Photo of UW-Parkside student holding an example of a theater scene painting backdrop

A UW-Parkside student holds up an example of a theater scene painting backdrop

UW-Parkside Theatre Arts Associate Professor Jody Sekas has adapted his scene painting class not just by channeling his inner Bob Ross and showing the students the joy of painting through online videos, but also by going above and beyond by sending them what they need to finish the class.

Sixteen students are currently enrolled in Sekas’ THEA 380 – Scene Painting course, learning scene painting techniques for use in theatre, film, and TV. Their remaining projects were painting faux stone, brick, concrete, and granite; painting several styles of faux wood grain; painting faux marble; and, a final 4’ x 6’ muslin backdrop. Sekas examined what projects were remaining and narrowed down the selection of images his students were going to re-create so they could use a palette consisting of just 13 different paints. He then created kits for each student with all of those different paints and the tools they needed to finish the job: brushes, sponges, spray bottles, charcoal, and empty mixing containers.

Students had been doing their previous projects in the scene shop at Parkside on 4’ x 4’ canvases. Sekas altered the project sizes down by half and provided them with new canvases that could reasonable fit into their cars and homes. He then created a schedule for each of the students to arrive to pick up their kit, ensuring that they would maintain social distancing rules when doing so.

Finally, he made a series of tutorial videos for each project using two cameras. After learning to edit with Adobe Premier Pro, he shared the completed videos with the class via a different kind of canvas—namely, Canvas, the learning platform that UW-Parkside use to access course materials. The students are asked to follow along with the videos and upload their project photos when they are finished.


Interview with Associate Professor Jody Sekas

Jody Sekas, a member of the theater arts faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, talks about teaching classes like Scenic Painting online, along with Lynsey Gallagher, a sophomore theater major at UW-Parkside.   Also-  Brian Gill, who is also with Parkside’s theater faculty,  talks about teaching Stage Combat online. Listen to WGTD interview