This is William H Macy the well-known actor pictured in his new role as `Frank' in the American TV version of the British soap Shameless. No I don't watch it. This photograph was on the cover of the Weekend Guardian colour magazine. I immediately thought he would make a great subject for a watercolour portrait.
This was my second attempt. I rejected the first painting because the resemblance to Macy was not good enough and I also realised I was beginning to tighten up, something I'm always fighting against. For the outline drawing I used a Shorty Propelling pencil. This is a tool I first read about in Robert Wades last book and on perusing the Great Art catalogue I saw and ordered one. It is unusual in that the pencil is short and stubby 10.5cm long 1.5cm wide, hence the name, with a quite large 7B 0.3mm lead. It is soft being a 7B so I was careful not to press too hard. It's in the latest Great Art catalogue if anyone is interested. I've not seen it anywhere else in the UK mail order specialists. Robert Wade said he bought his in an art shop in Venice and that he believed it was called a `Stumpy' in the USA. Code number is 28391/2 black or white. It costs £6.95 and comes with three leads. I presume you can get replacement leads although they aren't listed in the latest `small' GA catalogue, possibly on the website. www.greatart.co.uk Note Added 13/06/11.Yes they are available.
The `Shorty' compared
I've just compared this with the actual painting and the painting is better, not quite so truncated (my ad hoc photography!). I also think the values are better in the actual painting.Note Added 11/6: I have rephotographed the painting, using a tripod and different settings and removed the original. Still far from perfect. Overall I'm pleased with the result. I first did a loose drawing making sure the proportions were correct by using the variscaler and just putting dots in which I then used as guides for the drawing. I used the Shorty for all the intial drawing but switched to a normal B pencil for the eyes etc.
Paints used were a mix of Cadmium Red Light or Pale, Cadmium Yellow Light and Cerulean for the features but in order to get the darker shades, especially around the eyes, I mixed Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Sienna. The eyebrows and moustache are a mixture of mainly Gold Ochre with some Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and a little of the dark mix. Touches of Ivory black for the dark areas above the eye and corners and also the pupils. The hair is mainly Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and Gold Ochre partially mixed on the paper. Touches of Hookers Green in the corners of the eyes. The shirt was a mixture of Cerulean and Cobalt Blue, with the jacket mainly Raw Umber. I think that's it.
Brushes used were the Isabey No 6 retractable for the eyes, nose and mouth and Rosemary No.6 and 9 series 33 Kolinsky for the rest of the face. I used the Da Vinci 44 Kolinsky Mop No 2 and Rosemary No 9 for the hair.
This was also another trial of the Waterford High White paper and I'm beginning to change my opinion and becoming more positive about it.