The Robin Hood Project
I like to listen to really old classical music, and have attended the wonderful concerts organized by the Renaissance & Baroque Society of Pittsburgh. I do illustrations for their season brochures.
A couple of years ago they booked the group Hesperus, who had the clever idea to perform a renaissance/medieval soundtrack to Douglas Fairbanks’ silent movie Robin Hood. My buddy Ann Mason, who was executive director at the time, asked me to do a poster illustration for this special concert. How could I resist?
I wanted to show the musicians superimposed on a larger-than-life Douglas Fairbanks, and somehow interacting with him. I remembered a scene from the movie My Favorite Year, in which Peter O’Toole (essentially playing Errol Flynn) drunkenly walks into a screening of one of his old movies and begins sword-fighting his own projected image.
To separate the musicians from Fairbanks, I chose to paint them in color and him black & white—that’s a no-brainer. Also, they will be lighted from below (as they turned out to be during the performance) while Fairbanks would be lighted from the left. They will cast hard shadows onto the b&w image to keep up the illusion of a projected movie. The perspective for Fairbanks is different and far more dramatic than for the musicians—we’re looking at him from a bug’s-eye view; the musicians are level with our own horizon. As usual with my perspective exercises, if you take a ruler to it and try to find a vanishing point you’ll be doomed to disappointment. The vanishing points are there, somewhere, but I don’t strictly adhere to them.
I did a burnt sienna underpainting even for the black and white portion. I think it warms it up a bit.
Back when I was 6, a century ago, I was madly in love with Douglas Fairbanks! Especially his role as Zorro! But being a “modern” 6 year old woman, I, too, took part in sword fights. Thank you for the memory! I love the double perspective.
Beautiful job John.