The difference between theater scenery and fine art painting is a matter of perspective.
"The main thing with scenery is everything is seen from such a distance," said Tracy Bischoff, set designer and scenic artist for the Grosse Pointe Theatre's production of "Oklahoma."
Painted backdrops don't have to be as fully flushed or have the detail of a painting to be framed and displayed.
Grosse Pointe Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma” continues through the weekend. For ticket information, call (313) 881-4004. photo by Renee Landuyt.
"You don't need crisp edges," said Bischoff, of Macomb Township. "It almost has to be larger than life."
The same with actor's makeup. Seen close, actors in makeup appear overdone and gaudy.
The same with scenery. Such as the cornfield backdrop in "Oklahoma." Two people-sized cobs flank the stage. Individual kernels are the size of bread slices.
"If you were on top of the corn and looked at every kernel, it's almost white in the middle and dark around the edges," Bischoff said. "But, where you get 30 feet away from it, which is almost the first row, that's where it gets perspective."
Bischoff is an artist.
"A lot of what I do in my regular business is painting murals for people's homes," she said. The esthetics separating dramatic from decorative murals are matters of detail.
"In a kid's bedroom, where they're going to by laying five feet from a fairly or something, the perspective has to be different," Bischoff said.
Community theater is a team effort, and Bischoff received help painting "Oklahoma's" scenery. "A couple cast members and some kids came down on weekends to help with base painting," she said.
When the play ends Sept. 30, some scenery will be tossed. Some will be stored for future productions.
"We have storage space at Eastland for big pieces that get reused," Bischoff said.
"Oklahoma's" windmill and water well are candidates for storage.
"The corn flats will get painted over with something else," Bischoff said. "A lot of flats from last year's 'The Music Man' were repainted for "Oklahoma."