Sometime earlier in 2023 a request went out from Rednock School. Rednock is our local senior school here in Dursley. They were after a local artist to paint a portrait of Shakespeare for them. So as I have a degree in drama, and as I visit the school to talk to assembly, and as I'm a local artist, I duly applied. Having sent in some samples of my work I was asked to visit. After the visit I was commissioned. Back in April I began work on what was to be a 1m square portrait.
Having talked to the staff at Rednock about their curriculum and what the set Shakespeare texts were, I began by adding some embellishments to the traditional Shakespeare image. The finished piece was to reference Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest. I sketched out my original ideas and took in a miniature first draft for the school's approval.
Over the coming weeks, once I knew staff and I were happy, I began to work on the full canvass. Here are a few images of the development of the work.
The work is now complete and has been handed over to the school. If they get it hung in time then it will be on show from Thursday 29th July 2023.
The additional images in the painting reference several Shakespeare plays. The crown for Macbeth but also most of the histories. Above the crown are a red and a white rose. These are for Romeo and Juliet, as well as the wars of the roses. A dagger hangs from his ear, another Macbeth reference. The stars in the top left are Shakespeare's birth sign, Taurus, as well as a reference to star crossed lovers. The shipwreck in the background alludes to The Tempest as well as other shipwrecks in his works. Embroidered into his shirt collar are two strawberries. Such a design is on Desdemona's incriminating handkerchief in Othello. Lastly, in the top right are William Shakespeare's years of birth and death, both on 23rd April.