Visit our Shakespeare and Opera Shop online!

Immortal Longings is an artist-run London company specializing Shakespare & Opera illustrations.

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.

My unique Shakespeare Gifts and Opera Gifts include: Giclée Art Prints, Art Cards, our Leatherbound journals (which make wonderful diaries and sketchbooks), Postcards, iPhone Wallpapers, and More.

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, 3 August 2011

Painting the Phagocytes

Behind the scenes at Inside the Human Body on the BBC.
One of the strangest and most challenging characters in the show: the phagocyte (your white cells).  To me they looking like guinea pigs made out of jelly, with random tentacles.  Fascinating creatures.  I learned a whole lot about the human body during this production.

My job was to make the painted storyboards for the CGI sequences, to set the style and the framing for what would then be built in the 3D environments at Rushes and Jellyfish. An incredible project, and I loved that the team wanted everything to be seen as an incredible epic landscape, with a heavy eye to the artistic representation of the science.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Tales of the Unexplained: Film-making

For the past year or so, there's been a big project brewing in the studio here in London: an independent  Greek-language feature film called 'Ο Χειμώνας' ('The Winter.')  It's a project that's taken a whole lot of hours and is very close to my heart.

When my favorite Greek director inherited a spooky 17th century house in a sleepy mountain town in Northern Greece, creepy family stories emerged that just screamed to be woven into a film.  The story follows an eccentric young Greek running from debt in London, who hides in his abandoned family home in Greece, unearthing the mystery surrounding his father's death and hold on to his sanity in a haunted house.  

Since January 2010, we've been crafting the story and the concepts for the film, leading us into strange adventures in treasure-hunting, psychic ghost-hunting, and other madness.  In Autumn, we found the support of producers in Athens, and now we've some fantastic Greek cast confirmed, along with music by the group Active Member.   The story will be a mix of live action and CGI trickery, and I'll be handling the design work.

At the moment, we're getting ready to shoot as soon as the cold hits the mountains.

The house is genuinely known to be haunted by the locals...  having been used for black market trading, a prison during the occupation and a fur-making shop. When we put the script together, some of the scarier stories we left out!   

You can follow the updates on the project on our spiffy multi-lingual blog here.  I'm hoping it make it through without spotting any shadowy beasties, but with garlic and a flashlight, everything should be fine.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Queen Reigns: Elizabeth I, Portrait

England's first Queen Elizabeth was a consummate manipulator of her own image. Her portraits, like her fathers, represent her political power and ambition, as well as elevating her from human to an icon.

It was difficult to choose which one of her portraits to use as inspiration, and I had two finalists. 
Her shrewd eyes in this portrait seem to me to convey intelligence and restraint, something very guarded. 

However, it's the triumph of the Armada portrait that I was drawn to.  It may have been the big lacey collar that attracted me, but really it's the grand scale of the image, and the slight smile that drew me in.

Okay, maybe I just wanted to draw the fancy lace.

So, below you'll see my progress and execution of the portrait... 

Pencil baselines flesh out the details, followed by inking.

The basic inking is finished, then followed by cross-hatching 
to fill the background and smeared with water, making a grey wash.
And a new Tudor Portrait is complete!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

New Work: Tudor Portraits - Christopher Marlowe

Back at my desk this week, and decided to conquer a few more Tudor portraits that have been on my mind for some time.

First, Christopher Marlowe:
He's a fascinating figure, and the kind folks at The Rose Theatre here in London revitalised my interest in him.
For the Tudor portrait series, I've been using contemporary portraits (such as this one of 1585 of Marlowe.)
To start with: I create a pencil sketch of the face and neck/costume, 
then I print out a copy of the pencil line work lightly as a framework for the inking. 

For pencils, I'm partial to the Papermate Sharpwriter for its consistent point, ability to be gentle/light and heavy/dark, and for their cheap n' cheerful price. The inking is done with a mix of smaller pens (.5 from Muji, or a Staedler .1 pen liner in this case.)  The Muji pens aren't quite as amazing as the Pilot G Tec C4 of legend, but they definitely hold their own.
When inking, I find the outlines, followed with a scribbley crosshatch stroke to fill in areas, along with more free contour lines.  Then, I either wet and smear the ink with my thumb/forefinger, or with a paint brush, as grey background wash.  The paintbrush gives a more precise stroke, but the thumb gives you a stronger smear without over-wetting the paper.

