Wood and Paint


Students will learn about and become familiar with different types of wood and cuts of lumber and their use in set construction. They will also learn about different types and techniques of painting and its use in theatre.



Materials Needed

Remind students to bring journals and clothes they can paint in. Meet in the scene shop or other area with access to different types of wood/lumber. Have paint, brushes, and other technique tools available.



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Pull out some pieces of lumber, plywood, wafer board, etc. Ask students if they can name any of them.




INSTRUCTION: Wood is the stuff that scenery is made of. What types do we have and what are they used for? Whenever a new type of lumber is presented, ask students if they can name it, or tell us what it is used for commonly in set construction.
1. Lumber: The most common type to use in theatre is common #2 White Pine because it is the best for the right price
a. Comes in a variety of sizes that we use for different purposes, used mostly for the construction of flats and platforms
i. 1 x 3 and 1x 4, used the most in making both Hollywood and broadway flats
ii. 2 x 4, used more in platforms because it is sturdier
iii. 4×4, also used more in platforms for strength
b. So let’s measure a 2×4 and see what size it really is…1 ½ x 3 1/2 . Why is this? 2×4 is the name given before the lumber is planed and ready for construction purposes. How does this affect set construction? Measurements have to be based off the actual measurement rather than the nominal one.


2. Panel wood: We use plywood the most because it is strong and cheap. There are other types.
a. Plywood. Commonly comes in 4×8 foot sheets. Measure it. It is 4×8 because it is a man made type of panel wood
b. Wafer board. A cheaper and less sturdy type. What might you use this for?
c. Particle board. Even cheaper and weaker. Really smooth surface so it is handy for painting into smooth looking surfaces.
d. Talk about any other types of wood you might have on hand and use regularly.


MODELING: These are the types of wood we will be using next time to make our flats.


CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: Have students pull out some stock scenery or look at current set pieces and name the different types of lumber and paneling that is used.


TRANSITION/hook: Most sets are not supposed to look just like wood. With a partner, list some ways that wood could be transformed to look like something else.


INSTRUCTION: Paint is the most common thing to use. Special paint for scenery does exist, but its really expensive and we probably only have regular house paint on hand anyway. Safety first…there are two types of paint, water-based and solvent based. Where could you find this info? The label! That’s why we don’t rip them off. Solvent based paint fumes are really toxic. We will work with water-based paint today to try out some common set painting techniques
1. Wood. Yeah, it’s already wood, but from offstage you often can’t tell. Sometimes you want a different color wood or a different grain pattern. First you paint a dark color and then go over with a lighter color on a wood grain roller to create a more visible grain
2. Stone. You can use roller to create the blocks and then use different painting techniques alone or in combination to pattern it, like spattering, scumbling, drybrush, stippling, ragroll or sponging. Demonstrate these techniques on a scrap piece of wood.
3. Wallpaper. This requires the most artistic skill. You can create a stencil, which is the best idea for uniformity, or you can freehand it for a very old-fashioned look.


MODELING: Demonstrate different techniques while introducing them.




GUIDED PRACTICE: Pair up and choose a type of background to create and use a scrap piece of panel wood to create the look you want. Try different techniques and pick your favorite.


CLOSURE and ASSESSMENT: After cleaning up, have each pair present their demonstration and have the rest of the class guess what technique(s) they used. Remind students to review the types of lumber and paneling before the next class since we will be using them next time.




Students can be assessed through their class participation and note-taking in a theatre journal.