Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Since I've written about "work" I though I might as well show you some.

Allen Moyer asked me to work as his assistant for a production of Elixir of Love which will be produced at the Saint Louis Opera this summer (2014).

Allen's scale model using the rendering from the San Francisco production.

It's a project I've worked on with him before for the Colorado Opera and the San Francisco Opera. For those two productions I was the Scenic Artist/Scenic Supplier as well (that means I not only painted the scale rendering but painted the full scale pieces in my studio)

Here's a record of painting the scale rendering for this production:

It's all based on Grant Wood paintings. The first job was to create a composition which fit onto the stage using Grant Wood as inspiration and scans from the previous show curtains. This was done in photoshop:

A little perspective fiddling had to be done to get everything to sit on the ground together.

This was going to be 3 walls. The total width 70'. We settled on 3/4" scale because of the size of illustration board available and the level of detail needed in the rendering. I was a bit concerned with that since I wouldn't be painting it myself and all the "shorthand" I'd used in the previous renderings needed to be written out longhand this time.

I printed out the photoshop piece at 3/4" scale onto vellum and then transferred the "cartoon" to board. I do this the old fashioned way with a paper I've rubbed with graphite. Store bought transfer papers leave a greasy mark where you've applied pressure which acts as a "resist" to the paint. 

After transferring the design to hot press watercolor board it was time to start. I prefer hot press because cold press is a  textured surface.  It's much easier to get a good calligraphic line on a smooth surface (and Scenic materials are normally smooth as well). This is 3 boards taped together.  

This is Cresent brand board. I like Strathmore *a lot* better it's got a tougher skin and absorbs better. The Cresent pulled up under some of the masking fluid (not good).  

Since it's watercolor it will always be highlights first- shadows after.

I did this in 6 hour days. That's primarily because the light was right for 6 hours. Too early or too late and the colors start to change. 

Day 2

Day 3. There's endless detail in Grant Wood you just have to pull back and stop at some point.

Day 4 and I start to fill in the fields. 

I've used masking fluid (rubber cement) to cover the people in the fields.

Finally on day 5 it's beginning to look like something.

Now on Day 6 it's time for some "sweetening"

I cover the entire painting in masking film and start peeling back specific areas. Actually this is from my stash of Zipatone Parapaque photographic blocking film- it's much better than low tack masking film but no longer available.

These areas are spattered with color to add depth,

  and texture.

Then it's time to pull all the masking film off and do a few touch ups…

and then off to FedX

I hope to post pictures of the full scale production later this summer.

Here's a little taste from the San Francisco production.

This is a big challenge to light since it has so many delicate colors and it's difficult not to have something go to mud during a cue. If you want to see how Paul Palazzo solved that problem- buy the dvd.