I am really proud of the set that we have created. We have spent 2 weeks solidly building painting, and it has payed off. The set that we have created looks professional, and when inhabited with a person in character, it portrays a narrative.
This project has taught me a lot about the world of theatre design and construction. It has shown me that there is a lot more to consider when designing for shows. I need to be more thorough with my design process; for example I need to consider every finish and every join, all the small details are so important.
The group with our set:
This project Is testing to say the least. Working in a group is always stressful, and I think this project proves it can be done. This project is a taste of how group dynamics work in this line of work. We have a designer, a director and then work men. It is interesting for all of us to see how that plays out.
We are using a lot of new techniques throughout this project. It is interesting to learn all these new skills and to be forced to think about budget. The fact that we have just finished scenic arts week has really helped us with this project, it is enabling us to achieve high standards of finish.
A large portion of our set is wood grained. Katie decided that this should be old and worn pine. We have to wood grain the staircase and the top of the steel deck in exactly the same way for it to tie together well.
To begin we mixed a very light sandy colour as a base coat. This was then followed with a layer of glaze to lock in the paint. To create the pine colours we used a orange brown and a dark brown mixed together. The dark brown layer made the pine look more authentic and old, whereas the orange colour gave the pine the ‘pine’ colour. For the wood grain detail we used a special tool that you glide along the surface of the paint and it takes away paint where the grain should be.
Another trial we faced with this project was sourcing a red carpet to run up the centre of the staircase. To solve this we called up a local carpet retailer to ask if they had anything they could give us. They luckily were able to supply us with a length of brown carpet. So now the challenge of turning the carpet red came into play. For this we had to do multiple tests. From our tests we worked out that painting the carpet a base of bright red and then spraying into the edges with a dar burgundy was the best way. This two tone effect gave the illusion of a old carpet that has been used well. To further the worn idea we used rasps and files to make the carpet thinner and frayed in the more used areas.
Following on from the scenic arts week, we begun another skills based assignment. This project leads on from our set designs that we previously did for ‘The Thrill of Love’. The idea is that, in a group of 6, we select one design to build a section of.
When it came to selecting the design to build we needed to consider which design would give us the most to work with. We wanted something that had a lot of texture, and that also provided us with a challenging construction.
The design that we selected was Katie’s, this was because it had the most to play with. I personally liked the fact that this design would also allow us to play around with lighting as well to create interesting effects.
The first task that we were set within the scenic art week was to create a section of brick wall. The task seemed daunting at first due to the materials we were presented, however turned out to be relatively simple.
We were given a rectangular piece of MDF and a load of smaller brick sized pieces of soft board. Soft board was a good material to use when creating a brick surface, as when it was split in half it had a rough surface similar to that of a brick. We split each section of soft board in half using a scraper to slice it.
Reference images were given to us so that we could decide on a layout for the wall. It was important to know where to put full bricks and where to put half bricks. From this reference imagery I placed the bricks and then glued them to the board with PVA.
bricks stuck with PVA
After sticking the bricks to the MDF I covered the hole board in idenden, which is a paint that has a plastic content. This process creates a more durable, hard surface. This material created interesting effects, and allowed us to create more uneven mortar lines.
painting on idenden
The next step was to cover the whole board in a coat of black paint. This would be the base for our brick wall, It worked well to create an old style wall that had dark mortar lines.
On top of the black coat we simply rolled a selection of browns and reds using a small roller. This layering process is what provides the brick texture. The dollar, when pushed lightly, allowed the paint to not cover the whole surface. Black bits still seeped through, creating the illusion of weathering and dirt.
The last step was then to add a lighter colour into the mortar lines. This lighter colour was used to represent when the wall had previously been repointed and fixed.
The second element of the scenic arts week was creating 2 large graffitied canvases. These were split into small sections, giving each course member their own small piece to paint. The aim of the exercise was to look at painting to scale, and ultimately joining separate pieces of work together to form a whole.
I think the most difficult part of this exercise was making sure that each section matched up. We had to match painting styles with the people around us, meaning that we had to control our individual styles. This is not something I have ever had to consider before, however it is obviously something that will be very important in the world of theatre design. I think that we all learnt a lot by participating in this, and that it worked really well as a whole.
We were given a 1:25 scale photograph of a graffitied wall to begin with. We then had to translate a section of this to 1:1 scale onto canvas. This was surprisingly difficult as we had to use both our judgment and accurate measurement in order to make it look right and fit in with other peoples sections.
Each colour that we used had to be mixed and watered down until it matched what was in the photograph. Again, with this element we had to be able to work well in a team so that everything matched up. This led us to sharing the mixing process and to sharing colours across the whole canvas.
I really enjoyed the scenic arts week, and I think that the final piece was very striking. However I do not think that this will be the career path for me, as I ended up getting really bored of painting the same thing. It required a lot of patience.
This week we had a professional scenic artist visit us. She came to conduct a week dedicated to teaching us the basics of her profession. She talked us through what she did and showed us previous projects that she had completed. It was interesting to be told the exact tasks that fall underneath the job title ‘scenic artist’.
We were presented with a small model box that consisted of a large brick wall and two large painted canvases on a similar scale. This was to be what we would have to construct over the course of the week. Each person on the course would finish the week with a small section of the brick wall and a section of one of the canvases painted accurately.
Model box of the weeks tasks