Why We Created Cobalt Studios
Rachel Keebler and Howard Jones founded Cobalt Studios in 1988. It has been exciting to train students in the Scenic Arts over the years.
Over the years, we received many calls from employers asking us to recommend painters. We found that the list of qualified people we could recommend was too short. Many employers bemoaned the lack of fully-trained scenic artists on the jobsite. Designers often made design compromises due to a scenic artist’s lack of training to execute in a variety of styles or to solve problems created by inventive designs and new materials. Producers and Technical Directors paid for wasted time and materials due to lack of project planning skills and knowledge.
We both attended and taught in theatre programs at big universities, learning the limitations of these systems: student focus split in too many directions; the viewpoint that scenic art study is only a step to becoming a designer; the lack of time to fully teach and to practice and master the many complex subjects of the Scenic Arts; the competing pressures of production and class deadlines causing anxiety, frustration and overwork.
Cobalt Studios is modeled after the Guilds from the Renaissance. Here we combine the classroom experience with the workshop experience. We reflect those guilds where a cohesive group of artists nurtured a respect for their craft as an active part of their community life, bound together through mutual respect; craftsmen who taught the traditions, skills and art of their craft and passed this down through their “knowing” hands.
The program is also modeled after the program at Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s school for architecture. For half of the time, professionals teach classes to the students: a combination of lectures, demos, individualized projects and practice. For the other half of the time, students become apprentices on real jobs, applying class lessons in full scale, working with and under the watchful eyes of professionals. In this way, Cobalt develops the eye for judgment, imparts skill to the hands and arms, and passes on the scenic painting techniques for Scenic Artists to meet the challenges of their craft.
Cobalt Studios is a base from which we are developing a pool of successful painters who have a positive commitment to our craft.