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God of Carnage - Scenic Painting by MelissaFindley God of Carnage - Scenic Painting by MelissaFindley
In addition to the set design, I also was the lead scenic painter for "God of Carnage." I like to personally paint my own sets, though many designers do not. In addition, at the level of theater I work at, it's hard sometimes to find people who can do this kind of work as volunteers. I did have a few assistants for this process (it's time consuming, painting something that covers the entire stage!), but the majority of the work you see is my own. 

I thought it might be fun to share the process, for anyone who has ever wondered about painting something like this. 

Photo 1: First, the stage is primed. Sometimes this isn't necessary, it the previous floor was all one color. But in our case, the previous show (Twelfth Night) had a very swirly pattern of dark and light blue over the entire stage, so priming took it back to a blank slate. We primed to white since the floor would be light colored. You can see that the front of the stage is still painted from "Twelfth Night" and the back wall is still painted from "Frankenstein" (it had been covered up by previous shows and somehow survived behind curtains). We taped off the center portion, which was going to be red.

Photo 2: Base coat. 
Rolled out a nice solid base coat in a sandy color. Looks a little peach colored in the lighting here. The base coat is in a semi-gloss paint. 

Photo 3: Lines
This step is tedious, and I had several helpers for it. We used a 8" wide board to figure out how wide each floorboard would be, then a straight edge was laid down. We started off with brown markers, but the lines weren't reading from a distance, so switched to hand painting thick brown lines, using the straight edge as a guide. Vertical lines were then added at measured distances so that the boards had a staggered look. 

Photo 4: Texture!
I mixed up two different texture colors, one that was tinted slightly pink-brown, and the other was tinted blue-gray. These texture paints are acrylic heavily diluted with water, so they have almost the consistency of water colors. I used jagged old paint brushes with notches cut in them and painted all in one direction, painting each "board" individually so that no two were alike. 

Photo 5: RED
The director wanted, originally, for the center of the stage to be red carpet. However, since there's a scene where this portion of the floor would get very wet, we decided it would be easier to clean if this was painted as well. I went with a very, very bright crimson color for the base coat. Then repeated the same steps for this section as for the outer two sections. The boards here were drawn much narrower (about 4" wide) and ran vertically instead of horizontally. The texture coat mixed browns and blacks.

Photo 6: DONE!
After it all cured for a full day, a couple of layers of clear, water-based polyurethane were laid down to give it a glossy look and to prevent it from getting scratched up by the actor's feet and any theater equipment that would be dragged over it when the set went up. Here you can see how it looks with the furniture and set in place. 

One of the best compliments I got on this was from a long-time actor and theater patron who asked me, after one show, if we'd stripped the floor and stained it. He had to actually step on stage and look at it closely to realize that it was just paint!

Final set here:
God of Carnage - Set Design by MelissaFindley
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Emari-chan Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014
I didn't realize looking at your pictures that it was paint, either. i actually had to read your description. EXCELLENT work.
zapfino Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014  Professional General Artist
NICE!!! Beautiful treatment! Great show to work on as well. 
GwynConawayArt Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Professional
beautifully done!
LocationCreator Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
Very cool! I have submitted this to our #Theatre Artists group. I hope you approve.
SpitfireFae Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
Honestly, I thought it was wood, not paint when I saw your original set pictures. 

Seeing the process is really cool!  Makes me want to get involved in the local theater and work on sets
MelissaFindley Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
If I inspire even one person to get involved with their local theater, then I feel like posting these here is time well spent. :) 

Seriously, your local community theater is (unless they're VERY lucky) more than likely starved for volunteers. Particularly volunteers interested in working on sets. Every community theater I've ever volunteered at always had people lining up to act or direct or dance or sing -- but almost no one to assist with sets and lights and sound. We're always trying to find more people. 

I am, at the moment, one of the more prolific set designers for our theater. We only really have a handful of set designers here in town, and I've done two, sometimes three sets a year for the last few years. I also get called in to paint on a regular basis. 

So yes, go check out your local theater. Check their website or call them up or drop by and say "hi! I like to paint. Can I help with a set? I want to learn!" and chances are they'll snap you up. 
LocationCreator Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
Absolutely true! Our community theatre is full of needs and potential.
iAmLovely Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
At all the theatres I have been involved with the floor is sacred.  The idea that you paint your floor is just astonishing to me.  In your previous photos of this set I thought the regular wood was your theatre's natural floor, and the stained red wood was a slightly raised piece you had created.  
MelissaFindley Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
I've worked at a couple of theaters where the floor is treated as sacred -- it seems most common in very old theaters where they want to preserve the history of the building or something. But I've also worked at more than a few where the stage is absolutely part of the set and is often painted. 

We joke sometimes that the stage, at this point, is more paint than wood. Consider that we do around 6 MainStage shows a season, and each show is at LEAST one coat of paint, probably more. That's 6-12 layers of paint per season, and the last time we stripped the floor was around 2000 … it's a lot of paint. :) Every so often something will happen (a piece of equipment might catch and gouge up a bit of paint or peel it back) and it's like the rings on a tree. You can look at the colors and count back shows. 

We've been discussing stripping it again. It's only been done once since our current stage was built, but it's getting to be about time again. 
iAmLovely Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
Most of the theatres I have been with were older, one was on the registry for historic buildings.  Except that one, my experience makes me think it is more of a monetary or tradition thing.  Possibly even that simply nobody had thought of it before.  

It is probably at least half paint by now.  Those rings sound really neat though, I would like to take pictures of them.  

I do not envy you trying to strip that floor.  Although it sounds like it sorely needs doing.  
MelissaFindley Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
A lot of shows can get by with a nice wood floor or a neutral black floor. I just feel like it adds so much more to a set when you can take it that step further and bring the floor into it and make it part of the set. I have a few other sets I've worked on that I'm planning to upload, and for all but one we painted the floor.

iAmLovely Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
Painting the floor certainly helped create the scene on this set.  I look forward to seeing them!  
Sophia-Christina Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
That is an awesome compliment!!!! I seeing artists post the work involved because it is a lot of work and not everyone understands that. Once again wonderful work!
keight Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014
Yay, Mel. That is on heck of a great compliment!
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Submitted on
January 28, 2014
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