Scenic Painting: Student Work On Display

Photo by Stevens

Every other year the theatre program at Cleveland State University offers a class in scenic painting. The course was offered last spring and was taught by a theatre faculty member, Russ Borski. Borski had done scenic painting for probably over 300 shows throughout his career and draws on experience with scenic painting from his MFA classes at NorthWestern.

For spring 2022, the class created enlarged versions of playing cards for their final projects. These pieces are now on display on the second floor of the 13th Street Building at CSU. Along with the pieces is a description by Borski that states:

“The final projects of our class of scenic painters are now proudly presented. Each student chose a card from an arts deck of cards individually created by a noted artist. These cards were used as renderings to be scenically enlarged and replicated by the student using developed scenic painting skills. Many techniques. Many choices. Bravo!”

Photo by Stevens

In an interview, Borski stated that the class learned the basics of painting and the different techniques utilized in scenic painting. This included replicating different textures, such as wood, brick, and marble. The class also learned about brushes, the differences
between commercial paint versus theatrical paint, water-to-paint ratio, and working with environmentally safe ingredients.

Throughout the course of the semester, students complete six projects, and the final is typically assigned 2-3 weeks in advance.

CSU had offered this course many times before, including during COVID, when scenic painting proved to be a challenge over Zoom. Students had to utilize materials that they had at home to create renderings. While other final projects have been used before, Borski said this was a favorite and frequently used. An example of another project students have done in the past is replicating vintage wallpaper.

Projects from the spring of 2015. Photo provided by Borski.

The projects will remain on display until the next time that the class is offered.

Learn more about the theatre department at CSU here.

Author: Trinity Stevens

Trinity Stevens is a current student at Cleveland State University majoring in Dance in Community, minoring in Theatre Studies, and pursuing a certificate in Arts Management & Community Development.