Not a lot of action

I got the point and will keep this blog going. Thanks for the comments everyone. I just wasn't sure that people were looking.

Things have been slow at work and I've done little to no painting. After Christmas I'll get the blog going again. I need to get my portfolio into flickr to post those pics and show some past work.

I'm curious

Does anyone read this? Lisa is the only one who comments. Hrm, maybe a contest is in order. Painting for comments or something...I'll think about it.

Monday news

Not really what one hopes to hear when one gets up on Monday...

for one talks fell through on the Local 1 Stagehands strike.

and then this: Student dies at Yale Rep.
Update article.

Theatrical accidents are never good, but do bring to light many sketchy things that we do. How many of us have done something risky and nowhere near OSHA approved thinking "oh I'll be fine." I have a friend who broke his back falling from a ladder while hanging lights. Too many times a cavalier attitude is taken towards safety. We've all done it, some sporatically, some with frightening consistency. I use to get mocked for wearing my respirator, and scoffed at when I told others (mainly carpenters) to put on theirs. I'm forever yelling at love to put his on. I don't know where this attitude comes from....well I know where mine comes from. I'm ashamed to say much of mine comes from the fact that I'm a 5'2" petite female in a male dominated business. For some reason toughness and lack of safety sense have been linked and I was sucked into that mindset while fighting to prove myself. Thankfully I've learned (for the most part) since then. Robb's accident really shook me up, as did meeting and learning from Monona Rossol (who totally rocks by the way). Pregnancy is a huge wake up call. I can tell you that I don't plan on losing another baby by doing something irresponsible and stupid to prove how tough I am; or how hard core old school I am either. It's not worth it.

Ok enough of my early morning soap box rant. Happy Monday.

Loading in

Wednesday we started load in, which involves loading all the scenery from the shop into a truck (usually in multiple trips) and taking it to the theatre to assemble on stage. This process also involves a lot of coffee, ibuprofen and swearing.

Here's a few pictures of the process...

Parade Load in 1

Parade Load in 2

It has been fun, tiring and some time frustrating. I've done work that I've not done in years. Most places the scenic doesn't do load in. On the last show I was still painting much of the set. I told the guys flat out that I'd do what I could but I couldn't guarantee that I would know what I was doing. I think I impressed the pants off of some of them with how hard I worked (and my gutter mind). Friday ended with issues regarding the scrim foliage for the tree and a rendering that defies all laws of physics. Tomorrow will be interesting.

Parade Load in 3

Oak, Lots o' Oak

Before we started load in this week I was painting furniture like crazy. Tons of Oak. Here's some pictures of the process.

Judges Bench 1

Judges Bench 2

Judges Bench 3

This desk started out painted flat black, blue and grey. I forgot to get a picture of the before. I'm rather proud of how it turned out.
Oak Desk 2

Oak Desk 3

Oak Desk 4

I know some of the pictures are quite blurry. I just can't seem to take non-blurry ones with this camera lately.
To save space backstage we're using this desk as three different pieces. To change the look we have inserts for the panels:

Oak Desk 6

and a wrap-around facing:
Oak Desk 5

Out out damn spot...

Macbeth is done and is being struck as I write. But here it is:

Macbeth complete 2

Remember the rendering I was given little over a month ago? I'm not sure the branches ever made it up. That is a topic I'd rather avoid discussing. There is always one thing in a show that is irksome and laborious. Those damn branches were it on this one. I have more detailed pictures but they are quite blurry. Love is going to take a few shots before strike today.

Here is the head, the rake and some of the cloud boxes:
Head and rake

Load in looked like this after the first night. We got the tiles on the rake and I sealed them. The eye was hung and the drippy blood installed. I'm still painting the clock. That's the blue blob on the floor.
Macbeth Load in 1

This after the second night. The clock, the arch and the head were installed. The clock is still missing it's numbers and hands in this shot.
Macbeth Load in 2

Here's a picture of the stage right proscenium flats. This is the first time that we have wrapped them to the side walls. The wood paneling there is quite a curse but I refuse to paint it black as has been suggested at times. As I point out, such a thing is easy to paint but a pain in the ass to un-paint as no doubt would be requested.

This is one of my favorite parts of the set...the drippy blood over the front edge of the stage. The stairs were designed to be all red. I felt that looked horrible once I laid in the primer coat. I suggested to the designer that we continue the drippy blood look and she agreed. I think it works quite well
Drippy blood

I'm glad it is done. I'll be painting Macbeth for the University later this season so it seems I can never escape the show. Fitting though. I was in Macbeth when I decided to switch my major from art to theatre.

