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What you'll discover: Delightfully dramatic Shakespeare gifts featuring the Bard's best loved characters. I'm passionate about offering inspired gifts for actors, literature lovers, teachers, poets, dreamers, dramatics and romantics. My Opera Series provides art for international productions, giving an illustrated style to the thrilling music and characters.

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The artwork is created by designer Elizabeth E. Schuch, working with local artisans in the UK and Society6 in the USA to produce gifts. Elizabeth has worked with Shakespeare's Globe, The Metropolitan Opera, The Seattle Opera, The Royal National Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, and other venues around the world to create illustrations based in the world of drama.

Tudor Portraits

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Taming of the Shrew

"I'll not budge an inch."
-William Shakespeare
The Taming of the Shrew

It's been an uphill battle indeed. I've had a version of this one knocking around the studio since I began the first 10 of the Shakespeare Series in 2004. Yup, 5 years later, I finally had one I could publish.

It's the dynamic of Katherine and Petruchio that made it so tough.
Do you show a "tamed" shrew- victim of an abusive and domineering suitor?
Do you make her mid-fight and aggressive, perhaps making her too harsh and unsympathetic?
Or do you sling her over the back of a horse kicking and screaming? That's a bit too much and too comic. (Though I did toy with a version of that.)
And Petruchio- is he lecherous and abominable- in it for the bet, the money and the cheap thrill of demeaning her? Or does he really love her fighting spirit and it's all bravado for show?

It's a tough one to get right.
And somehow, I did think the horse should be in there, though don't ask me why.

You'll see my first attempt- too melancholy and Kate is too obviously a victim.

And my second attempt- just appalling really. Too comic. And Petruchio still looks a bit too creepy. And again with the victim thing, albeit a fighty victim.

At last, I hit upon the idea of the dance/fight. Petruchio has just swung Kate around to him, rather savagely by the wrist. But chin upon and forehead butted up to his, she's strong enough to take it. Next she'll kiss him or sock him in the nose.

With a happy floral be-ribboned arch, this is another of my favorite "romantic looking- but slightly amiss" designs that disguises a battle with flowers and movement.

Who knows what the horse thinks of it all.

Once the idea was there in a rough sketch, I was able to complete this in one night's work.
Not bad after 5 years of wrestling for the right idea!

Here you can see me take the sketch in stages:
1. Rough sketch for placement and movement.
2. Frame-Layout detail. Often involves rulers, compasses. Always my cheap papermate pencil.
3. Human poses: used photo models for this. Pose your friends, click, and there you go- perfect assemblage of hands and noses. Great for those tough poses. Sometimes the figures are done in my head, and sometimes that little bit of help is great.
4. Putting the layout together, matching of the characters and frame, still pencil. Some shading.
5. Inking, and making it all clean and pretty. A copy of the pencil layout is printed out (in case I mess up the ink) and I ink on top of it until satisfied or my eyes go buggy. Tiny black pens for details- the G-tec C4 and any random gel ink for thicker lines.
6. Paint! Watercolour and ink (Sennelier is my favorite) complete the look. Several cups of tea have been consumed by this point.

This design will be premiering on cards at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival giftshop,
and is on sale on prints now at my Etsy Shop.

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