It's a method I really enjoy, especially the mad cross-hatching I use during the inking.
Next up: Queen Elizabeth I, as inspired by the Armada Portrait.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Boudoir Circus plays Download Festival 2011

Amongst wind and rain and sun: We've taken Aircraft Circus' wild and wicked show on the road for the rock festival Download.   On the mainstage was Alice Cooper and a barrage of headliners, and in a tent all of our own: Madame Pain's Boudoir Circus.

Having never designed for a tent show before, the task presented some unusual logistical challenges: keeping the backstage and scenery dry in a storm, platforms that slope with the ground... having theatre tech week while camping and everybody snatching shuteye amidst enthusiastic all-night rock ballad karaoke and airplanes... but it was fun.  Definitely helped to have my wellies with me.  And getting the paint off your hands works just fine in a rain barrel.

Our house band Orangafruup composed enough spectacular tunes to fill 2-3 hours of show, Poppy Flint crafted costumes of jilted glamour and hardcore recycling, and always exploding with creative ideas & mayhem: Alex Frith directed the crack team of aerialists from Aircraft.  The crowds were great, especially on the cold night.  It was a big jump from an underground installation show in London to a big stage on a field in Donington Park.  Next time... even bigger tent? You bet.

Photo credits: Download 2011 /  Dimitris Amvrazis

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gettysburg on the History Channel

Sometimes it's not all Shakespeare and theatrical fantasy: I've been painting storyboards for CGI sequences quite a bit in the past year.

Battles and biology, it's great fun. Once the shows have aired, I'll be able to show a little behind the scenes of the artwork.

In the meantime:

Ridley Scott produces a vibrant portrait of American at war with itself.
Brilliant stuff, can expect guns, explosions and great daily details..
Storyboarded a few of the CGI   sequences.

Premieres in Memorial day, 30 May 2011, US
on the History Channel

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Inside the Human Body: on BBC 1 Tonight

Last summer, I had the pleasure of storyboarding a cracking new science series on the BBC, "Inside the Human Body."  Big, bold colours and gorgeous CGI graphics make it a treat for the eyes, presented by Michael Mosley.

For me, the biology and science were intriguing and a great new field to be painting for.  It began with some very abstract and specific subject matter, and incredible organic landscapes to work with.  I'll be posting some of the original drawings here after the episodes have aired. In the meantime, you can revel in the magical world inside all of us..  

"Inside the Human Body"
BBC 1 - 9pm, Thursdays in May

Press the red button on the episodes for Behind the Scenes, and perhaps a little about the storyboards...
Watch Inside the Human Body

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Queen of the Night

Mozart's The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) contains one of my favorite opera divas: The Queen of the Night.
Her glorious arias soar, and her nuturing/villainous dramatics steal the show.

The Seattle Opera is opening a splendid production  of The Magic Flute this week, and with it, my drawing for the Queen makes her first appearance...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Shakespeare: Wordsmith

  an article by Ashlie E. Montana

(illustrated by E. Schuch)

“…read him, therefore, and again and again; and if then you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him.”
--John Hemings and Henry Condell, in the prefatory remarks to Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio’ in 1623

Anyone who has spent time immersed in the world of Elizabethan literature knows that at the first, it is a labor of love to comprehend the elegant prose and sometimes-unfamiliar wordage contained in those magnificent works. The writings of Shakespeare are a beloved favorite among many literary fans, and have been widely read and appreciated for 400 years.Despite his obvious popularity among scholars and leisure readers alike, it is not often recognized just how much Shakespeare contributed to the English language as a whole. His literary inspiration is cited for such writers as Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Alfred Tennyson, among other authors in the 1800s. However, Shakespeare’s influence extends beyond style and characterization to the major development of the English language as we know it today.

Elizabethan English was written the same way it was spoken, making grammar and sentence structures very vague. It was a language that explicitly expressed feelings. The volume of different words in 16th century English was also limited, making it difficult to express certain ideas and scenery in written language. Shakespeare became known for borrowing from classical literature and foreign languages to create the words he needed for his writing. He changed nouns into verbs, verbs into adjectives, and connected words never before used together by adding prefixes and suffixes, in order to devise words that were wholly original. Because the Bard and his work was such an influential person in Elizabethan culture, many of these new words trickled into common dialogue and expression among the English-speaking people.