More Clapboards

For those of you who thought my clapboard hell ended with the pretty wall never fear...
these are the side walls.

Legs  1

I actually finished these a few weeks ago.

Legs 2

I've actually finished a bunch of other things not worth taking pictures of and I'm waiting for them to finish building the last piece. So I've been bored...incredibly bored.

skies in our eyes

Artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue. Those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid.
Jules Feiffer
US cartoonist & satirist (1929 - )
I've been living sky lately, haven't I? I've been a busy girl...

I did some more work on the bloody head:

Macbeth head 1

This is the beginnings of the proscenium stage right:

door wall one

And then there are the cloud boxes. These are 8 multi-functional boxes used throughout the show. When first seen they look like this:

Cloud Boxes

Here they must work as a whole. But then the clouds must work all around each box as well. You can see some of that here on the side.

Clouds side view

But there is more. For the banquet scene they are lined across the stage and have silhouettes of chess pieces on them.

Cloud boxes chess side

Again it all has to work over the whole box:

chess side view

And here's how I added the silhouettes.

box 1

I started with a full scale line drawing of the pieces. I used a big safety pin and a pounce wheel to poke holes in the line. That was laid over a painted box. Then I take a little muslin bag filled with powdered charcoal and "pounce" it over the holes. Let me tell you it is hard to take a picture of yourself doing this.

pounce 1

This is the result:

pounce 2

From here I ink the charcoal outline.

pounce 3

After that I just fill in the outline with paint. This is a good process if you have to repeat a pattern. I used a single pounce for all the fire escapes/windows in this production of West Side Story. For the reverse I merely cleaned off the pounce and flipped it over.

West Side Story


Wall complete

Well the big pretty wall is finished. I finished it on Friday. We struck Caucasian Chalk Circle on Monday morning and picked this wall up on Monday afternoon. It was too large to get a good shot from above but here it is in two pictures.

wall stage right
wall stage left

And this is the infamous breakthrough. Not a total disaster. I did have a few foot print marks but they disappeared with subsequent sprays. Overall I think I'm happy with it. We'll see what the designer says. The wall is way the heck upstage anyway.


Clapboards...endless clapboards.

How I hate clapboards. I've painted about 70 sheets of lauan ripped into 6" boards. The lighting designer requested that the edges be painted dark gray. I prime the good side with a roller, let dry, flip over paint the edges and back (as back paint) dark gray, let dry, flip over and then prime the good side again to cover any spooges of the gray. Plus lauan is thirsty and needed two coats on the good side. I think that took me about a week done in two batches. I developed some lovely blisters on my hands. What are all those boards for???

Parade Rendering

This rendering is what is provided by the designer to work from. The odd reflection is from the plastic wrap I put over it to protect the original. This allows me to draw on it as needed. I've drawn the clapboards on the colored wall as well as the structual breaks in the wall. Half of the clapboards will go to the colored wall on the left and half will be grey walls on the right.

Here is the wall ready for me to paint. Per the designer, I need not go with the rigid pixelated look of the rendering. That is there because he just ran it through a Photoshop filter. Some days I think Photoshop is the worst thing to happen to scenics.

Clapboard Wall 1

This is after the first day of painting. I'm using both a larger pneumatic sprayer and the smaller detail gun. The cans along the bottom indicate where the framing is underneath, running top to bottom. Those are the only safe places to step. So I am balancing on 1x framing on 30" centers while trying to manipulate a sprayer and hose and not step in wet paint while following the rendering. I still prefer this to retail.

Clapboard wall 2

After second day.

Clapboard Wall 3

After third day (today) Sad to say this was the day I broke through one of the boards...cracked it more really. Nothing a little glue and gaff tape can't fix. I hope to have this complete tomorrow. Then I can move onto the gray walls.

Clapboard Wall 4

Macbeth progress

Here's the pictures I mentioned.

Checkerboad Tiles

These are all the checkerboard tiles for the raked platform. I have a feeling once the are in they will need a coat of sealer. Otherwise they are done.

Head WIP

This is the big, bloody head. She needs a little work on her shadows on the side of her face.

Otherwise I've been doing things that really don't warrant pictures. There are 8 cubes that get a cloud/sky design and chess pieces on them. I've merely turned them blue at the moment. Tonight I primed the stage right procenium walls and painted the stage left one (singular as only one was available to me tonight) black. The clock flat will go on top of these two. Now the clock hands move. The primed ones are the clouds and doorway stuff. I like to let primer cure overnight, especially when it is raining this much.


