The continuing love affair with burnt umber – The Drowning Girls set

I have often said that the set ain’t finished till the burnt umber goes up. Often used in finishing touches, especially with dry brushing and distressing techniques, burnt umber is a gorgeous, warm dark chocolate brown on the reddish side of the brown spectrum.

Imagine my glee when The Drowning Girls set designer Ed Rosing told me he’d purchased a gallon of it to paint the burlap-covered floor of the set. That’s where I’ve been for a few days this week – two weeknights and yesterday late morning till mid-afternoon: up in the Alumnae Theatre studio space, playing with burnt umber, feeling its creamy brown smoothness as I dip a styrofoam cup into the bucket to pour it into the funnel, channeling the paint into squirt bottles – and going home with bits of it still under my fingernails.


I’ve included some in-progress shots of the set. Yep, those are three old-fashioned footy bathtubs – fibre glass so they were less cumbersome to cart up to the third floor of the theatre. The floor is painted burlap. We required a little practical problem-solving yesterday: the latex paint was coming off on the actors, who are wet from the tubs. Thanks to Peter Fortier at Prime Time Paint & Paper, Ed found a solution: a hybrid oil/water varnish that we can use to glaze the floor.

Set in progress
Post-paint – base with a bit of texturing

Also with thanks to Daniel Gamper at White Lamb Finlay Inc., who gave us a good deal on the burlap. And to producer Andy Fraser for coming to our rescue with a second gallon of burnt umber yesterday. Here are some pics.

Published by life with more cowbell

Multidisciplinary storyteller. Out & proud. Torontonian. Likes playing with words. A lot.

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