I watched Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" the other night with my daughter who will be acting in the play this summer. Though the movie was made in 1968 it didn't seem dated. Amazing. I think that part of the reason it looked so contemporary was that hairstyles in 1968 were exactly the same as they are today. Young Leonard Whiting playing Romeo was a dead ringer for Chase Crawford or Zac Efron or one of those young heart throbs. The other reason it didn't seem dated was, of course, that it was so beautifully made.
I mention the movie because I have been thinking about stone this week. Zeffirelli shot so many beautiful scenes in Italian towns rich with Renaissance stonework and cobbled streets. At times I enjoyed the scenery as much at the dialogue. I love European stonework, from the dry stone walls of Northern England to the ochre colored crumbling plaster of Bologna. Here in the Pacific Northwest we tend to use wood to build our houses and garden walls but I have some stone elements in my garden.
There is a slate patio in the front of my house,wet with rain as I photographed it today.
There are concrete steps into which my children left their hand prints and which have the added decoration of fallen cherry petals in todays rain storm.
There is a brick patio behind my house which grows wonderful moss in the cracks between each brick. To an ant (or pillbug) this moss is a giant hedgerow.
My terracotta plant pots must wish they were back in sunny Italy instead of damp and mossy Seattle.
I have been thinking about stone and using it for inspiration on a mural commissioned by a corporate client. They wanted a list of slogans and words about communication and they requested a distressed look. I thought of old Italian walls glowing with layers of ochres and umbers and burnt sienna. I prepared the canvases with various textures simulating stone and years of history.
We artists always enjoy a little bit of subversion so this admonition toward authenticity painted on a faux Italian wall makes me smile.
My client likes things old and Italian, as do I, so she seemed pleased with the end result of this mural. I recommeded that she watch Romeo and Juliet and we hummed the theme song together.