Alright ladies and gentlefigs, this blogger now officially has a most splendid job to occupy her summer. Though it is only eight weeks of work, I cannot begin to express how excited I am to have work that is within my field and at an institution that has an excellent reputation. I am going to be acting as the Scenic Charge Artist for a summer arts camp out in Michigan. Basically, I could not have asked for a better fit. Not only do I get to be in a supervisory/management position that will further my experience within my field, but I also get the chance to work with passionate students who are spending their summer making awesome theatre. What exactly is a charge artist? Well, the title basically encompasses anything that has to do with any/all paintwork within a theatrical production/s.
In a theatrical production, there is usually a scenic designer (*please note that in a great number of situations, the designer can also act as charge artist, but we are going with an ideal template here), and the scenic designer imagines the physical world of the show (i.e. anything not costumes, lighting, or props. Again, people often cross-pollinate in the design world). They take their imaginings and create drawings based on a series of understood specifications so that the people responsible for actually making their ideas a reality (known as the production team) can firmly grasp the ideas of the designer in order to properly execute them onstage. For the charge artist, this means looking at a series of artworks called paint elevations, which are small paintings that are proportionate renderings of what the designer wishes the final paint treatments to look like onstage. From these elevations, along with extensive questioning of the designer, the charge artist must translate that small picture to full scale scenery for the stage. The charge artist must consider everything from ordering supplies, to mixing colors that perfectly match the elevation, to scheduling out when every piece will get painted based on the schedule of the carpenters actually building the scenery, to the actual techniques needed to accomplish the paint treatments. Mainly, a charge artist is an interpreter. An elevation is not just something that one can copy line for line and expect the desired result. One has to really listen to the designer, and determine how best to communicate that designers vision through the paintwork presented on stage.
My previous job was certainly not terrible, but part of the reason I did not return for another season was because my heart truly lies with painting and design for the theatre. Eventually, I want to be a full fledged scenic designer, and starting out working in charge artist positions is certainly an excellent way to begin laying the foundations for that castle. The Park allowed for painting opportunities, but not on a consistent enough basis to truly bring me joy. With this summer job, I get the chance to challenge myself within my work because it will be my first time acting as a titled supervisor within my desired job title. Such a chance is truly a gift, and on top of that the camp sounds like a really excellent atmosphere that encourages actually having fun in the process of making theatre. Not to say that the schedule won’t be rigorous, and the quality expectation is quite high. However, I am ready to meet that schedule and expectation, and I only pray that I can be a valuable asset to this team of wonderful artists. And plus I GET TO GO PLAY IN A GLORIOUSLY PRETTY PART OF MICHIGAN!!!