Future Scene Painter of America

As Spring Term and this chilly month of February starts, I’d like to take a step back and reflect on the recently concluded J-Term. For those who may not know, J-Term is an opportunity to take an intensive course during the month of January, and many courses that are offered during this time are typically not offered during the rest of the year. This post is mainly to slightly brag about how great the class I took was.


I was enrolled in Scene Painting with the tech director/Theatre Dad, Professor Rick Arnold. Although I shivered as I trudged across campus at the ungodly hour of 8:50 AM to arrive at the theatre at 9 AM to begin class, I was always sure to have a great morning when I got there. Rick instructed us on how to use different brushes and tools in order to make the most realistic and “successful” (as he termed it) paintings. We practiced by learning how to paint different textures and backdrops on our four allotted canvases/wood flats, as well as how to mix colors in order to achieve an image similar to the reference images he gave us. Wood grain, marble, foliage, and brick were only a few among the many different subjects of our paintings.






As we all toiled backstage hunched over our canvases, Rick walked between our taped off squares and observed us as we worked. He was incredibly helpful and supportive, giving us advice on different techniques to use and was always available to answer our questions. Playing off of the joke of him as our “Theatre Dad,” I would sometimes dramatically sing “Papa Can You Hear Me” from the musical “Yentl” to get his attention. He always had to remind us during the painting process that although it might kind of look like a disaster up close, our paintings were meant to be seen at a distance, so the little mistakes we made wouldn’t be noticeable. After we finished each painting and let it dry, we propped them all up against the wall for a class critique. By the end of the month, it was amazing to see how much everyone had improved.


For our final project, we had to paint a large canvas with an image of our choice and employ the techniques that we learned in order to create an image of the best quality we were capable of. I chose to paint a cobblestone path and, although Rick assured me that it was well done, my perfectionism won’t let me believe it.
Overall, I completely adored my J-Term class and, although Scene Painting is only offered once every five years, I would highly recommend it to anyone who might be interested.