We're only one month in and already RADA has been transformed from the place we were introduced to at induction week! Down in the construction and scenic art department things have been insanely busy with Dan's team of TTSM scenic art rotation group painting the lovely blue peeling walls, red bricks and sandy floor of the GBS show, In the Summer House. Meanwhile the Vanbrugh and the Gielgud have received equally careful attention with a beautifully serene, minimal set for the former and a grimy, dirt encrusted interior for the latter.
The scenic art specialists however haven't been part of this process of transformation, but instead are working on a series of small projects here in scenic art and over in props.
After the inductions were over we spent a lovely relaxing week recreating a painting each from the Scottish Colourist movement, which eased us in nicely to the course. Then in week 2 we latched on to the TTSM props rotation group and spent a delicious week making face and hand casts, fake food and having a go on the wood turning lathe. Prop making was so much fun that by the end of the week I was fully ready to request a transfer. Well, not quite, but I was very sad to leave!
On our return to scenic art we were introduced to one of the most useful and versatile tools to a scenic artist, a spray gun. Dan (Scenic Art Tutor) first introduced us to these tools by imposing a day of cleaning in order to 'best get to know the gun' We took them apart, examined the parts and scraped away the gunge and dried paint that gathers inside. The next step was to actually find out how to use them. Spray guns previously have always felt a little alarming and slightly intimidating to me. As oppose to a paintbrush over which I feel I have control, I felt that with one tiny wrong squeeze of the handle, a thick fog of paint could erupt and disfigure my entire work. However with some patient tutoring and a long period of experimentation this feeling has almost vanished. The brief for this project was to choose a photograph which we felt we could realistically reproduce on a very large, 2m-ish scale and would allow us to employ a range of different spray gun effects. I have been amazed by the versatility of the guns mark making range, from sharp edges using cut out paper shapes, dottling, misty hazes and so much more. The photo I chose is one that I took a few years ago of a flock of mostly out of focus pigeons in a park. It has certainly been a challenge. At first glance the birds merely appear blurry but as I looked further and further into the image to try and work out how best to tackle it, small abstract shapes and strange patterns surfaced. Reproducing these has been not only a huge challenge, but after a week of painting grass, a big test of my patience! The task for next week is to get the grass to now look less like snakeskin and more like... grass! The project has so far been a really lovely excuse to indulge in some cathartic photograph interpretation. Something I haven't done for a long time but am finding very enjoyable. Although in the real working world a scenic artist would never solely use a spray gun and forgo brushes, this exercise is a brilliant way of allowing us to really get to know the guns and equiping us with the skills to use them with complete confident and ease. Two more weeks to go on this project. Hopefully that's enough time to successfully spray in all the feathers and individual blades of grass!