Well, I think the head is done. I may do a little tweaking later tonight. I have a few hours off right now.
I finished the third coat on the black tiles and have the third to go on the white, then those will be complete until installed. I may find that they need a coat of sealer later, but I'd like them to cure first. The can says full cure takes ten days.
Frankly the eye is just pissing me off. There's always one project that just kills me. I think this is it. I'm going to pull it up and attach it to the flat once love finishes building it tonight. The flat would be done but the breaker in the shop tripped the other day and we don't have access to the breaker panel. We put in a request to remedy this but they haven't done it yet. So after love is done with strike for his full time job, he's gonna string an extension cord across the parking lot to finish this. Tomorrow starts his 88 hour week. Yes, I did say EIGHTY EIGHT hour work week. And upper management signed off on those hours.
Anywho, I'll finish the eye once it is on the flat. I need to get it in place and look at it from the audience before I pass final judgment on how it is going.

plugging away

I've been insanely busy with these two shows...not to mention insomnia and a surprise UTI after doctor's hours that cost me half a days painting yesterday. I'll have some pictures and details soon.


This is the design for Macbeth.

Macbeth rendering

Fun, no?
The influence are M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, and Magritte.

I am starting with the Eye flat. Since we don't have our lumber yet, I am painting the fabric as I would a drop and then we will glue it to the flat. I tell the tale of our muslin woes on my Gothknits blog. First I draw a box on the floor the size of the muslin and staple it down. I will at some point do a step by step of this process, but not now. Often it isn't smooth and pretty when stapled down.

Wrinkly muslin

That is what starch is for. Just plain old laundry starch. After it is applied and dries you get something that looks like this:
Starched Drop

Then I brushed on a base coat (in this case a pale grey) and the then two sprays of the same color. From there I snapped lines indicating the outer edges of the flat. I also marked some grid lines outside the muslin to help keep everything in the proper proportions. I sketched out the major details; the pupil, the iris, the eyelid and folds.
Drop Primed and Sketched

The little ho-ha in the center is a skully I drew in homage to the original artwork. In our version the pupil will be a hole in the flat.

Skully boy

Then I started painting. I am painting it with pneumatic sprayers (like this and this) to keep the look of the original piece.This is what I had at the end of this stint of painting. I was getting frustrated with it and needed to stop. I also needed some parts to hook up my airbrush to my air supply.
Eye 9-29-07


Not much has been built yet for the next University show. Actually we just got our lumber delivery on Thursday, during lunch of course. So far all I have done is laid out the tree for the carpenters to cut out. We laid out the lauan on my paint deck and I drew from the designer's drafting. The tree will be solid while the leaves will be done in scrim so when lit from behind you will see the solid branches.

Tree layout

I snapped out a 1 foot grid on the upper portions to keep me sane. The x's mark the areas to be cut out. I actually pulled out one of my old art tricks I learned back in high school for this...Draw the negative spaces. This means rather than drawing the branches of the tree I drew the spaces between them. Much much easier. Hey I don't have a lot of sanity to spare. Anything to save what I can.

Tree layout closeup

I also drew most of it upside down. I find it helpful when I am looking too much a the whole thing and just getting lost. Looking at it upside down gives a fresh perspective and you see things you didn't before. When I worked in framing at the retail store, we always faced the art towards the customer. Seeing upside down helped us to look at the colors rather than the subject of the art.

The Shop

Well I finally got a chance to clean the shop and quasi-organize it to my liking. I re-papered the floor as well. I've managed to find some strange things amongst the supplies. Like old fashioned hair dryers...the ones where there's a bag over your head. There's two of them...for what I have no clue. But here's a few pictures of my home away from home. (Sorry they're so blurry. I can't really tell until I upload them here at home)

This is my "desk" area. Yeah it's right next to the file cabinet. I just repainted that bulletin board as well. I need a picture to hang above that and cover that nasty old Romex cable.
My desk

This is a view of my space from my desk.
Shop from Desk

This is it from the garage door. The beyond area is the scene shop. The openness makes for a dusty area, so I have to be vigilant about cleaning. And coordinate things like using polyurethane at times they aren't creating dust.
Shop from Garage Door

Here's my paint mixing area:
Paint Mixing Table

And here is further down the wall with my brush board. Bit by bit I've been painting all my shelves gloss black. I usually go white with these things but the black was the only gloss I had. I prefer the gloss because it holds up better and is easier to clean. Plus gloss black is just sexy.

So this is where I spend my days.