Saturday, 29 January 2011

Exhausted, Emotional and Expectational!

Well, now that the play is over I may be able to start thinking of something other than drama! What a week it's been, however. Last night was amazingly good, with a full capacity audience. I was on car park duties last night, which was a very cold job as the temperature plummeted to minus 2 (which felt like minus 10 for me!) but it was nice to see our regular patrons turn up - it feels like greeting family members sometimes, as they feel as though they know you so well even if you don't recognise their faces at all. After that, I helped out with the refreshment/front of house duties for the rest of the night, so didn't get to sit with the audience, but luckily we do have a monitor in the foyer so that we can at least see the play on that. It was such a good audience, too. Very responsive to the unfolding tale right from the start. That always gives the cast a boost and in turn they give a better performance, I think.

It was the night for a lot of the cast's family, too - my parents, my younger brother and my sister were there, as were my aunt and uncle, so even though I wasn't performing, I was still nervous as I wanted it to go well. Dave and Carol's family were also in last night, as were Adam's parents and sister. All reports so far are very favourable, I'm pleased to say! We will be having a week away from the adult rehearsals now and only meeting up with the Junior and Youth sections next week.  I was quite emotional at the end of the night - even more so when I was presented with a Thank You card and a bottle of red wine (how did they guess???) from the cast and crew! That was such a lovely surprise, since we tend not to go in for gifts at BADS unless it's a director's first time, so I felt exceptionally appreciated. We all went out for a curry afterwards and I tried a chicken Methi for the first time, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Having a late meal meant we didn't get to bed till gone 2am, so I slept in till about 9 this morning, then was soon out of the house to take my two entries into Hull for the Ferens Art Gallery's Open Exhibition. I managed to get parked on a meter not far from the gallery and just had a few minutes free to have a quick look around the gallery after I'd unpacked and left my entries there. I don't very often go into the centre of Hull these days, despite the fact that the Art Gallery hosts some fantastic pieces of art and various exhibitions - I sometimes get claustrophobic in anywhere vaguely museum-like and have to rush out of the building immediately so it's not something I regularly do.

However, I was so pleased to have seen one painting in particular, by an artist called Victor Newsome. I've tried to find the image online, but there's not much of his work out there. The painting was done in acrylic but what amazed me when I looked at it was the fine details of the shading. In order to create each shaded area of the painting, he'd painted tiny cross-hatches - really effective and a method I will certainly employ in one of my future paintings. The painting was of a nude submerged in a bath, although you could only see her head and chest. Her head appeared out of proportion due to the fact that it was positioned further forward from her shoulders and her hair was made up of hundreds of narrow lines of colour.

I wish I could show you the image of the painting - but if you are in the area please try and get to the Ferens and have a look yourself, it's worth it. He started his artistic career as a sculptor and studied at the Leeds School of Art. You can see some of his works online if you google his name, but not the one I saw today!

Oh, and the two paintings I entered into the Open Exhibition (which starts on Saturday 12th February and finishes on Sunday 3rd March) are "3 Wide Men And An Interloper" and "Red Rocks"  - the same two paintings I had in the East Yorkshire Open Exhibition at Sewerby Hall last summer.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Scenic Painting - the process

Now that I've managed to stop myself from doing any more to it, I thought I'd share the images of the scenic painting on here. I can still see flaws in it and would have liked more time to spend making it perfect, but ultimately I had to leave it and let the cast have their dress rehearsal with a finished backdrop.

I can honestly say this was the most challenging piece of art I've ever had to create. I started off relishing the challenge and looking forward to creating such a big painting. Over time, however, that enthusiasm waned slightly and as I progressed, painted over, and repainted certain elements I started wondering how on earth Rolf Harris does those huge paintings he was famous for when I was growing up!

The plan was to create the illusion of a Spanish Villa - the terraced area overlooking the garden and surrounding countryside of the Sierra Blanca. I researched images of the area- it stated in the play that you could clearly see the mountain range in that area (the Sierra Blanca takes its name from the Sierra Blanca mountain range of which La Concha, the mountain that towers above the urbanisation, is part). I also wanted to feature a bougainvillea bush as it's mentioned several times in the play. 

The first job we had, which we (my husband Keith and I) did soon after the New Year was over, was to paint the walls of the inside of the "Villa" with a magnolia colour. We'd already built the set in September/October so most of the rest of the work was electrical and decorating along with ensuring everything was safe.

Stage one commenced on January 3rd - as you can see, we have so far painted the walls of the villa and the living room door. We are at the point where we are about to erect strip lights above the two arches on the upstage wall - these will help to convey the light of an outdoor scene. The back wall is as yet untouched.

