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  • katybateson

3 scene painting tips

Scene painting is a wonderful and greatly underused improv tool. Simply put it is describing the location where a scene happens or describing what a character looks like.


Often scene painting is used like a gimmick for laughs but it can be used to create rich and vivid scenes that lifts our improvisation to become more like a play.


Here are 3 scene paintings tips that will help you take your scene painting to the next level:


  • Remember the 5 senses - touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Using these to describe an an environment create a more vivid image for the audience and improvisers a like.  If you were in a cafe you might be able to smell the deep rich roasted coffee, see the condensation trickling down the windows, hear the murmuring of a couple deep in conversation etc

  • Be aware of where scene painted objects are. An audience will notice if you walk straight through a table and it’ll quickly distract and detract from your scene. Try not to make your scene painting too complicated, we don’t want the environment being an assault course for the improvisers!

  • Don’t use scene painting to put another improviser in the shit! If you scene paint a character give the improviser gifts, help them to create an interesting character that the might not normally play e.g. She has long grey hair that flows down to her lower back, she wears a beautiful floral dress with jangling silver bracelets on both wrists, she smells of lavender and Jasmin. Don’t use it as an excuse to try and be “funny” and give your fellow improviser an intentionally ridiculous character to play.


I love scene painting and how it can create vivid and engaging scenes. I’ve used scene painting to create a new Longform format called Triptych which is a joyous 3 person format. You can find out more about my upcoming Tryptych courses here.

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