SCENERY PAINTING FOR THE AMATEUR MUSICAL THEATRE and PANTOMIME
|First Page of painting the backcloth|
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NOTES TO ACCOMPANY PAINTING THE "KING AND I" BACKCLOTH
Depth. The School stage is small in depth so I need to increase that feeling of depth with my painting by including distant mist and degraded colours. A gap as an "escape" for the eye.(When painting a room interior I always include a "way out" - a door, window, arch, hole. Anything to avoid claustrophobia and that theory is just as relevant for Robin Hood's Camp in the forest)
General. The painting will be used in several scenes so I cannot tie my picture down to a particular time of day or weather. Pity... no chance for a dramatic sunset or the mist of an early dawn) The brief from the designer was :- "a general symbolic version of Siam".
Heat and Light. It's Thailand - so I must convey heat and bright sky. Reflected light from one building onto another. Deep shadows. Light thrown up under the roof of the bell porch on the right for example. But unfortunately there's little opportunity to include "cast" shadows which are great for "showing" the surface on which they lie This painting will include too much foliage for that. I am using foliage from which my architectural features will emerge.
Foreground colour. Strong colours in the foreground.
Colour. Colour is a problem. I concentrate more on values and contrast rather than hue. (A Black and white photo is a series of values not colours) Yes I will be painting in colour. However, I am working under tungsten lights which will affect the appearance of my colours. And in any case, the painted colours will take on different hues when the stage lighting is put on, particularly when the stage lighting is changed to reflect a particular mood/effect for the scene.
Foreground. I try to have at least one foreground feature which is life-size, so actors standing beside it look correct and there is a natural lead-in to the backcloth.(In this case the two dragon statues on either side)
Overlaps Increase the feeling of depth. Dragon and branches in front of a wall which is in front of roofs and so forth.
Scale. The bigger the Temple the smaller the trees which surround it. I want an impressive Temple so - small trees.
A frame. The top of the painting could either fade into oblivion or be framed. I have elected to frame along part of the top with boughs and brilliant red flowers/leaves.
Humour. Even in the most lively professional production there are always times when the audience' eyes wanders over the scenery. So for those little moments I try to include a touch of humour here or there. The flowers on the right mimicked flowers painted on one of the school's corridors. Bit of an "in" joke this for the youngsters. Also they all enjoyed the fire bell painted with red flowers.
Contrast. I aim for an excuse to have contrast in colours and shapes. As I am not slavishly painting an actual view I can put in elements and moves trees and buildings about to accomplish this.
A main feature. Often when someone is describing one of my paintings they say."You know the one with the thingie in it" In this case I hope they will say "... The one with the temple in it"
Sunshine. The direction of sun. The choice is mine and depends where I want my shadows. Which is decided by where I can use a shadow to its most advantageous to show off something in front of it. I always put a cartoon sun in my pencil sketch to remind me
Changes? Once painting gets underway I do not stick rigidly to my original thoughts but change things as the work progresses. I daren't change the main shapes of course as I would get hopelessly lost.
Busy? Not too "Busy". When designing/painting a backcloth I walk the tightrope of giving the audience the "Wow" factor and yet at the same time the artwork must not dominate the costumes and actors.
Painterly. I aim for a "painterly" feel. Not a photographic likeness.