His contributions have been recognized as early as 1598, when Francis Meres placed Shakespeare among the writers who had dignified the English language. Samuel Johnson’s ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ quoted more phrases from Shakespeare than any other writer. His individual style developed the usage of blank verse. By expressing emotions and situations in verse-form, he inspired a natural flow for language with an added sense of drama and spontaneity.

Of the 17,677 different words used by Shakespeare in his works, 1,700 of them are believed to be products of the Bard’s own imagination. It is incredible to consider the influence Shakespeare still has on our language, even as much as it has changed in the last couple centuries. Many commonly used phrases and figures of speech have been coined from his writing. 

Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated in this week in April every year, and provides a welcome opportunity to indulge in the beauty and distinctiveness of his work. A fine tribute to the Bard is the use of his phrases and quotes in everyday conversation. Here are a few Shakespearian words and phrases to inspire you. For maximum effect, a British accent is suggested.
 Whether you are inclined towards reading, speaking, or writing in the classic style of Shakespeare, we hope you continue to appreciate the Bard’s mastery of the English language and the contributions he made to it through his work!

Ashlie E Montana is a freelance writer in Wisconsin. She enjoys poetry and good coffee, and can often be found in the forest, daydreaming about her next story project.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Save Anne Boleyn's Portrait at the National Portrait Gallery

Visit the Auction at The Tudor Trail

For those with a passion for Tudor portraiture, Natalie Grueninger of "On the Tudor Trail" has started a wonderful campaign to help raise the funds needed to save the Anne Boleyn's fragile portrait, hanging at the National Gallery here in London.

Join "Save Anne Boleyn's Portrait" on Facebook

The Tudor Gallery is one of my favorite rooms to visit at the NPG, the illustrious and turbulent characters in the room captivate me.  Sumptuous fabric details, propaganda styling, and the shifting fortunes of the sitters in the paintings always make them an inspiring bunch.

To preserve Anne Boleyn's famed portrait, restoration is desperately needed for the decaying wood panel used for the the painting.  Your can read more about the preservation and the National Portrait Gallery's campaign.

Natalie's efforts have earned the support of writers and luminaries of the period, including Alison Weir.
In order to help, I've put up a set of illustrated Henry VIII + Anne Boleyn Journals with Portraits Prints for silent auction on the Tudor Trail.   All of the proceeds will go directly to the NPG's preservation fund.

Hopefully we'll make a dent in the funds needed to save the painting... the bidding has already begun!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

La Traviata - New Opera Illustration

La Traviata (the Fallen Woman)
New drawing!

The touching, romantic story of the love, loss, and sacrifice of the beautiful courtesan Violetta is scored in the lush melodies of Giuseppe Verdi.  Based on Dumas' tragic 'Camille', it's a heartbreaker.

In this illustration, the fading flower, doomed Violetta in a flourish of lacey layers, watched wistfully from a window.  It's one of my favorite operas, and the stage play of 'Camille' is a lovely piece as well.

This one was drawn quickly, between filming takes on a set I'd dressed to look like a graphic novelist's messy studio.  As I finished it, the flowers of her hair, and the sadness reminded me of Violetta.  I smeared the ink drawing with a slightly wet brush for the tone across the page.  
(Hint. You can do this with your thumb - and some water, too, thought it is slightly more primitive!)

The Opera Series are now showing at the Immortal Longings Opera shop on Etsy, with selected works available at The Seattle Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera in NYC.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Whichever way you spell it, it's just that time of year to make a hard and fresh dash at getting things together for the coming year. Whether your goal is to be uber-organized with every element of your life under control, or just to have a more inspired and attractive space, I feel your yearning.

This lovely little post-it note To Do List from Muji is a great size.  

Inch by inch, over the past few years, I've been making headway on this (when time allows!) and it's amazing how much of an addiction organization can be.

With the cyclone-mess-creating artistic side of my nature constantly stirring up a new cloud of projects, I never actual thought my workspace could be manageable, clean, and inspiring.  (My nickname in design school was 'Pig Pen' due to the magnetic nature I had with charcoal and pencil.)

