You would figure that every day is a paint day at Grosh, but not for Backdrop Consultants. Today they got out of the office and into the studio! This was uncharted territory for them and probably for most. Not many people can say they helped paint a 22’ H x 50’ W backdrop! The Grosh scenic artists definitely looked worried. However, Greg, their fearless leader, and Scenic Creative Director, had full confidence…and the option to primer and paint over any mistakes.
First we had to gear up! Adorning ourselves in old clothes, shoe covers and even a couple of full painter’s body suites, Greg gave us a tutorial on the ins and outs of the Grosh Hollywood Studio. There are six high ceiling frames that allow the backdrops to be lowered by a counterweight down two flights through openings in the floor. He went over a few safety caveats, like not falling through the openings, then showed us the tools of their trade. To begin with, the backdrop design is divided up into a grid and each section is drawn out on large sheets of paper. An electro pounce machine, which uses electricity, burns minute holes into the paper, creating a stencil. The stencil is then held up against the canvas and used to make an outline of the design.
Before the stencils can be used, the canvas must be beaten with a whip-like stick removing any dust and getting out all frustrations, truly, a fun and essential step. Next up, was to apply a primer mix across the canvas with a heavy dense brush called a Dutch brush. As we painted, we would stop to allow the artists to pull the frame up or down via the counterweight. This made it easy for the scenic artists to go over our work and spot any “holidays” we may have left. A “holiday,” we learned, is artist lingo for an area not fully covered.
On frame three, Stan was working on backdrop ES8035 – Patriotic Gymnasium.Stan has been with Grosh for over 10 years and was once a scenic artist at Warner Brothers. We were given much smaller paintbrushes and were allowed to apply the red and blue paint on the patriotic decorations. Anabel, Backdrop Consultant – Eastern Region, really got her paint strokes down and actually stayed within the lines. Nicole, Backdrop Consultant – Southern Region, had a good “whoops” moment when she accidentally paintedit red where the white was supposed to be. Thankfully, the artists were fast; they wiped away the red with a damp cloth and painted over it.
The team found it very amusing taking turns using the paint spray gun on a bit of canvas set aside for us. The manipulation of air pressure and distance from the canvas is a delicate one, and we were not able to wield it with much professional control. The most forgiving was using the sheepskin roller brush to paint bushes in the background on Forest backdrop ES2601. The brush was not smooth like the ones used when painting the walls of one’s home, but textured, making it perfect for creating a foliage effect.
The Backdrop Consultants now have a better understanding of the painting process starting from an artist’s rendering to a backdrop ready for any stage or event. This is a big advantage that Grosh Backdrops and Drapery has over other backdrop rental companies who get a lot of their inventory shipped in from India. Experiencing the production of a backdrop is just another way Grosh goes the extra mile to provide knowledgeable consultants and take customer service to the next level.