the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Archive for February 2011

Helplessness Blues (New Music Mondays!)

leave a comment »

I almost forgot about New Music Mondays! Which would have been such a shame, because I’ve listened to this song almost fifty times in the last three days.


It’s that good.

Just. Just listen to it.

New Fleet Foxes single : “Helplessness Blues”

This track reminds me a lot of Steinbeck, East of Eden, and the sweeping American spirit. And it connects to the existential crisis our generation is facing. A lyrical sampling:

I was raised up believing
I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes
Unique in each way you can see

And now after some thinking
I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
Serving something beyond me

But I don’t, I don’t know what that will be
I’ll get back to you someday soon you will see

In a generation that has been raised to value individualism above all else, we may have forgotten the value of serving some great machine beyond ourselves. I don’t think the ache inside us all can be satisfied by individualism alone.

You can download it for FREE at . I absolutely cannot wait to hear the new album.


Written by Taylor Webster

February 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with , , , ,

Swings and Sunsets

leave a comment »

It’s absolutely beautiful here today. I went out in a t-shirt and jeans and didn’t feel the slightest need for a jacket. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky when I decided I had had enough of spending the weekend indoors glued to a screen or hunched over a drawing. I simply intended to go for a walk, when I passed a playground a few blocks from my house.

I stopped in for a visit. And, let me tell you, nothing beats the swingset. Nothing.

Sure, it had been a while. But the swings, my favorite playground friend in childhood, welcomed me back with open arms.  The way the metal instantly dried out my hands, the whoosh of wind through my hair, the moment where the world dropped out from under me only to come rushing back at a breakneck pace, the instant, mood lifting, perspective-altering rush of simple joy. No one can be too old for that.

I was so taken by the swings that I spent the next twenty minutes cavorting and dancing around the playground, free of worry and inhibition, simply moving where the music and the sunlight took me. It was beautiful. Moments of freedom and joy like that always remind me of Jesus’ promise to his disciples:

“I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” John 16:22

I believe that’s the greatest, most succinct promise of hope we’ve ever been given. Think for a second about what it really means, to see Him again, to fully rejoice, and to know that that joy can never be taken away.

In the rush to grow up, I hope we don’t forget the swingset. I hope I’m never too old to play. It’s just too much fun.

Photo Credit:

Written by Taylor Webster

February 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Life

Tagged with , , , , ,

A Savoy Opera…(Weekly Design Update)

leave a comment »

Oh. Yeah. The design portion of the blog. Well. Here goes then.

One of the key challenges I’m facing right now is motivation. Or time mangement. Whatever it is that gets stuff done. I don’t have it. I’m only in class for three hours on Monday, two hours Tuesday thru Thursday, and not at all Friday thru Sunday. So I’m pretty much in charge of independently arranging my own time. I’m juggling two long-term design projects at the moment. One is an Importance of Being Earnest set for class, due two weekends from now. I’m not worried about it. But I’m also not working on it. So. There you have it.

The big banana is a realized design of The Gondoliers for CSU Opera. This show opens three weeks from today. Here’s a preview of the scenery for the first act.

This is the first Google-SketchUp Rendering I presented to the production team in January. Some stuff has changed since then, but it's an exciting little preview.

It’s a BIG FREAKING SHOW. Generally, the opera sets are cobbled together from bits and pieces of previous sets. This one is being built entirely from scratch. And we’re painting a 35′ x 20′ backdrop of Venice. And we’re laying a masonite floor in the concert hall and painting that too. Lots of detail. Lots of work for a first time designer who has absolutely no formal paint training.

To be quite frank, I’m terrified. That backdrop is going to be painted based off of one of my renderings. We’ve only done one backdrop in the two years I’ve been here, and it was a last minute thing painted over only one weekend. Working on these renderings and draftings has been hard to do because I’m so scared I’ll mess it up.

