Scenic Art

Scenic Art at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama is taught by Vanessa Cass who is also the head of the Design Realisation Department.Vanessa Cass

Vanessa originally studied for a Fine Art degree at Leeds University. For a number of years she combined working at the Royal Academy of Art with having a studio and producing her own artwork. In 1994 she studied Scenic Art and Prop Making at Central School of Speech and Drama and went on to work full time as a Scenic Artist.

She has painted scenery and backcloths primarily for theatre including work for The National Theatre, The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and Regents Park Open Air Theatre. Other scenic work has varied widely and has included adverts, corporate parties, theme parks, murals and children’s television.

She joined the Guildhall School in 2000 and has also taught Scenic Art part- time at Central School of Speech and Drama. She recently completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

What is scenic art all about?

Scenic artists paint all of the scenery for theatre, film and television.  Utilising a vast array of artistic and creative skills, scenic artist can recreate any surface, texture or finish required for a design.  The work of a scenic artist can range from more detailed fine art tasks to larger, broader processes such as a paint effect on the stage floor.

Scenic artists can work on almost any material, switching from painting large scenic canvases to breaking down steel work depending on the needs of a production.

Skills learnt include texturing, wood graining, marbling, spraying, stencilling, scaling up, signwriting, blending, colour matching and trompe l’oeil to name but a few…


2 thoughts on “Scenic Art

  1. David Ashton

    Hi there,I work as a scenic artist producing backcloths for theatre.Most of our cloths are aprox 40ft wide x 20ft high.Can you recommend a quality projector that will retain image definition on this scale.
    Regards David Ashton.

    • Hi David, for most of our cloth projection we still use the old overhead projectors. Not the brightest things in the world especially on a larger scale but they are relatively low cost and low tech yet they can be focussed at several metre distance from the cloth. Fortunately for us, our paint shop can be in complete darkness so I think if you have windows you may struggle. We have also borrowed our AV departments full size digital cinema projectors to do floors by flying it up facing downwards on a flying bar. These cost thousands of pounds unfortunately and I don’t have enough knowledge of them to recommend one in particular although I would imagine in most situations purchasing one purely for scenic art purposes would be just too expensive.
      Thanks for your question

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at


at Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Guildhall Theatre Technology Blog

Theatre Technology pathway blog at Guildhall School


The Guildhall School of Music & Drama's Prop Making Weblog

Armadillo Artifacts

Relics and curios.

Design Realisation (Scenic Art, Scenic Construction and Prop Making)

Step backstage into the workshops at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

%d bloggers like this: