I decided that I might as well post my work in process with this self-portrait that I am currently working on. Here you can see the first "drawing" that I did in a thin burnt umber. I was really just trying to establish the tonal values and was hoping that it I did that right then I would be able to glaze over to get the final result. In hindsight I think I did this too rough and I think it would be better to spend more time doing that so that the initial under-painting is very very smooth and correct.
Since then I have been glazing and you can see where I am up to with the top photo. I still have a long way to go and at one point I used titanium white instead of the translucent white I had been using to mix with and that put a horrid opaque film over the entire face. So tonight I went back with the burnt umber and have been glazing with my various mixtures of cerulean red and yellow ochre with translucent white. So I am feeling happier with it now. However I think because I brought in the opaqueness too early and all over instead of just the highlights, that I have lost the potential to get that real luminosity coming through.
I haven't worked on the eyes much since that first night at it so a lot to do there and a lot of refinement on the face itself. The hair, eyebrows and background haven't been touched and I will figure out what to do with those once I have completed the face. I have lost some of the deeper values in the shadow part of the face too so I need to darken those. So still a long way to go but I am enjoying the process and I think a self-portrait is a good way to start to explore portraiture. The photo that it is based on was not meant to be a flattering photo - I held the camera out from my un-made-up face in the morning and just snapped. I just wanted to have a simple face structure to paint and decided not to get hung up on whether it made me look good or not.
So I will keep you posted in my first attempt at portraiture in oils and hopefully I end up with an outcome that isn't too painful. In any case I am determined to keep it and not paint over it as I think self-portraits are brilliant for tracking artistic progression so hopefully one day I will look back on this and laugh at my amateur attempts!