Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta Prints

I first saw a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta on television in the 1980s, when the wonderful Clive Revill played Koko in a BBC production of The Mikado. I was floored over how ingenious the patter song lyrics were, and how truly funny the humor was for something written a hundred years earlier. And the music itself was utterly sumptuous! I listened to as many G&S records as I could find in our local library – but since this was in pre-internet days, that’s about as far as my Savoy education went.

About 12 years ago my husband (who had been in HMS Pinafore years back) and I heard a Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society was forming right here in our town, so we checked it out right away. Since then we’ve been involved in and entertained by many of these delightful musicals; and it is apparent many others in our area appreciate the madcap plots, colorful characters and buoyant music of these operettas too.

For the Bucks G&S Society I’ve created 8 illustrations so far of their productions, and now by request of a G&S fan I’ve made 8″ x 10″ color prints of each. These full color prints are on heavy, partially-recycled paper and printed in the USA. The prints are $8.00 each and may be ordered by emailing me on my Contact page for info on shipping and payment method. A discount price of $55.00 is available for a complete set of 8 prints.

If any G&S groups would like to lease my copyrighted images for their posters and promotional items, please send me a message on my Contact page for leasing information. The 8 images are shown on my new G&S page – click HERE – and all artworks are (c) Pat Achilles.

My Illustration for Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Yeomen of the Guard’

yeo4Every June the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society performs an operetta by their illustrious namesakes, with full theatrical effects – beautiful costuming and staging, rhapsodic music by a full orchestra, and outstanding singers who vocalize the distinctly idiosyncratic lyrics of Mr. Gilbert while giving operatic due to Mr. Sullivan’s soaring arias and choruses. It’s an experience I enjoy wholeheartedly.

yeo5While most of the duo’s operettas are predominantly comic, their most poignant and emotional work, The Yeomen of the Guard, has been chosen for this year’s show. You may be sure there is still comedy and patter songs in Yeomen, but the story rests more on the dramatic themes of courage, love and honor, and it does so with great beauty.

So instead of drawing my usual quirky stock characters bounding across oceans and peeking from behind judge’s benches, I painted a more solemn scene for this show which takes place in the time of King Henry VIII.  Solemn – but I hope a bit curious too. The director, Bob Kinney, asked for a scene with some of the main characters – the jester, Jack Point, and his betrothed Elsie Maynard, bowing to one of the sturdy Yeomen who guard the Tower of London and its prisoners. yeo6It would be a pleasant moment to illustrate if the sky were not lowering threateningly, and but for a figure lurking by the Tower wall on the right. This figure is the Headsman, ready to dispatch some poor prisoner to his unfortunate fate, and he is a menacing presence in the play.

I tried drawing several compositions to highlight the group of three and hide the Headsman a bit, before I chose to present them as if at center stage.

I made the set minimal and neutral in tone, which matches the set for this production, to bring out the colorful costumes and sky and the shadows stretching in front of them give a more serious feel to the scene. I blocked in basic color and tones using the computer. Once I had the composition set I drew the figures in more detail for a sketch to trace to illustration board.

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and then painted it using my computer-colored composition as a guide.

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I added in the shadows below them digitally, so i could gradate it to a dark background, so the white type would drop out.

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This opera, as is indicated on the poster, runs June 15, 16 and 17 at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, and it promises to be am extraordinary experience!. Further info is on the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society website here.