After lots of trial and error, I’ve developed a list of must haves for scenic painting.
1. Black Paint and White Primer:
It’s no secret that white and black can be used to tint paint, but they’re excellent for adding highlights and shadows as well. Plus, if the white that you keep on hand is a primer as well, you’ll be able cover past paint designs and remake set pieces more easily.
Make sure that you only buy latex (NOT oil based) for all of your paints and primers. Cleanup is soap and water, whereas you will need strong, toxic cleaners for the oil based. Plus, latex paint tends to peel off of oil based paints once dry, and they don’t mix well for creating new colors.
Buy flat paint (not gloss, semi-gloss, or eggshell) to avoid a glare when your stage lights hit your scenery. If you happen to get anything other than flat, either by accident or as a donation, use it as your base and then put a flat over it to avoid glare issues.
For paint colors that I use a lot (like black and white), this gadget saves time opening and closing the paint and makes cleanup a breeze. If the paint can’s rim isn’t cleaned out well, air gets to your paint, and it can get stinky and moldy because the original lid will no longer properly seal. This eliminates the problem of an unclean rim as well as making it easy to seal (no need to hammer the lid closed with a rubber mallet ). All you have to do is snap the two portions of the lid closed. You can also rest a little easier when it comes to accidentally knocking over a full gallon of paint because you’ll spill way less.
3. Easy Seal Paint Can Lid
Another cool item to keep in your paint room is an easy on/off paint can lid. It makes opening and closing paint a cinch. Also, it’s cleanable and reusable. Plus, it helps to easily seal paint, thus doing away with constantly having to clean out your paint can rim. This is handy for paint that you’re not in and out of often.
4. Can Holster
The CAN HOLSTER helps to eliminate the mess from painting projects. Simply drop it in to your paint can and lock it on to keep the rim free from dripping paint. This means you can easily replace the lid for a tight seal. An added benefit is CAN HOLSTER’s 3″ brush well which keeps your paint brush clean and easily accessible.
5. Mix -n- Measure Paint Bowls and Lids
When I’m in the middle of a project, I mix the paints to create coordinating and complimentary colors. My favorite way to do this is using the Mix -n- Measure bowls. I can mix my new color of paint and put a lid on it for when I come back to finish my project. You have to purchase the lids separately, but it’s so worth it.
I buy the quart size and two and a half quart size. The measurement scale on the side of the container makes it easy to measure and reproduce your formula for each new paint color that you create.
The brush comb is handy when cleaning out a brush that for whatever reason didn’t get cleaned right away as it should have been. The bristles can work into the brush for a thorough cleaning. I’ve also used it to loosen paint in the rim of a paint can.
I don’t purchase a ton of paint in 5 gallon containers, but when I do, it’s a pain to mix without the Paint Mixer Bit. This attachment works with a drill to make mixing (stirring up) paint a breeze. You can also use it with gallon paint, although a wooden stir stick works just as well for that. The paint mixer bit comes with a tip for hanging.
It’s not always possible to finish a project within an allotted time, so having a paint tray with a lid will save both time and paint. When you have to pour the paint back into the original container and clean out the tray, you’re wasting paint, which is doubly bad when you’re on a small budget. The lid allows you to seal up paint and even the roller for an hour, a day, or even a week in order to come back to your project. This particular tray holds up to a gallon of pain.
The Purdy name brand brushes are high end, quality brushes for the scenic artist who wants to up their game. I recommend them for your personal set, not to be left for community use in your paint room. The wider 3-4″ are good for general use while the 1-2″ are ideal for detail work. I would purchase a combinapainttion of straight, chisel, and tipped.
10. Dish Drainer
I have a paint room for paint storage and clean up in my scene shop. It has shelves, cabinets, and two deep sinks. I used to hang brushes up to dry on a peg board above the sinks after shaking them out well, only to have them still drip onto my counter top. Now, I use a large rubber coated, metal dish drainer with a plastic utensil holder sitting on top of the drainboard for drying my brushes. I labeled the pegboard according to brush size and use it for brush storage once they’re dry.
For smaller detail work or projects, I use a paint pallet. I’ve got three kinds that I enjoy using. One is round, molded plastic with wells for keeping the colors separate. Another is wooden with a thumb hole; this one is good for blending. The third is larger, rectangular, and made of molded plastic. I use it for when I’m going to be working longer and with more colors.