Cravaggio's work lately. That crazy Italian who worked in the late Rennaisance and brought chirascuro to the forefront of painting.
Needless to say, I've been reading and exploring his work and techniques and you can too by following the link above. Caravaggio left no drawings behind - only finished canvases (and one partially complete) before he died at the age of 38. It is believed that Caravaggio used a camera obscura in his work. Through my research, I found that he might have used Mercury to "fix" the images, thus leading to his "crazy" behavior. He killed a man in a duel and had a price put out on his own head. He was disfigured in another duel shortly before his death.
I have been experimenting with getting a strong, single direction light source in my own work to illuminate the figure. I did a bunch of tests before getting something workable. I try to do a self portrait every year, so this year I decided to use myself as the model. The painting above is not varnished yet so the colors are a bit spotty. The varnish will unify the surface and accentuate the darks. I should repost it after it is varnished. you will have to wait and see.
I think the self portrait thing is left over from having all of those school pictures made every year as a kid. I think I still have them all from when I was like 7. It is record keeping.