Scenic Artist

A scenic artist has the biggest job in the paint department: doing the backdrops—the big backdrops, the ones that take up an entire wall. These are the backdrops used to simulate landscapes, skylines, or cityscapes. A scenic artist takes a small idea for a backdrop and enlarges it.

The scenic artist works with something known as a paint frame, which is a large frame on hydraulics on which the canvas is hung. The thing that separates this from an ordinary easel, besides size, is the way it works. The scenic artist can stand at ground level and have the paint frame raise or lower the canvas up to thirty feet either way. The artist can then work on any section without worrying about ladders or rehanging the painting. If Michelangelo had had something like this, he never would have gotten paint in his eyes.

In Los Angeles, there are specific companies that do nothing but backdrops and scenic paintings, and almost all production companies go through them rather than hire a scenic artist for any specific production.

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