Some background as to my experience and qualifications. Two years ago I was drafting (if you could call it that) on graph paper in high school and applying to colleges. Pretty much ground zero for a designer. A year ago I had no idea what formal draftings or renderings looked like. I got a basic sense of both in a drawing, drafting and rendering course. I took Scene Design I last semester, where I refined my hand drafting skills but still didn’t get a firm handle on paint renderings. I’ve never been trained in scenic painting. I only have a basic understanding of theatrical construction, which limits my ability to conceive of scenic units. I’m not an expert in Venetian architecture. I have pretty much NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. But by Jove, I’m doing it.

The department also hasn’t had a student scenic designer in two years. So it’s been a challenge at times to find out exactly what’s expected of me, things that faculty and staff designers already know or have always known as far as deadlines and level of detail. They’ve trusted me with this design based almost entirely on the fact that I’m a competent student and have expressed a strong interest in scenic design. But man, does it feel like a lot of responsibility for someone not even two years out of high school.

They really have been wonderfully helpful. The technical director knows how to put things together, and has a lot of helpful suggestions to improve the construction of the arches and the bridge. My design advisor knows absolutely everything about Venetian architecture, scenic painting, and life in general. But it’s come down to something I have to do myself.


Let’s get to it.

Hopefully in twenty four hours I will have produced a backdrop rendering that looks something like this.

Haha. That’s a photograph! But if it looks like that. We (using the royal we here) will be quite pleased.

Written by Taylor Webster

February 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm

New Music Mondays!

leave a comment »

Our Generation Defines Ourselves by our Music

True. Every generation in the last hundred years has. But with the internet, downloading, iPods, and constant access to new music, it’s easier to create share, and live by music.

Every Monday I’ll be posting a song of the week. Something I listened to frequently, and something there’s a chance you may not know.

This week’s selection is a new song from one of my all-time -favorite bands. Released on January 18, 2011, The Decemberists’ new album The King is Dead sees the talented songwriters and musicians foraying into the world of folk and Americana. The resulting album may be less epic than previous outings, but is just as clear and beautiful as anythingthey’ve ever done.

I present to you, June Hymn.

Colin Meloy’s talent for wordplay has never ceased to amaze me. A sampling:

Here’s a hymn to welcome in the day
Heralding a summer’s early sway
And all the bulbs all coming in
To begin
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again

Pegging clothing on the line
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door
And more
You’re standing on the landing with the war
You shouldered all the night before

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn
And you were waking
And day was breaking
A panoply of song
And summer comes to Springville Hill

Panoply. I mean. Come on. Who even talks like that any more? Oh yeah. This guy. 🙂

Bonus: For those of you who find The Decemberists too mainstream…..

Meet You Me and Apollo. Saw him perform at a coffeehouse in Fort Collins last weekend on my birthday. Incredible performance energy from a guy and his guitar. About four minutes in he starts a song called “Circles and Graves” that is currently a favorite.

Written by Taylor Webster

February 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with , , , , , ,


leave a comment »

An introduction to posts about God:

I do not write from a desire to convert the reader or appear pious and full of answers. I can only speak the truth of my own experience. I’m writing for the curious, the athiest, the doubter and the churchgoing evangelist. The desire to connect to something greater than ourselves is something we all have in common. Thank you for exploring this with me.

It’s my fourth week going to Emmaus Road Church. Churchgoing is still a habit I’m trying to get into. In my past I’ve been let down by churches and church leaders more times that I’d care to count. But I’m learning that it’s time to forgive. It’s time to own this faith I claim. It’s time to go back to the church.

I believe that this time of young adulthood is the time to strengthen, own, and define what you believe. For me, that means making the church experience my own. Searching for teachings that are full of truth and a community full of hope. So far, Emmaus is going well.

This morning we studied Philippians 3. It’s a powerful passage. Take a look:

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul was talking about how he had achieved everything a man could be expected to achieve. He was a Jew in the purest sense of tradition and faultless in the eyes of the law.

