The work is nearly soundless, a simple manual activity. One brushstroke after another is made, each one intended to convey shape and meaning. Each brushstroke, every flick of spatter is applied with purpose and clear intention. Scenic painting is work that fully engages the mind and body. Are there leaves in this brush? Not literally, but does this quick bounce and push of the brush convey “leaf”? Ash or maple or oak? Facing the sunlight, blown in the wind, one on top of another making a branch, a limb, a tree. And then make another few trees.

This is the job of a scenic artist. Reflecting a vision of life through painting and painting things on a very, very large scale. Wearing grubby paint-covered ...

Get Scenic Art for the Theatre, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.