Painting Romeo and Juliet

Why Romeo and Juliet?

William Shakespeare wrote a number of famous plays that have had a profound impact on the US culture. Many of his play’s include tragic love stories, perhaps the most famous being Romeo and Juliet. It was the first Shakespeare play that I saw – on TV – the 1968 version that really had me weeping at the unexpected ending.

Recently I have found the topic of conflict, tragedy, and young love very interesting. In part because I’m working with a new youth led art gallery and in part because I am studying how Shakespeare has impacted US culture at the Pacifica Graduate Institute this quarter. My goal is to create¬†an image that represents the reconciliation between¬†feuding families that occurred from the death of two young star-crossed lovers.

Selecting images for Romeo and Juliet painting

I selected imagery by doing searches on Pinterest and creating a board called theatre.  In addition from classic Romeo and Juliet I also looked at image that represented the SKY god and EARTH mother to represent fate. For the sky I selected an image of a volcano exploding with lighting and added a bird with stars. For the earth mother I choose a drawing of a women / waterfall emerging from the land. My hope it that this dominate image, representing fate, will bring the idea of star-crossed loves / fate into question. Can we change the cycle of tragedy / death to the innocent that is so often the outcome of opposing authoritarian forces?

Below is a funeral scene (from a painting) and a tomb (photo) from a graveyard. The funeral scene is a mirror image – showing a circular procession of death. The tomb is a haunting image of a couple who look as if they have collapsed exhausted while eating dinner and there are two crosses above them.

Visual references to the gate or lock; Love locks (also known as love padlocks and, in Taiwan, wish locks) are padlocks customarily affixed to fences, gates, bridges or similar public fixtures by sweethearts to symbolize their everlasting love.

Why a painting?

I hope that working on a painting about fate will bring some transformation in my mind (and the viewer) to the assumption that, at some level, tragedy / death is the fate of love that attempts to bridge social, political, racial, or economic differences. I am approaching this painting as a process for letting go and a reminder, as I grow older, to respect development through love whenever possible.

Below is my initial concept – it is a collage of some¬†images the I collected on Pinterest. The next step will be to start the drawing and sketch based on this initial concept. I do a similar process for each of my paintings – you can check out a recent overview from my finished ‘Jem’ digital drawing if you are interested in the process.