By means of this trio of life-sized charcoal block-in sketches, I considered three lighting options for an eventual self portrait in oil. Identifying a subject's two unique and distinct shapes of light and dark is imperative to a solid painting or drawing. Posing myself in the mirror and using broad, simple shapes, I explored three possible light/dark patterns to see which had the greatest impact. Working in a broader sense achieves a clear and powerful light-effect while maintaining a likeness. This method of exploration is a fairly immediate way to problem-solve before starting the actual canvas.
As a next step, these 5 x 7" grayscale oil studies were painted from life to explore the value range that each block-in lighting solution yields. It's impressive to see how front, three-quarter and rim lighting can vastly change the appearance of a single subject. The unified dark shapes cast by the three-quarter lighting solution (seen at center) provide solidity and interest. I recognized the success of this light/dark pattern and brought it to a higher level of finish. Eliminating detail at this stage emphasizes the general light-effect and affirms my intended expression of light on form. This grayscale study will help guide my value range when working in color on the final canvas and prevent my straying beyond the original vision.