Painting Patience, part 4

I’m almost finished the poster art for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s delightful show “Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride” – info on times, dates & venue is here.  Click on the image below to enlarge it a bit.

patiencepartial4Now you can see the crowd of lovesick village maidens that fervently stalk the romantic poet Bunthorne throughout Act I.  I have yet to paint in Lady Jane, she’s still in pencil, but I’m saving her because she’ll be so much fun.

             Rosetti 'The Roman Window'

‘The Roman Window’

To understand the cheery harassment that Gilbert & Sullivan inflicted on British society with this show, you need to know a little about the Aesthetic Movement. This was a 19th century trend in all the fine arts, driven by the idea that life had to be lived intensely and beautifully. The Aesthetes asserted that Life should copy Art, instead of the other way around, and it prompted some hoity-toityness on the part of writers, painters, and followers of the fad.  If you look at the pouty redhead in Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s paintings, gazing longingly into the distance while surrounded by musical instruments and animal-pelt accessories, well, you’ve found the Beyonce of the Aesthetes.

To continue the plot: the sensible milkmaid Patience confides to her friend Lady Angela that she’s never been in the painful throes of love. Angela urges her to unselfishly step up and fall in love at the earliest convenience, since it’s such an aesthetic thing to do. Patience takes a pass on Bunthorne, but then Archibald Grosvenor enters – another poet, and more widely adored than even Bunthorne – and she recognizes him as the friend from her toddlerhood whom she truly loves.

But of course there’s a complication, and no one convolutes complications more completely than the Victorians.  Patience would like to fall in love as an act of unselfishness, but since Grosvenor is so perfectly aesthetic – and he humbly agrees that he is – it would be selfish of her to love him.  So true love is thoroughly thwarted by aesthetic thinking. And thuth endeth Act I.

More when I finish the painting.

Painting Patience, part 3

I’m back working on the illustration for the poster for Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta ‘Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride.’  It will be performed June 14 and 15 by the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society. If you click on the image below you can see it a bit larger.

patiencepartial3There are a lot of magnolia trees in bloom in Bucks County, PA,  right now, so I photographed a few to use as reference. I wanted to frame this scene with the tree’s pink blossoms, and also added some mountain pinks and daffodils behind the bench. My experience illustrating for the W. Atlee Burpee Seed company’s flower and vegetable catalogs comes in handy.

The story of ‘Patience’ unfolds like a Monty Python sketch from the 19th c.:

Patience is the level-headed milkmaid who is not impressed by flowery words, and has never been in love; Reginald Bunthorne, the Victorian equivalent of Justin Bieber, is a highly sensitive, ode-spouting poet who is adored by the rest of the female population. Until his appearance, the village maidens had been enamored of the local regimental soldiers, called the Dragoon Guards – a bunch of manly men who couldn’t recite a couplet to save their moustaches.  The guards now feel understandably put out that their girlfriends are fainting all over a fellow in a velvet suit whose main occupation is being imbued with things.

Complicating the polite lunacy of this village is the fact that Bunthorne is in love with Patience, the only woman in town who just can’t be bothered.  Also, he’s a fake.  He doesn’t even like poetry, he confesses to her, and he puts on aesthetic airs pretty much the same way PT Barnum put on circuses. Bunthorne’s appeals for her affections do no good, however, because Patience just isn’t feeling it.

She does recall one fond figure from her past, though, a childhood friend that she remembers as being the perfect little mate.  More about that in the next post.

Painting Patience, part 1

I’m now illustrating the poster for the next Gilbert & Sullivan show to be performed by the Bucks County G&S Society in June: Patience.  Just started painting the finish, and I’ll show the work in various stages as it progresses.

patiencepartial1 The character of Patience is a milkmaid with a good head on her shoulders – not one of those young ladies who become infatuated with the latest fad or celebrity.  If you click on the art above, the sketch will enlarge a bit and you can see some of the pencil lines for the rest of the sketch.  As I paint in the others in the cast I’ll tell you about their characters as well – it’s a funny premise for a play, and actually correlates pretty well to some of today’s trends too.