Alison Watt has always been interested in figurative art. Most of her early work is concerned with portraiture, with self-portraiture playing a large part. Watt began this painting whilst she was still a student at Glasgow School of Art. Although influenced by the elegance of classical artists such as Ingrès, at this time Watt also liked “ridiculous, over dramatised gestures”. Painted whilst she was ill, this self-portrait shows Watt with her right hand across her forehead, as if she is taking her temperature or about to faint. Her interest in fleshy tones is palpable although she treats the whole surface of the canvas equally. The composition of vertical lines from the panelling and the bold horizontal division created by her hand draw the focus around the canvas.