Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Artisan Exchanges: Never Stop Learning

From Kira Nehmer:
Blog 3- Never Stop Learning

            At the end of my first week here, I was talking with one of our more seasoned scenics and he told me that if he could pass on one piece of advice to every scenic he encounters, it would be this: never stop learning
            Now, I’ve been hearing this for years and years.  I had mentors in college (at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN) stress this to us.  We’re in theatre- our job is to ask questions of our communities, and reflect life back onto our communities.  Our communities are ever-changing, so we had better be changing with them.  Not to mention that our technologies that help us tell the story are always changing, so we need to keep up with things like that as well….
            Then I left college, went out into the “real world”, and my other mentors continued to tell me, never stop learning.  One of the things I loved about freelancing was how easily it lent itself to learning from other artists.  Then I came to Oregon because of that same principle of mine to never stop learning.  I wasn’t going to blog about this, because it originally seemed very obvious to me.  But I don’t think this principal is an industry standard.  It’s a value here to OSF, but there are probably theatres that have gotten stuck in the “this is how we do it” mindset. I would like to take this opportunity to pass on this advice: never stop learning.  There must be something to it, as wherever I go, people tell me this.  Pass it on.
I find this is the perfect opportunity to share some of the things that I’ve learned here thus far.  At the end of two weeks here, I’ve learned a lot about myself and these two companies, but I’ve also learned about different products and techniques to use.  One project that I worked on last week was a cabinet that wanted faux wood grain texture.  I’ve created wood grain texture countless times, but here at OSF, I used a product I’ve never used with tools that I’ve never used.  The product was Nova Matte Gel.  In the past I’ve used a joint compound mixture with white glue, or Rosco’s Crystal Gel, or even the roofing compound Jaxsan.  The joint compound mixture tends to gum up the tools quickly and Crystal Gel tends to be too brittle.  I really enjoyed working with the Nova Matte Gel because it was easy to smooth out with water, and dries incredibly hard, so it’s very durable.  I also used a wood grain rocker to create grain, but then I rolled a chuck roller through the wet mixture to create more divots.  This isn’t exactly the intended use of a chuck roller, but part of being a scenic artist is using tools in ways that they were not intended to be used!  I’m having lots of fun learning from the folks here, and doing what scenic artists do best: play!  Enjoy the photos from the process.

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