|Questions and Answers, - Interior of old wooden building|
|".....We use flats for our
stage background. We are going to be doing a play which would portray the
inside of a old western wood building. I have no idea how to start to paint
the flats so they will look like wooden boards when done. Are there any
ideas that you can help me with?
Thanks, Vince" (Villages, at Lynx Creek Drama Club, Nr Prescott, Arizona)
Hi Vince, Thanks for the email....First off ....WHAT TO PAINT
A solid wall of old wooden planks is a little claustrophobic for the audience. The advice given to artists is to give the viewer's eye somewhere “to escape” such as a window or partially open door.
Not knowing your play I can’t advise on the type of window (high up?) or sort of door (off its hinges?)
Details are what will make your scenery come alive.
|Your barn will inevitably have had lots of repairs done to
it over the years.
Extra planks and patches.
Extra supporting beams at crazy angles.
Some of the planks will have rotted letting the light through.
Then there will be the back of the door where people would have cleaned old paint brushes so here’s a chance for some contrasting colours with perhaps smears of red or green.
|I have gone a little silly with the crazy angle of this door
- looks as if the place is about to fall down.
Are we talking arid desert here? If so the planks will be grey/yellow and sun bleached. Whereas in a more lush atmosphere the planks will be various shades of brown with even some green mould.
|Now here are some tips on HOW TO PAINT
If possible, assemble your flats as they will appear on the stage and work on them all at the one time hopping from one side to another so you get the random effect of the planks. (I attack brick walls in the same manner). This way will enable you to also darken and dirty down any corners where flats meet each other at angles (Returns and reveals). But ensure your flats are assembles in the theatre in exactly the same position otherwise you will have clean areas lines appearing in these corners. So take some paint and cloths with you to the theatre to rectify these errors.
Decide what treatment you plan to use i.e. “artistic” or “cartoon” These
are my own terms for the two systems. “Artistic” is painting
using shadows, atmosphere, perspective etc. Whereas “Cartoon” is
the use of a black (or dark colour) outline with the colour filled
in. I personally rarely use outlines. There’s no such thing in
real life. Outlines give a commercial, children’s book illustration
effect. (See “Santa’s Workshop” on this site). However
outlines help to define the objects in your scene so are a quick shorthand
way of painting scenery.
OK let’s get on with the work.
|Now comes the fun bit, which is a technique called sgraffito (This is the origin of "graffiti") and means scraping back.|
Assuming this is arid desert climate with sun bleached timber, then the final task is to get more scrunched up newspaper, dip into a tray of white and scrub this all over your scenery to give it a thin veil of light colouring.
And when all that is done, what about the odd spider's web in the corners?
Go easy on these and don’t paint a whole web but just put in a few
white/yellow lines to hint the daylight is striking them.
PS A tip. When preparing to paint the sky colour outside of the window, Cover the glazing bars with masking tape and then you can paint your sky without having to paint around the bars. Then once the sky is dry peel off the tape and paint the bars the appropriate timber colour.
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