Next to painting wood to look like different wood, painting a flat surface to look 3-dimensional is the bread and butter of many scenic artists. Painting a muslin or velour drop to look like a voluminous curtain is one of our best tricks, and what separates the good from the great.
In this video Danny McManus, Assistant Head Scenic Artist, explains how he and Janet Shearn painted the iconic show curtains appearing in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 production of 42nd Street. They make it look so easy!
Designed by Debra Hanson, Danny and Janet use the proper placement of darks and lights to create a lot of volume out of nothing. What really sells the effect is the how they approached the gold trim and tassels. “Detail is retail”, as they say, and it’s what really helps tell the “story” of the curtain.
When you look at the way the paint is sitting on the fabric, and how it gathers at the seams, it is easy to see that they are paining on velour. Painting wood to look like different wood, painting velour to look like different velour- is there a pattern here?
Painting on velour is trickier than traditional muslin because of the thickness created by the threads. When done correctly, the paint sits on top of the fabric. When lit correctly on stage, it has an amazing amount of depth and vibrancy that muslin just can’t achieve.
If you are new to The Scenic Route and the Guild of Scenic Artists, click here for one of our earlier stories about the crew at The Muny in St. Louis painting for the 2017 USITT conference (now with updated photos thanks to Peter Finklestein!).
And staying within the same color theme and time period, check out this post here full of eye candy from our trip to the St. Louis Masonic Temple!