 Day 2 - January 4th. Having completed the painting (two coats of magnolia) on all the living room walls, we started on the back wall, covering up any previous wall covering with white at the top and a magnolia effect on the lower half - this would soon become the wall of the villa's terrace. 

Day 3 - January 5th. Not much has changed in this view - I've blocked in a basic sky and straightened the level of the wall, since I forgot to take the spirit level yesterday! It's also had another coat of magnolia. As you can see, the strip lights are already shedding a fair amount of light in the two archways.
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Close up of SL arch showing gridded plan

Close up of terracotta wall tiles painted onto the lower edge of the "terrace" wall.

Day 4 - January 9th. A long time was spent today painting in the top of the terrace wall, the shaded areas to give some texture to the surface of the wall, and the tiles at the bottom of the wall. Keith helped by marking out a grid on the wall for the plan of where all the mountains would be placed - if you look at the close-up images you can just about make out the pencil lines and in one of the images you can see the plan I was working from. I also blocked in an area of green as a base colour for the garden.

Mountain line drawn in and basic sky colour blocked in.

Low line of clouds painted in at the top of the mountain range.

 Day 5 - January 10th. I pencilled in the mountain range first, then blocked in the basic sky colour, as seen in the first image for today. Then I added a low line of clouds at the foot of the mountain range, and finally I painted the individual mountains, using my gridded plan as a reference.

 Day 6 - January 12th. Didn't have much time to spend on the painting today as we were starting rehearsals with the Youth section again after the Christmas break and needed to do the lesson plan etc. However, if you look closely you can see that I've painted out the clouds that I did last time and repainted the whole of the sky. I didn't like them!

Day 7 - January 14th. Keith decorated the "hall" wall with some plain white textured wallpaper today (you can't actually see it in any of these photos, will show full stage later). I blocked in the mountains and created a new sky/cloud formation. I've also pencilled in other areas ready for painting - a house just beyond the garden, and the corner of a swimming pool which is supposedly in the garden.

Day 8 - January 15th. Most of the greenery has been blocked in now, the basic house colour painted in and the shape of the swimming pool painted in - you can just about see it on the left of the arch. I've added the rough shape of the bougainvillea too, along with a few small trees in the distance.The mountains in the distance have also been lightened to give the illusion that the they are much further away.
Here you can see I've added some basic colour to the bougainvillea bush, painted in the roof, window and side of the house, coloured in the swimming pool and surrounding area and added some houses in the very distant green hills on the right.

Day 9 - 18th January. Branches, leaves and more colour added to the bougainvillea to give it some shape and definition. A creeping ivy styled tree was added to the side of the house.

Day 10 - 19th January. I wasn't at all happy with the effect of the swimming pool in the garden - it just didn't look credible so I decided to paint it out and just have lawn instead. I added some highlights to the bougainvillea bush and painted several different washes over the various levels of green in the distance - and added some hedge lines here and there to help delineate them.

Day 11 - 21st January. I painted in the suggestion of another small bush creeping over the wall in the SL archway,  changed the appearance of a tree positioned in front of the house, in the SR archway and added some more greenery to the creeping plant at the side of the house.

Day 12 - January 23 (Dress Rehearsal day) After adding some shadow on the wall for the bougainvillea plant and the green shrub SL, I also added a path down the centre of the lawn and a low wall at the perimeter of the garden, I enhanced the buildings in the distance that had been painted over with washes, and added a few more splashes of colour to the bougainvillea leaves. The set was dressed with fairy lights for the two arches at the back (to represent evening approaching) and three of my pieces of artwork - as can be seen in the images below. One of them is a collaboration with fellow artist Rob Kirbyson, the Baobab tree. He painted the background and I painted in the tree, All three paintings are still for sale, so if you come along to see the play and are interested, please see me at the theatre or contact me via email to enquire about the price.

"Reading Between The Lines" and "Baobab"

"Watching Paint Dry". 

I am happy to report that last night, at the end of the play, one of the women in the audience spoke to me about how much she enjoyed the play. She then asked if I'd painted all the scenery, to which I said "yes" (I was cautiously replying because I didn't know what she was going to say about it, good or bad). She then said "It's brilliant". Result! All that time spent painting, planning, repainting etc has now officially been worth it. I always say that things are worth doing even if just one person notices - so my job is done!

My next piece of artistic output will be something much, much smaller - a postcard painting for an exhibition in Scarborough to be handed in for Monday!

I would like to thank Anna from for allowing me to use some of her photographs of bougainvillea as reference images for the scenic painting.

Opening Night success

Last night was the first night of our 4-night run of "Heatstroke" and I'm pleased to say that it was a hit with the audience. The cast of 6 did me proud, as did the backstage team of Keith (Stage Manager) Josh (Sound & Lighting) Amy, Shannon & Steve (Front of House).

