Thursday, June 16, 2016

Out of This World Graphics

Does NASA have some fantastic graphic designers or what?

NASA Mars recruitment poster. Download HERE

There are a eight of them, each more gorgeous than the last.  Free.  

(In my next life, I'll be signing up to explore Mars... by then maybe they'll need theater designers, you think?  Meanwhile "some user assembly required" can be my motto onstage.)

Earlier cool NASA/JPL space travel posters HERE.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Kitchen Dog Theater's PUP FEST Today

Come celebrate 15 years of PUP Fest today as we launch 5 new high school playwrights into the world! Today at 1 and 4- totally free at Booker T!! Please spread the word!!
TODAY at 1:00 at Booker T. Washington H.S.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Producing on Broadway

Listen to National Public Radio?

Public domain image courtesy of

As I was driving between theaters yesterday I heard a fascinating interview with theater and film producer Scott Rudin on Fresh Air.  HERE.

No wonder the guy has five (5! count'em!) shows up for Tonys this season, has produced hits like The Book of Mormon, and been part of an incredible list of prestigious work in theater and film.  He's devoted to Broadway - watched every show from 8 years old on and started working there at 15.  "I'm a complete product of mentorship," he says, having worked for one after another of the great Broadway producers, learning as he went.

He reinforces my theory that those people who really want something, really love something, really want to learn... do.  Real masters seem to be self-educating; either self-taught or by way of finding the right teachers and insisting they be allowed to learn.  

Frighteningly focused and driven, really.  Excellence ain't easy.  Or easy to learn (his story about getting one boss's artificial leg fixed is pretty funny).

Listen up!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gummy Bears for Lunch

Sometimes a set designer's life gets a tad hectic.

At the moment I have three shows all building and all in Fort Worth - Wait Until Dark at Stage West, The Winter's Tale at Trinity Shakespeare Festival, and Don't Talk to the Actors at Circle Theatre.

A whole lotta car time.

And not much lunch time while driving between theaters (and the fabric stores etc. etc.).

I usually try to keep something healthy-ish in the car for when I'm desperately hungry, but yesterday lunch turned out to be an Opening Night present from Circle Theater's Under the Skin...  gummy bears from one of the actors.

Thanks Uncle Gummy!

ADDENDUM:  I forgot to add this link to a cool study of color palettes in films HERE.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Realized and Un-Realized

Sometimes a design gets built.  Sometimes it gets built and its a hell o' work and everyone deserves a medal!  And sometimes it never happens.

I've been digging through files of old drawings today and found a few things...

In the Hell o' Work file I found this actual medal that I created for the hard working set build team:

It was a ton of work - including lugging a ton of books - and, as it was supposed to be a Pritzker Prize winning architect's Manhattan penthouse, the construction had to be exquisite.  (More on that show with a photo HERE.)  Anyway, the team was incredible!

I also found a full design for a show that never was.  Never mind the particular play or theater (getting rights can be complicated), here's the scenery that never got built... an upstage wall that gradually stripped away, sliding panels that slipped away to reveal, by the end, the raw truth, red in tooth and claw.

Here's the plan:

And here's the progression:

Would have been interesting.  Too bad it never happened...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Haircuts for Radio and Other Weird Things

It's been a busy month or two.

At the moment I'm set dressing Wait Until Dark for Stage West and construction is starting on The Winter's Tale for Trinity Shakespeare, while I'm starting sketches for Circle's Don't Talk to the Actors.

Wait Until Dark, Stage West, design by Clare Floyd DeVries

But what was that about haircuts?

Yesterday a videographer for our local public radio station, KERA, followed me around the stage at Stage West, watching me safety-pin up giant (16' long!) B&W photocopies of the outside-the-basement-window view.  When this got boring (set designer with nice hair cut climbs ladder again!), the TD took us on an Alice's rabbit hole tour through the darkened corners of the theater.  We looked at ancient steel safes and old sofas up nifty counter-weighted folding attic stairs... Fun!  Explore the Theater could make a great virtual reality game.

