the life and times of a twenty year old designer

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: