Often the image in Beard's work is absolutely not readable in reproduction. In many ways this is its most distinguished quality as Andrew Graham Dixon has noted:   

"I was looking at this self portrait again the other day and it is something special and I would say 'new' in painting. From a distance in certain lights it appears to be a slightly modulated black monochrome but as you approach it the form of a face appears. It is not that it is a vague or sketchy image on the contrary it seems almost hyper real but on the verge of disappearance. I feel as if it captures that thing where something seen peripherally at twilight seems to be so powerful because it takes the form of memories, dreams strongly affective while fugitive. It reminds me of Berger's "our faces my heart as brief as photos" or words to that effect. 

The paint texture is barely visible although it is very dense -  in some ways this seems to be delivering perception with invisible means - the image and the material (while so subtle as to be imperceptible) are totally synchronised."