lion of saint mark

City of Lions

watercolor & ink

This year’s theme for the Montserrat Illustration theme show: Shakespeare. Talk about possibilities. I hovered for a while between Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s Dream but eventually settled on The Merchant of Venice (mainly because I love Venice).

The piece shows Shylock making his way through the darkened Piazza San Marco (with, erhm, lot of liberties taken on the architecture). Because the winged lion is the symbol of Mark, the city’s patron saint, lion statues abound in Venice. Shylock is famous as a character who is both villain and victim – a Jew in a Christian city, he constantly deals with the prejudices of the other characters. So I wanted to use the lion statues to symbolize the oppressive culture that surrounds him.

Working on this certainly brought back memories of art school – though I started early, I got waylaid by several other projects, so I ended up painting it all in a rush (afraid it shows a bit too, there’s no cheating at art). My scanner and printer, sensing my panic, seized their chance to not cooperate, just as the art school equipment used to do. Oh, nostalgia. Well, at least it’s finally in the mail, so I can get some sleep now, which is definitely something that never happened at art school.