I blame the folks: my dad's got the artistic brain that needs everything laid out visually across the desk: it may look like chaos, but he seems to know where everything is, and the systems make some mysterious sense.  That's how I usually run things.

One the other side, my mom's got a a flair for labeling, organizing, and sorting things that leaves me feeling a bit intimidated.  Yep, you bet those folders are color coded. I feel this urge to be organized, too, but it's not nearly as strong as the cyclone-instinct.

Recently, I've been honing into latent clutter-mastering genes in order to keep tame the wilds of my studio and home.

Brocade on the outside, aqua blue inside,   lovely binder to use.  

Here's some of my favorite bits of advice:
Never buy organizational supplies before you've got a specific need they fulfill.
Something about organization and office supplies always draw me into their magic clutches.  They're pretty, they seem like they'll fix everything, and you want them even though you may not quite know what for yet...
Fight the urge.

Always sort out your things into categories to store first, the decide what size and type of containers will suit. Leave room to grow as well.

Otherwise, you'll end up with stacks of bins and boxes that are charming, that you don't need and that you'll feel guilty for having bought.
It will remind you of failure, which is no good at all.

If your system is beautiful and attractive, you are more likely to use it, and you'll enjoy using it.
This is especially true with filing.  I'd seen my mom's pretty colored folders, and her meticulous, aesthetically pleasing storage containers with a pang of envy.  Filing, doing my accounts and business paperwork were not inspiring, but necessary.  My papers were all over the place, my filing containers uninspired.

So, after completing last year's taxes (and taking way too long!) I followed my mom's guidance and treated myself to a lovely brocaded filing folder for my receipts and a binder for all my business papers. (Laura Ashley, WHSmiths, London).

And... everything changed.  Filing is so much more pleasant, I love the look of these objects, and no longer dread having to make use of them.  It may seem like a childish psychological trick, but it works!

Decide what you need to organize, then get something pretty to put it in.

Everyone is unique, and you have to organize according to the way you think.
Now, I have managed to organize the studio, the Etsy packing station, and my business papers in a way  that suits me, and that I'm able to maintain.  What works for my mom, or anyone else, doesn't necessarily translate into what works for me, so there's some self evaluation that needs to be done in order to find your method.
My little best friend- from Muji - helps me keep my papers in  order.

In the studio, I prefer to have a lot of places to make a mess (that can be easily cleaned up after), and to organize a lot of tools and projects at once.  And it's nice to be able to easily see waiting projects.  So, I've organized bins for works-in-progress.  Frequently used but unattractive items (like cables and printing labels) are tucked into pretty fabric-covered bins that blend in with the studio/living room furniture.

I love my inks, and they inspire me to paint, so those stay right next to the desk in sight.  Also, things that build up (paperwork, sketch piles) have to have a home that they can be chucked into quickly and instinctively, or they creep into large looming beasties. Another solution: I found a large, carved and ivory painted box to hide away all of my business items when they aren't in use.

How to kick start yourself?
The very best advice I've had has come from Julie Morgenstern's books.
Start with "Organizing From the Inside Out"and you can't go wrong (especially if you've got artist-brain.)
She'll sort out your business, home, life, and your schedule while she's at it.
Her approach is systematic but individualistic- the perfect blend, really.

Great places to get inspired:
Muji: Everything is so neat, and so sensible and compact.  So functional.
Liberty:  Design inspiration central.  Great just to get ideas for colours and schemes, even if most of the goodies are beyond budget.  Any excuse to browse is nice, though.
WHSmith, The Works, Ryman, Pound Shops:  Treasures to be found in all for the basics.  WHSmith can run a little pricey, but some good design slips in there.
(In the US, Linens N Things, Pier 1, and the Container Store were staple sources, as well as OfficeMax.)
Etsy: A great blog articles to get ideas.  Always a brilliant place for finding that certain special something.
Martha Stewart:  This can be intimidating, but she's so good at this stuff.

Go your own way.  Find what inspires you.  Use gardening pots on your desk to remind you of a favorite hobby, use an antique scale to store incoming mail.  If it makes you smile when you see it and use it, there's a great start.

What are some of your favorite organizing tricks?
Share some of your best tips...