From faux to factual
Christina Rodriguez ’15, a resident of Cabot House concentrating in Visual and Environmental Studies Studio Art Track, was awarded an Office for the Arts/Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Artist Development Fellowship to attend a scenic painting course at Cobalt Studios in Bethel, New York. Rodriguez has served as scenic designer and/or master painter for over 15 Harvard theater productions, and last summer she was a scenic painting and props intern with the Wolf Trap Opera Company. After graduation her goals are to work in the professional theater world as a scenic painter. This is the second in a series of posts written by Christina about her learning experience at Cobalt Studios this summer (click here to read the first).
My second week at Cobalt Studios was thoroughly enjoyable. We spent much of the week applying the texturing and paint application techniques we covered during the first week to create a variety of faux finishes. We painted old weathered wood, and finely stained wood, marble cornices, and patterned drapery. It is truly amazing how paint can transform a flat surface into a seemingly dimensional piece.
The steps to each of these projects are really quite simple. First we apply an appropriately blended base coat, either directional or scumbled, depending on the intended finished product. Then the desired texture is added to the piece, and finally the highlights, shades, and shadows are added to give the piece shape.
One of my favorite pieces to work on was the fine faux wood piece. The figuring of the wood grain was so much fun. We all practiced on brown paper for a good 20 minutes to a half-hour, simply making concentric squiggly shapes with our sash brushes at the end of our bamboo sticks. I found that there are certain ways of holding a bamboo that afford a much greater amount of control. It also became apparent that once you push the brush away from your body, it is unwise to try to swing it back toward your body. For this reason, circles, and other closed oblong shapes must be made with at the least two strokes.