It was the first time on the stage at Bilton for two members of the cast, Scott and Adam - and I was so pleased for them both when they obviously slotted into the production so well as though it had always been a part of their lives. Eloise was also making her debut in an adult production (as opposed to a Youth production, which she is normally a part of) and she rose to the occasion, playing to the audience. I was particularly pleased that they all managed to wait for the laughter to die down a bit before delivering their next line, making sure the audience didn't miss anything.

As ever, the Tuesday night audience consisted mainly of members from various old people's homes across the city - several different Lions clubs organise trips for them and we have always been grateful for their support - even if they do imagine they are watching TV instead of seeing a live performance. We have had some hilarious comments from audience members previously - they don't realise that the cast can actually hear what they say out loud and that it could be distracting.

The funniest remark I had was when one old dear saw me in the foyer and it then dawned on her where she was. "Oh, we're at that place, aren't we? What's it called? The theatre - oh, I thought we were going somewhere else." "Oh, didn't you realise you were coming to watch a play?" I asked her. "No, I thought we were at that other place" she replied. "Oh well, it's a nice surprise for you then, isn't it?" I asked her. "Oh, yes, I've been coming here for years, we never miss them - I've seen you before - the daughter, sister, mother, wife."  That was funny enough, but at the interval when I happened to see her again in the foyer, she asked me how my Mother was. "Oh, do you know my Mother?" I said, thinking it must be someone I'd not met before who knew my Mum from her involvement in a choir or such-like.  "Well, I've seen her lots of times, on the stage here - blonde hair."  Then it slowly dawned on me - and the chap standing next to her said "No, Ethel, that's not really her Mother, is it?". I explained that my Mother didn't go on the stage and then she said "Oh, no, I don't know your Mother" as she trundled off with her tea and biscuits....

I was so nervous prior to the start of the play, it was as though I was acting in it, but thankfully I was relaxed enough to enjoy the performance sitting in the audience. It's so much nicer to watch something you've all created after months of rehearsing with an appreciative group of people. A director's job is quite lonely at times, but last night was just the opposite. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week now (and the curry afterwards on the last night!). 

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Forthcoming production

The poster above is to advertise the forthcoming production by the amateur dramatic society of which I have been a member for over 20 years. My mind is overflowing with things to remember at this stage prior to a performance - it seems that this production in particular has given me even more things to think about.

A brief check-list would probably be something along the lines of:
1. Poster designed and printed.
2. Performance Rights applied for and paid.
3. Newsletter designed, written, printed, folded, stuffed into envelopes and posted to our patrons.
4. Front of House staff organised.
5. Source all props required.
6. Publicise on websites and pass on media contacts to resident Publicity Officer
7. Clean and tidy theatre including toilets, dressing room, stage and auditorium
8. Paint the required "scene" on the stage (the biggest job of all so far)
9. Distribute posters locally.
10. Check cast have all costume required.

I can at least say that most of those items are checked - however, I have been painting the back wall of the stage (an area of approximately 13.5ft wide by 8ft high) to represent the terrace and views out from a villa in the Sierra Blanca region of Spain.  This painting is becoming so much a part of my life that I am dreaming about the next stage each time I close my eyes! I have repainted whole areas of it on more than one occasion, and am sure I will still be adding to it right up to the opening night. I am also desperately trying to locate several ceramic ornaments/vases or money boxes cheaply that will break easily each night. Keith, my husband and fellow BADS fanatic, has already tried in the local Poundland, Wilko, Home Bargains and Boyes (a general store that often has really cheap household items) but to no avail. I went to Pound-stretcher this afternoon once I'd had enough of painting some bougainvillea that so far looks like some strange alien purple cloud formation (even though I know it will look better than that when I've finished, I hate letting others see my work in progress so am obviously stressing about this now). Pound-stretcher had some vases in that were £3.99. I would rather not spend that much per night (plus extras for rehearsing with) so am determined that tomorrow I will spend the morning scouring charity shops instead - and have a day off the painting!

Anyway, I have really enjoyed directing and producing this play, it still makes me laugh at rehearsals and the cast have all been very reliable and happy to be directed by me (or at least they appear to be).

You can read all about it on the Facebook Event I have created here.!/event.php?eid=182877285069255

I do plan to post photos of the scenic painting in progress, once I have the courage to share them!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

First sale of 2011

I have just made my first sale of the year via Etsy, which seems to be proving a very useful site for me in terms of sales. It is also a good place to connect with other arts & crafts people from all over the world. 

I sold one of my decorated note-books, which are probably the most popular of my latest craft creations. The one I sold, above, is called "Tidal". I will be posting it tomorrow. I don't think I will ever get over the feeling of excitement I get when I open my emails and discover someone has bought something I've created - there's nothing quite like it!