Friday, May 15, 2009

Scenic work for movie set - Law Abiding Citizen

I got my introduction to the world of movie set production this week. I was brought on to the set of "Law Abiding Citizen" staring Jamie Fox and Gerard Butler. The scenic department needed assistance faux painting two action sets on the last two days before filming. The set was constructed in a huge warehouse in south west Philadelphia.

both "subterranean" sets were actually entirely free standing wood fabricated structures.
All the stone, brick and mortar is made of vacuum formed sheets and stapled into place, our job was to faux it all to look like the real thing.

The gates and cell doors are all brand new iron work and custom made on site, then faux painted to look ancient and rusted. Due to filming requirements, every thing had to be fire proof, so we were strictly limited to water based materials. I worked from sketches on site ...

The schedule was crazy. We started each 15 hour day at 7:00 am with two coffee breaks and a 45 minute lunch break in between

It was the most intensive two days of faux painting I've ever done and I'm hooked! I hope very much to be doing more movie painting in the future.

To see more of my work please visit

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Portrait painting at studio Incamminati

I started a Monday night portrait painting class with Kerri Dunn, My goal is to learn some new approaches to handling color and value, and reestablish some existing skills that have weakened since I started to work exclusively in Acrylic. I haven’t done much in oil since the Academy.  I know that simply doing the work is the only way to achieve my goals.  My busy schedule has made it far to easy to put the brush down when I’m done the clients work, and for that my fine art skills have suffered. 

So each Monday night at 5:30 tired or not I’m finding my way to Studio Incamminati for three hours of pretty intense study from a live model, This is the final model pose for this class, it will be a four night study.

This is what I achieved on the first night, I’m using Ultra marine and Burnt Sienna on a medium ground linen canvase with clear gesso. The Belgian linen is a bit rough. The goal here is to develop the drawing and establish values. I’d forgotten how nice the oil is to work with, great for removing and adjusting the tone.

I'll continue to post my progress each Tuesday for the next three weeks.
To see more of my work please visit

Friday, February 27, 2009

Upholstering an Eames style Plycraft Lounge

I've wanted to own an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman for years and since they cost 3,500 new and even more used, I'll probably wish I had one for the rest of my life. 
A beat to hell knock off found on the side of the road is right up my alley. I began by taking the entire chair apart and removing all the old leather, buttons and piping (about 10,00 staples hold it all in place). It makes sense to save all the parts and pieces as they will be used for templates and provide a road map to put it all together again. I bought New high density foam at Katz in Philadelphia 857 N 5th street (much cheaper than in the fabric district).
I decided to use black vinyl because its cheap and won't be a problem if my cats decide to work on the chair when I'm done. A lounge chair takes about 6 yards. You need a zipper foot on the sewing machine to remake the piping and can find directions on You tube. 
I got a button dye at the fabric store for half inch buttons. you just cut one inch squares of vinyl and pop new buttons with a hammer. Shape the foam with a sharp serrated bread knife, put it in place and apply a layer of new batting. cover foam with your new vinyl shapes and use a staple gut to attach. Carefully locate the button placement and punch new holes threw the foam and attach to the backing board with heavy cord, staple on back.
 The arm pads are the tricky part and because I wanted to add a second bead of piping to the arm rests, I subbed the sewing out to my assistant Lila who makes hand made shoes. When they were finished they are fitted over new foam and stapled to the wood forms. I sourced the caped round based T nuts from a place in Chicago called EFC International (exact match to the originals) 
I sanded down the edges of the molded plywood chair backs and finished them with Antique gel stain to provide a visual contrast like on the new Herman miller chairs. New Plycraft chair parts such as; Swivel rockers and base can be found at swivel-chair-parts .com

Because I prefer a vintage look and I don't want the chair to look new, I simply oiled the wood forms to freshen it up and remove any dusty looking abrasions. Basically then I just screwed it all back together and I was done!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

War Bird - Restoring the battalion Insignia on a vintage WW2 RAF Spitfire

On Jan 28 I got a call from my client to come down to his Aircraft hanger and help with something he needed fixed on one of his planes.  I walked into a hanger filled with beautiful vintage aircraft. I was told that the RAF spitfire had been recently restored and shipped from England and had one final flaw that needed fixing before she could be flown. "The 28th Squadron's  insignia thats painted on the side of my plane looks like the donkey from Shrek!"
Honored and more than a little nervous, I began by carefully removing Shrek. It was extremely important not to damage the original field of white as it was painted with a specialized epoxy that had been sprayed directly to the plane's aluminum fuselage. Repainting the white square would require masking out the entire aircraft and spraying it out again.

Historically these planes were embellished by "fly boys" who used whatever paint might have been laying around the air field. I decided to use "OneShot" sign painters enamel because its durable and slow drying enough to manipulate the image as I work. When painting with enamel you need to be careful not to brush the surface to much because it does start to skin over. Because the white field of paint is completely cured, I can "edit" my freshly painted lines to perfection using a clean brush loaded with pure mineral spirits and a rag. 

Utilizing this removal technique requires that you let each layer cure overnight so that the solvent does not eat into the previous layers of paint. Its time consuming but the finished work has super clean lines and smooth flat color fields. 
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