I've been real lazy, didn't paint till late. Recently someone suggested I do a video of one of these sketches, and I had everything set up and would have one to share, except for much of it I stood too much to one side partly blocking the camera's view. And when I wasn't it was just painful to see how much noodling and redundant brushwork I was doing on such a little "sketch." (It's very weird watching myself paint.) But next time will go better.
So I took a break from the self-portrait, and I'm glad I did because I came to the realization that cerulean blue is no good. I used Prussian blue again (which had been on a corner of my palette for some time now) and came to discover more of its amazing properties. Cerulean is not for me any more - and it never was, honestly ... it should be kept to plein air painting. I had always disliked Prussian blue because it was so strong, like a phthalo, and it liked to find its way onto my skin all the time and spread to my clothes. But I made a great discovery while thinking about greens, and which one I might use out of the tube:
I mixed as usual my darkest dark shade (a, above): transp. oxide red and ultramarine blue, the result of which had amazed me the first time I mixed them. Then I thought I'd try the oxide red with Prussian blue, and the wonderful dark green that it made (b) just blew my mind. I don't know which green it resembles - not sap green but Hooker's? I don't know, I didn't look it up. Of course Prussian blue is greenish, and that's why it looks like light underwater and why real nice blue-greens and green-greys are possible (c), from varying the ratio of it to white and ochre. But who would know, until they try it, that this "blue" plus a "red"-brown would give the most incredible green? It is like moss and earth and ferns and all that is good about the woods, all at once.... Some of this dark green is visible in the bottom part of the painting. But the possibility of a wider range of grey as well as green is what is most remarkable; I still have a lot to learn to really exploit this. I used to wonder why people used Prussian blue so much, and now I can understand.