Studio and Forum Curriculum

Each semester consists of 13 five-hour Studio classes on Saturdays with instruction in the foundations of scene painting. Students will learn about light and color theory, layout, handling of paint and other scenic materials, and methods of reproducing master paintings. In addition to the Studio classes,  Forum seminars will be offered each semester. The Forum classes are short-term seminars designed to give more specific technical instruction in areas such as architectural perspective, faux finishes, sculpture for the theatre, and other specialty crafts. The school syllabus is designed for a student enrolled for the entire three years; however, it is also possible to take individual semesters and Forum courses. This option allows students to brush up on their scenic skills, or simply learn a specific technique. We recommend the full three-year program for anyone who is looking to pursue being a Scenic Artist as a career. Many of our students have taken the USA Local 829 Scenic Artist exam and have gone on to have successful employment as Union scenic artists. Click here for a look at 829's website.





The Studio class is designed to give students hands-on knowledge of the tools and techniques they need to become a professional Scenic Artist. Students will have the same teacher throughout the program and will receive individual as well as group instruction. 

Along with teaching students about their assigned projects, the instructor will also provide guidance on portfolio and resume construction.The following is a list of the topics covered in the Studio classes over the three-year program: 

13- week sessions in the Studio, 5 hours long. Students work through each project at their own pace.

Studio Projects:

- Panel Molding and Painted Ornament.           

- Opaque Landscape - Corot Study

- Light and Color Theory

- Trompe l’oeil : Gold Ornament on Marble

- 17th Century Painters: Reproducing a Vermeer

- Painters of the 18th Century

- 19th Century Art movements

- Painting from the Designer Elevation


Technical Studies:

- Tools and Materials for the Theatrical Scenic Artist

- Safety and the Scenic Artist

- Process Analysis

- Theatrical Backdrop Preparation

- Drawing and Layout 

- Handling paint and dyes

- Single Translucencies, Double Translucencies

- Opaquing Methods

- Textural Applications


past courses/subject to change


#1 Summer Forum: Faux Finishes: Woodgraining

Instructor: Lynn Muniz

2 Saturday classes


This is the first in a series of 3 seminars covering Faux Finish techniques as they are applied to scenic painting for theatre and film. In this seminar, students will explore various woodgraining methods, painting samples on hard panels. Lynn Muniz is an 829 Charge Artist specializing in theatrical scenery painting. Woodgrain is one of her many specialties.


The cost of the Woodgraining course is $300 which includes all materials.



#2 Summer Forum: Faux Finishes: Stone, Brick, Marble

Instructor: Steven Purtee

2 Saturday classes


Steve Purtee is an 829 Charge Artist Emeritus specializing in theatre scenery.
Stone, brick, and marble are three of the most common finishes that the scenic artist is called upon to replicate. This class will cover various techniques on hard panels involving textures and trompe l’oeil finishes. This is the 2nd of 3 Faux finish seminars. 
He has charged over 100 Broadway shows.

The cost of the course is $300 which includes all materials.



#3 Summer Forum: Faux Finishes: Metal, Leaf, Patinas

Instructor: Jane Snow

2 Saturday classes

This class is the third in a series covering common faux finish techniques. Students will leaf a small ornament, experiment with different leaf applicators and gold paints, and attempt a trompe l’oeil gold painting on panel.
Jane Snow is an 829 Lead Artist specializing in theatre scenery. She has been painting and sculpting scenery for 40 years.


The cost of the course is $150 which includes all materials.


#4 Summer Forum: Explore your Space and Unlock your Potential

Instructor: Irina Portnyagina

4 Saturday classes


Classes will consist of: Introduction to Perspective, Exploring Single Point Perspective, Exploring 2 Point Perspective, Slopes and Angles in Perspective, Circles and Curves in Perspective, Reflections, Shadows in Perspective...and there’s more!! Irina Portnyagina is an 829 Charge Artist specializing in theatrical backdrop painting. Irina was trained as an architect in Ukraine. 


The cost of the course is $480 and includes all materials.

In addition to the Studio classes, Forum Seminars will be held each summer.


#5 Summer Forum: Drawing Architectural Ornament

Instructor: Richard Prouse

2 Saturday classes


This class will help students familiarize themselves with basic architectural forms that scenic artists must understand and be able to draw. Students will copy a series of classical ornaments using charcoal, graphite, and chalk on paper. Advanced students can paint en grisaille on muslin panels. When the 2 sessions of this class are over, students will have a collection of architectural sketches for the portfolio and will have developed a wider visual reference of the elements of classical Western architecture.Richard Prouse is an 829 lead artist who excels in drawing and painting backdrops, as well as sculpting, costuming, designing, jewelry-making, and ballroom dancing.


The cost of this course is $260 which includes all materials.


#6 Summer Forum: Freelancing in New York - How to get jobs in New York

Instructor: Joseph Forbes and Valerie Light

1 Saturday class


This seminar will help scenic artists navigate the non-union labor market in the New York Metro area. Top- ics will include: finding employment, networking, presenting oneself to potential employers, resume writing, building a portfolio ( more on that in the final Summer Seminar- #8 Portfolio Review ), how to discuss job parameters & pay, 1099/invoice work vs W2 work and Quarterly Estimated Income Taxes, understanding scenic etiquette in the workplace, and some coverage of basic safety & work conditions.

NOTE: Participants will bring their portfolio of artwork via appointment to be reviewed by Joseph Forbes and   Valerie Light. Participants in this seminar, #6 Freelancing in New York, will receive a 20% discount on thePortfolio Review class - $80 rather than $100.

Joseph Forbes is the owner of Scenic Art Studios and founder of the Studio and Forum of Scenic Art. Valerie Light is an 829 scenic artist who was the co-founder of Infinite Scenic LLC.

Cost of the Freelancing course is $100 which includes all materials.



#7 Summer Forum: Foam Carving for Artists

Instructor: Jane Snow

4 Saturday classes


Foam is the main medium for carving moldings and ornament in theatre, film, and television. In this class students will experiment with two different types of foam and select an ornament to carve in relief. The instructor for this course is Jane Snow, an 829 lead artist with extensive experience as a theatrical sculptor.


The cost of the course is $520 and this includes all materials.


#8 Summer Forum: Portfolio Review

Instructor: Joseph Forbes and Valerie Light

1 Saturday classes


The purpose of this class is to help you assemble a portfolio that accurately and

clearly represents your abilities and potential as a scenic artist.

The cost of this course is $100. If you also attended the #6 FREELANCING class, you

receive a discount for this class; the cost would be $80.