This is a product of an ongoing collaboration with the talented Kabir Shah (Kabir's blog).
Not having collaborated with anyone before, I found this to be a very interesting and exciting experience, and I also learned a lot from watching Kabir perform his own magic.
The choice of a theatrical setting was made so that we could study lighting, compose multiple figures in perspective, and see if we could add emotion and mood to the piece. A particular inspiration was Helnwein's theatrical work.
We decided that Kabir would work on the background and I would develop most of the characters. In the end, though, each of us did a bit of both. And after a while, we decided to paint over the whole image in turns to try out a different way of working.
The difficult part was to make the characters seem real enough so that it would seem like a stage play, and still maintain a surrealistic, dream like feel to them. We're both satisfied with the outcome. Though, there is much to learn still.
Here are some step by steps from our collaborative process: