The first painting was done in my studio, I set up a wobbly construction so that both the mirror and the board were on my easel. It took me quite a while to complete it, basically because the model kept moving !
Self Portrait with Earrings, 2010, oil on board,
This is indeed one of the difficulties of painting from a mirror. While the painter is concentrating on observing the features, the model absentmindedly turns her head, the eye changes place and the painting goes all wrong.
It is reassuring anyway that the model doesn't mind not being flattered, is not disappointed if the painting is going nowhere, will sit for as long as the painter wants to work.
The portrait is painted on a board primed with a casein ground, particularly absorbant. Its resistance to the brush helps me be more assertive about laying the paint.
I was interested in a frontal view of the face. I placed the head slightly on the left, and painted what I found is a natural stance for me, the head leaning towards my left a little.
The hair and collarbone form an ellipses, and ellipses are also accentuated around the eyes. The earring I am wearing are a design by my friend Cristina at Raris, inspired by Michelangelo's design for Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, my hometown.
The palette I have used was essentially chromatic, with the addition of Yellow Ochre and Mars Violet Deep, two earth colours that I find particularly useful.
I was simply concentrating on features. Having worked for many hours, left the painting aside, reconsidered it, abandoned it then picked it up again, my face expresses many of the emotions I went through.
The second self portrait was painted this August while I was staying with family in Tuscany.
There were fourteen of us in the house that day, five about to leave and ten arriving the following week. As someone who is used to spend most of the days alone and quiet, I find the situation very jolly but at times overwhelming. Painting is a good excuse to retreat to my room.
I had this small canvas and set up with a mirror and the canvas both on a table. I had a headache that morning, unusual for me. I had just received the news that my dog, staying elsewhere with my mother, was sick and poorly. She would die that afternoon.
I concentrated on painting and this is what came out. Limited palette of white, Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Black.
Self Portrait with Headache, 2011, oil on canvas 24x18 cm
Looking back at this work, painted in a couple of hours, I find it dense with feelings and with a strange sense of foreboding.
"SELF PORTRAIT WITH EARRINGS" WILL BE DISPLAYED AT THE RUTH BORCHARD SELF-PORTRAIT COMPETITION SHOW AT KINGS PLACE GALLERY, LONDON N1, FROM THE 14TH OF OCTOBER TO THE 24TH OF NOVEMBER.