I think the talk got more interesting too as the TD and I back-n-forthed over scenic problems.

Why all this videoed ridiculousness?

Well, KERA's Art & Seek has gotten a grant to document an artist a week for a year in a how-the-work-happens sort of thing.  As I understand it, there'll be a little bit on the radio and more (like vid) on the website.  Cool idea, huh?

Anyway, 52 weeks, 52 artists... starting, oddly, with me.

So that's weird.  On Monday they're coming by my studio to interview me.  (I'll be vacuuming till then.)  

More weirdness was my battle with the big rendering for the big big backdrop for The Winter's Tale.  I mean, I can design and I can draw... but painting... meh.  So I struggled with it for hours trying to meet the deadline - to the point where, when family arrived, I had to ask 'em whether the result was terrible or okay.  I couldn't tell.  (The consensus was "use it.")

Backdrop for The Winter's Tale, Trinity Shakespeare - design by Clare Floyd DeVries

So there I was yesterday, presenting this alleged artwork to a real painter - the scenic artist - with, as it happened, another very good scenic designer / painter whose opinion I respect looking over my shoulder.  

All he said was, "Colored pencil?"

"Watercolor pencil and colored pencil," I answered.  "But don't look at the technique, just the color."

Actually, that scene shop is absolutely stuffed with good painters who will, naturally, look at my, you should forgive the expression, "technique."  

I have now vowed to take an official watercolor class.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Break Time!

As a mental break from pressing deadlines and arriving-earlier-than-expected appliance guys (now two dishwashers smack in the middle of my kitchen)...

Here's an architectural day at the beach.

The website DesignYouTrust is featuring the beach house designs of Dionisio Gonzales  HERE.

Conceptual design for a beach house by Dionisio Gonzales, via

This one looks particularly fun.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

End of the Rainbow

At Uptown Players.

A show well worth seeing.  A good story - with  Judy Garland near the end of her career - a great cast and production.

Extraordinary leading lady!  Janelle Lutz.  Just... wow.

Opening was Friday night, so I've caught my breath again after the last mad rush that always happens.  I'm pretty happy with the set - a suite at the London Ritz in 1969.   With maybe a little secret tucked away.  Thanks big-time to TD / wiz carpenter Dennis Canright, set dresser Kevin Brown, prop designer Jane Quetin (who found great furniture), lighting designer Jason Foster (who made it look so good), and director Cheryl Denson (who, besides being fun to work with, talked me off a small ledge re: miss-matched fabric wall covering).

Special thanks to Ella Forester, fashion blogger of Els Chamber who kindly allowed us to use one of her photographs as the view outside Judy's window.  I'll attach a better photo with Judy at the window looking at that view when I get my hands on it, meanwhile...

End of the Rainbow at Uptown Players, photo (I think) by Dennis Canright

Here you can see the hotel room set, window closed, under theatrical lighting.  Just a hint of the view...

End of the Rainbow under construction - 
photos by Clare Floyd DeVries

The view as BIG copies.  Added bonus: a view of
building Judy's fantastic vintage Louis Vuitton style trunk

And here the view is at earlier stages.

Top above, newly installed view outside the window.  (And wasn't that a nasty tight triangular cubbyhole to work in filled with ladder, lighting equipment, speakers, and cables!  Imagine unrolling 3' wide x 10' high photos on crinkly paper, then - on a ladder with a stapler - trying to line up the architectural railings etc.  Arrrgh!)   

Above, the lower photo, see the view as four separate rolls of giant photocopies, getting trimmed and ready to hang.  

Because the original photo had very muted color, I was able to economize by getting black & white copies and then tinting them a little by hand, rather than paying much more for color copies.  The difference between under $40 and over $200.

That fantastic piano?  Another kind and very lucky loan.  If you notice the floor pattern... that was me, a week earlier, with a brush-onna-stick.

Come see End of the Rainbow.


Here's a photo of that window view as used in the show.

Uptown Player's production of End of the Rainbow -
Mike Morgan Photography

And here's that surprise...

Uptown Player's production of End of the Rainbow -
Mike Morgan Photography