Painting in a Pandemic: My CUTF Project

Hello, my name is Jess Fitzpatrick, and this semester I am working on a CUTF project for the Theatre Arts department’s scene painting class. This class explores the fundamentals of painting for the theatre by teaching color and paint techniques while guiding students through creating large scale projects. Working with my faculty mentor, Gianni Downs, I have been able to collaborate on the general curriculum for the course as well as implement a new large project that will help students transition between paint theory and application.

This project is a culmination of previous research I conducted with a SURA grant the summer before my junior year, in which I studied tactile teaching methods for higher education. For that research, I attended a summer scene painting intensive program at Cobalt Scenic Studios. I then adapted projects from that program to create my CUTF project which evolved into a paint technique study where students will practice fundamental professional techniques and then apply those techniques to a texture study. In simpler words, students will explore using different tools and paint applications before using said skills to replicate textures such as bricks, stone, or marble in scale. The goal of this project is to give students the space to experiment with the materials, while providing them with the bedrock skills needed for their future projects. 

This project has been a long time in the making, so it holds a special place in my heart. As a Theatre Arts major and Secondary Education minor, I am always looking for opportunities to explore the subjects together, so I am grateful for the CUTF for helping me with that exploration. My eventual goal is to teach theatrical scenic design and painting after having a professional freelancing career. So as I see it, this project is an excellent testing ground for me before I pursue this goal. Working on this project with Gianni has taught me a ton as a student but also as an educator, and it is my hope that I can take the skills I learn from this project and apply them in graduate school as well as my career. Through my research and serving as an undergraduate TA, it’s become incredibly clear to me that being an educator isn’t just knowing the material but also knowing how to teach that material. I don’t know all the material yet, and I definitely don’t know how to teach it all, but I’m excited to learn!

I am a senior earning majors in Theatre Arts and English Literature and minors in Secondary Education in Studio Arts.
This summer I was hired to paint two murals for a cafe in Elmwood Park, Illinois and as pictured I am obsessed with overalls.

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