Snow in July?

Sometimes the themes of drops and other scenic projects coincide with similar themes in your life in a perfect moment of Kismet. And sometimes not so much. I'm unsure what category to place my current project.

A snowy forest in July. It's a tad hard to get the feel of snow when the temperatures outside are 90° and beyond. But then again, when you are knee deep in snow, do you really want to spend your day staring at more snow? I'm leaning towards the drops as a nice little vacation from the heat. Kind of like the old York Peppermint Patty commercials.

This wintery wonderland is for our Community Dance Division's production of The Nutcracker. The last several years they have been renting drops for the show. Because of the cost this means the drops are rented for the shortest amount of time possible which creates problems because it limits load-in and rehearsal. The department has (finally) decided to make the investment and have it's own set built. And guess who was somehow convinced to design it? Yep. Me.

So that big ball of crazy above is my own fault. But that also means I can tweak things as I need to along the way. It also makes the process much easier because the full design will be built over several years. A few drops this year. A few more the next. My being on staff means I'm around to deal with things over the course of the project. Another designer might not be available when we get to some elements in a year or two.

And that is what I am currently up against.

Normally this time of year I am off contract and not working for the University. Which is usually ok (minus the lack of paychecks) since our shop isn't air conditioned. Multiple Sclerosis and heat are not a happy mix. With the back to back heat waves that have become the summer trend, I could easily end up in the hospital. Luckily for me, my husband has a paint shop not in use at the moment. A paint shop that is larger and climate controlled. A very nice thing.

With my own paint deck I would only be able to lay out the larger drop above. The two side legs would then have to be painted after that was finished. Now I am able to lay out everything all at once, which greatly helps in keeping a consistent look amongst the drops.

Here is what it looks like all laid out in the shop.

  The drops are on black plastic. Typically I would use bogus paper underneath the drops, but since I am using a flexible glue sizing I have to switch to plastic. Apparently the paper and the glue size don't play nice. The reason I've switched to a flexible size is that these drops will be used year after year and folded up and stored in between shows.

I ran short of gridded paper, therefore I had to use a string grid and draw directly on the legs.  Here is a closer shot of the string grid and the rendering.

The finished layout below. 

The larger drop I used gridded paper for the major layout. This allowed me to adjust the drawing and make some mistakes without it ruining everything.

 There we are...laid out, inked, and with a thin white base.

For this drop I'm not drawing out every single line of every single branch. My drawings are just giving me the location of general shapes.  I'm not doing paint-by-number accuracy for these. To non-Scenics, most of these lines make no sense to them.

 That was made very apparent to me by the questions my husband was asking while I was inking the layout.

 Then it was time to start laying in color...after the mandatory prayer to the Painting Gods. (Please don't let me fuck this up).

Working background first, I start laying in the color of the beautiful pinky-violet glow. First a general spray.

 Then with more intensity.

And that's where I had to stop because I ran out of paint.


These pictures look far more violet than the actual drops. Until here is the drop versus the rendering.

My paint should arrive on Monday. That will give me some time to finish designing the rest of the show.

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