. Rather than get chalky, I am keeping the lights darker than I want. Will have to try a lighter ground or wiping out in light areas.