Scenic Art

In the foreground towards the right, a person with short brown hair wearing a striped top and a tattoo on their arm sits at a desk with a paintbrush in one hand and a cup of water in the other. On the desk is a painting they are working on, as well as other paints and designs to copy from. In the background you can see other individuals at desks blurred in a studio.

Key information:

Course dates:
Mon 8 – Fri 12 July 2024
Course times:
Art form:
Production Arts
Bookings will close at 5pm on Sunday 30 June 2024 or when the course reaches full capacity
Level of study:
Short Courses & Summer Schools (ages 18+) | Short Courses & Summer Schools, Workshops & Saturday Centres (under 18)
Mode of study:
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Summer Schools (July–August)

Course info

This course has now ended. Join our mailing list to hear about future dates and new courses.

Ages 16+

Course Dates & Times

Monday 8 – Friday 12 July 2024

About Scenic Art

This five-day course in scenic art led by Vanessa Cass, Head of Design Realisation at Guildhall School, will introduce you to scenic painting techniques used to create realistic backdrops and set pieces for theatre, events and TV.

Who is the course for?
  • Anyone aged 16 and over, with an interest in learning new painting skills and more about the role of a scenic artist
  • All levels of ability are welcome
  • There is no upper age limit on this course. We encourage and welcome participants from all ages 16 and over.
What can I expect?

You will learn:

  • How to scale up from a designer’s model
  • Techniques for transferring an image
  • How to prepare a surface for painting
  • The correct way to mix colours
  • The appropriate choice of equipment and materials for your paint finish
  • How to achieve a range of paint effects like wood, stone, metal and marble
  • How to use textures to replicate bricks, plaster and concrete

You will work on a small backcloth on the paint frame and individual canvases of Trompe L’oeil painting (an art technique which means to 'deceive the eye' in French). Pieces of work can be taken home throughout the week.

Do I need anything for the course?

Please consider your choice of clothing and footwear, as you will be working with paint throughout the week. Old clothes, overalls and shoes are encouraged.

‘Vanessa was a wonderful tutor, very clear with instructions and very knowledgeable. […] super friendly and took the time to chat to everyone which made us all feel welcome and encouraged.’

– Phoenix, participant on Scenic Art, 2023

Course Fee


Participation Bursaries are available for this course. Please note the application deadline for participation bursaries has been extended until 3 June 2024.

This course has now ended. Join our mailing list to hear about future dates and new courses.


  • For everyone aged 16+. There is no upper age limit on this course. We encourage and welcome participants from all ages 16 and over.
  • No prior experience required.
  • Participants must have sufficient English language skills to cope with course demands.

About the Course Tutor

The course is taught by Vanessa Cass, Head of Design Realisation / Scenic Art Lecturer at Guildhall School.

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 and has worked for The National Theatre, Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Regents Park Open Air Theatre. Other scenic work has included adverts, corporate parties, theme parks, murals and children’s television.

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

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