Sunday, January 21, 2018

Theater Sets Artist

Here is some more of the work I did for Porter High School’s fantastic production of Peter Pan. What a great show!  This was their poster; I thought it looked great.

They asked me to make their fireplace look like marble and paint a landscape over it. Generally in the beginning I will ask them to paint the object with a color of medium value, neither light nor dark.  That way I can add the texturing, dimension, etc. with colors and values on both ends of the spectrum.  The lowlights (shadows) and highlights (nice warm lights) are what make the sets pop.
When I first looked at the fireplace it was a base of off white with a clean red brick veneer.  My first project was to dirty up the brick so it looked more like brick and not just the flat surface.  Several layers of blacks, greys, some green and blue splatter to pull it together with the walls, and believe it or not, I rubbed a little yellow up on the mantle.  Most of these things can't really be seen, but they are felt.  Although you couldn't really see the yellow per se, you could feel the radiating warmth when the light hit it.

Below, some of my paints.  This is my go-to toolbox when I work offsite.Oh yeah, I love my Yeti. It has upped the quality of my life.  Funny how little things can do that, huh?  I didn't mean to wear my good Born boots that I painted; usually I wear sturdy Skechers shoes which I have dedicated to paint.  They're good for climbing.  But these LOOK so good, and I was planning on seeing the show!  Just remember, if you like them, I can paint YOUR shoes, jeans, shirt or purse like this.  Message me.  I charge fifty bucks and you will literally have people chase you asking where you got them.
And yes, just like anybody else and a whole lot of artists, I googled ship to find exactly what I wanted.  Didn't work.  I finally hit upon galleon and hit gold.  This is the little printout I taped up so I could actually see what a ship looked like!  A lot of times I just keep the needed pics on my phone but that has its drawbacks.  Theaters are dark caves.  You have to use your phone flashlight a lot so you don't die.  AND, they're often notoriously bad for reception.  Better to have a hard copy so you can get it done.

In my previous post you will see that I did silhouettes of the characters; they build and hung frames for me to work inside.  There was no frame above the fireplace so I had to paint it in.  (Straight lines are my big weakness - can I get an amen?)  I tried using a long paint stick to get the frame lines straight, but it was too painted.  Imagine that.  Finally I just eyeballed it and went for the long strokes.

This close you can see that it's a little wonky, but trust me, you can't see that from the audience.  If you really want to know the BIG SECRET, everything in theater looks a little wonky closeup.  Costumes, makeup, sets, props... doesn't matter.  What matters is the audience.

They nailed down the bouquet, of course, which also matters huge as this entire sets piece was wheeled in and out innumerable times.  The mantle was also built sturdily because Peter Pan flew up and stood upon it.
I had about 20 minutes to paint the entire ship, and as it was, they were already practicing flying before a show!  I had literally just removed the paint cans when Peter flew up there and almost got paint on her butt!   Yikes!

Because I had to do this quickly, I used big brushes; a 1/2" flat brush is my absolute smallest for sets, and I almost never even take one.  The background of the sky is almost all simply the wall color (hey, it matches!) with the addition of some grey-green clouds.  The final touches of those little yellow dots warmed up the entire feel of the piece, and the red flags added the much-needed flash of color.  I didn't have a brush small enough for the flags so did it with a finger dipped in paint.

Here are the brushes I used.... well, not quite... the three middle ones were the ones I used.  The two outsiders were used on a project at home.  If I HAD had that nice little flat brush on the left, I wouldn't have had to sully my fingers!  Sometime I'll show you my fingernails.  It's a pretty hopeless cause.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Once again, whatever it is you need painted, big or small, call me!  My number is 281-734-3362 and my website is

One last word on brushes; I think the big center one is a two inch flat.  It's been a favorite for years because I can hit hard with it and it always remains flat.  Good paint retention too.  The two rounded ones on each side of it are filberts, sometimes called cats' tongues (wonder why).  They don't show brushstrokes as much as a straight-edged brush.  The smallest guy is a 1/2" flat, a size which is one of my personal favorites, Bubba.  Lastly, the brush on the other side, the lowest brush, is a course acrylic or oil brush with completely stiff hairs like boar's hair or something.  It doesn't hold a lot of paint, but the stiffness works under a lot of conditions.  It's one of those brushes that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

You may note that some of them look a little sudsy?  They are.  Coming soon, a lesson on brush care.

No comments:

Post a Comment