Demonstration : Self Portrait

STAGE 1: I began with a watered-down mix of Van Dyke brown and ultramarine blue applied with an ordinary kitchen sponge. You can quickly describe the form of the head and main components of your painting just using a sponge, as long as it's wet enough and you're not scrubbing the surface, it looks fine. It makes you work loosely too. With half-closed eyes I saw all the bumps and hollows of my face and with a size 12 brush I made more sense of the sponged areas, still keeping a looseness of line and avoiding details. I find it's best to start off with lighter skin tones and build up an area gradually, then it's not crucial if you make a mistake - all your marks are leading you to the finished portrait. I used some ultramarine on my right temple to help describe the cool light hitting that area, the paint didn't bleed so much and there's a nice light watermark round the edge of the colour because the paper was dry.

STAGE 2: I built up the tones of the face and blocked in some clothes and background colour to diminish the glare of the white paper. The socket where my right eye will go has no white left in it but there's easily enough contrast to describe its shape and position.

FINISHED PAINTING: Self Portrait, watercolour 17.5X12.5in (44.5X32cm)

Here I wanted the dark shadow between my collar and neck to bleed on one side. The skin on the neckwas dry and the collar was wet, so I dropped water into the side I wanted to blend. You'll get an edge with this, as seen in the ultramarine highlight above my right shoulder, but I think that's fine. The purple in my left eye seems to work - I can just remember spotting it there, as with the sap green shadows on the side of the nose and viridian along the jaw line.