But this isn’t what mattered. Paul was willing to die to all these things to come alive in Christ. He wanted to be resurrected into a life where not everything had been attained, but where he had the freedom to turn towards Jesus and lean into the future. A future full of life.

The funny thing about resurrection is, you have to die first.

That’s hard to hear. But in thinking about it, it makes sense. We’re not ready for it, when it happens. We ask God to save us, and the balk at the ways in which he asks us to die to our own achievements or the things we prize most.

I’ve fought the idea of dying to myself. I don’t know when God started the process.  But recently the pain of dying, watching what I have always held most dear, considered my top priority and greatest strength, crumble at my feet has had an incredible power in bringing me to my knees.

It  is only in light of our own weakness that we are able to accept God’s strength. When we live convinced we are capable of solving our own problems, there is no need for God in our lives. In the past month I’ve seen more powerfully than ever before a God who is willing to raise me up. A God who says that this time of death is not the final word. A God who promises life beyond pain.

God is hope. When we take on the sufferings of Christ and die to ourselves, we are creating the opportunity for resurrection into a new life. The glory of pain is in the opportunity to heal.

Written by Taylor Webster

February 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Life of the Spirit

Tagged with , , ,


leave a comment »

Howdy, world! Or, as is more likely the case, interested friends who were redirected from my Facebook page. In any case. Thanks for stopping by.

My name is Taylor. One week ago today, I turned twenty. This may not seem like such a large event in the grand scheme of things. Lots of people have birthdays every day. It’s what people do. But the turning over of a decade always seems to be a particularly marked occasion.

Living life as a teenager, you are constantly reminded of your age. It is held against you and held over you, constrains you and defines you, and shapes every part of your existence. You constantly strive to grow up, or to seem more grown up, to make plans and create a future.

So, what happens when you hit your twenties? People stop telling you what to do and you’re simply expected to know what to do. You move out of your parent’s house or the college dorms and start living on your own and paying bills and looking for work. You’re told you have less time to “waste” pursuing hobbies and that it’s time to choose your career and own your choices.

Of course. I’ve only been twenty for a week. So this is mostly speculation.

I’m writing to find out if any of it is true. I want to chronicle what happens as an aspiring theatre designer takes on what is widely regarded as perhaps the most pivotal decade of one’s life. Simply a story every now and again that may or may not prove helpful or relatable. All I have to share with you are my own experiences.

Let’s go for a ride.

Written by Taylor Webster

February 6, 2011 at 3:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Five Things

leave a comment »

Five Things You Don’t Stop Loving Just Because You’re Twenty

Based on approximately one week’s experience

  1. Phone Calls The phone is a really fantastic method of communication. The sound of you best friend’s voice coming in from a couple thousand miles away is incredibly reassuring sometimes.
  2. That One Band Remember your favorite band from high school? The one you would have sold your iPod and your college admissions letter to go see? You might not have listened to them in a few years. You may think that means you’ve grown up in some sense. But go back to your hard drive and give ’em a listen. Yeah. They still rock.
  3. Macaroni and Cheese Really, any form of grain and cheese. Quesadillas. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Mac and Cheese. This week it’s been Kroger brand shells and cheese. Oh yeah. delicious.
  4. Children’s Entertainment When you’re eighteen, you’re allowed to start purchasing your own “adult entertainment”. I believe the real challenge of self-discovery and growing up exists in revisiting the books and films that you loved as a kid. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that the truths of Beauty and the Beast, Ender’s Game, or The Magic School Bus are still relevant and entertaining.
  5. Arts and Crafts Some of us call what we do “professional theatrical design”. But I can tell you, when I’m putting together a scale model of a set, cutting and painting the tiny pieces, it’s the same thrill I got when it was Diorama Day in Elementary School.

Written by Taylor Webster

February 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Lists

Tagged with , , ,