I have often found that many people don’t understand how scenic painting works. The fact that we can make a bare stage look like anything we want with the right brushes, rollers, or other tools seems like a foreign concept to some. I think part of this is a lack of understanding of what a scenic artist does. We don’t just make it up as we go along.
There are specific tools that we can use, and certain types of paint that work better than others. But knowing all the different tools and paints that are available to use is half the battle. Knowing the differences between paint and glaze, or a regular brush and a chip brush. To most a paint brush is a paint brush, and a sponge is just something you use in the kitchen sink. However, a sponge to a scenic artist, is also something that you can use to make stone come alive with dimension, to add depth to something that looks flat, or to age a piece of furniture. The list of things a scenic artist can do with any given tool is long; and depending on what job needs to be done will determine what tools will be use. Sometimes those tools will vary depending on what paint is being use. So again, one of the most important things to remember, is to have a good basic understanding of what is used when it comes to scenic painting.
The Educational Theatre Association has put together a great list of what is required for Painting The Scene. The article goes in depth into the different tools and paint that are used, as well as multiple different techniques that can be done with the brushes that you have at your disposal. It is an great resource and you should save it for future reference.
So the next time you pick up a paint brush remember that it can be used for something other than just slapping paint onto something.
The painting work for Henry V by Shakespeare has been a several step process. Whenever there is painting that takes multiple layers to get to your final product, it takes more time to get finished because of paint drying time between layers. However the end product is always worth the wait. For Henry V the set is very bare, not many added pieces and most of the stage is set on a rake. This adds another element to painting because you can not paint on the stage or the paint will run. So all of the stage painting was done on the floor and added to the stage when it was finished. It was done as a three tone wetblend, writing was added on top of that, which we sealed with a clear glaze. After it was sealed the large text was added on top of the main center stage area, than the whole stage was dry brushed with two different glazes. One glaze was simply tinted black, the other has a textured black metallic paint added to it. This added a couple things to the stage for us, one, it gave it a rougher finish so that the actors won’t slip as easily, especially working on a rack, and two, it added a bit more shine to the finish. The finished product has the actors walking and acting on Shakespeare’s words as they perform. Bellow are several pictures of the process and the finished work.
Step 2 in the painting process, adding the text.
We used this to set up and paint all of the flooring.
Section with the most layering.
Finished floor with rendering. Already put onto the stage.