Art for background’s sake

My wife runs a youth theatre group & I help out, giving advice to the kids on acting, editing backing tracks, developing sound effects, writing bits and bobs, etc. Oh, and a lot of lifting and carrying. Some of the things I have to lift and carry are the set flats that we occasionally use, and I build and paint these too.

A few years ago we did Oliver and the script requires a portrait on the wall to be indicated (this turns out to be Oliver’s mother), so I thought I’d do a quick, vague portraity-type picture on one of the flats. Now, when I were a lad I did do a bit of art, but that was quite some time ago. And I was never particularly good at people. However, “sod it”, I thought, I’ll have a bash.

The interesting thing was how much attention I ended up giving the damn thing. You’d think it was a crucial plot device that the audience needed to see in detail, or an actual bloody portrait. I could have done a stick woman, or the actor could have indicated a portrait on wall that the audience couldn’t see. Weird how you get driven by fairly inconsequential things.

Looking back on it now I can see a faint trace of the same kind of obsession that drives the artists and craftsmen who work on films like Harry Potter and Star Wars, creating tiny, intricate works of brilliance that are barely even seen by the audience. That’s probably one of the best things about that Warner Brothers Harry Potter experience near Watford: you get to see the background art (and the passion behind it) in close up.

Anyway… here’s my ‘portrait’ that devoured more hours than I expected. It’s not great, but I’m quite chuffed that it isn’t shite. Good enough for the background anyway.

Mostly acrylics, with a touch of emulsion, if you’re interested.

Oliver set portrait

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