After being betrayed by those he considered friends, Richard II reluctantly agrees to relinquish the crown to his cousin Bolingbroke. But first a little teasing in the form of a tug of war with the crown. Bolingbroke on the left and Richard II on the right. As source material I used a video still from the 2013 RSC production of Richard II (David Tennant) which was recently screened by the BBC. I also had to refer to my own and my husband’s hands as the image was grainy and difficult to decipher
I wanted to try to paint hands because gesture is important in theatre but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. For ideas I put together a Pinterest Board of paintings in which hands feature strongly. This was a huge help and I took inspiration from the work of Ecuadorian Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999) and German painter and printmaker Erich Heckel (1883 – 1970), Guayasamin’s enlarged, exaggerated hands gave me the idea of adding the heavy dark shadows to bring emphasis to the hands which actually don’t fill much of the picture plane. I used black line quite heavily and, while trying not to go over the top, a fairly vibrant colour for the crown, with one bright red accent in a single jewel. The background is a part of the throne taken from another scene.
The black line and the colours used look a little like stained glass which feels appropriate for an ancient king. The composition and the colour palette works although it could have been more vibrant. I avoided getting too fussy with the crown and drew it ‘freehand’ rather than try to reproduce precise filigree work. My sketchbook work on crowns for painting 1 helped. The painting is not a slavish copy of the video still, it is an interpretation and I’ve added new background.
What doesn’t work so well?
The hands are not very anatomically correct despite my practice sketches but I don’t feel it matters too much in this stylised context. It is not necessarily a picture that I would say is representative of my personal developing voice but nonetheless it was enjoyable to work on and a good learning exercise. It might perhaps be more successful as a print than a painting.
Stages of my painting