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king of creativity

From habitat magazine - issue 37, doing it

From Thor, the king of New Asgard, to King Kong and the King of Rock 'n’ Roll, Chris Williams has painted scenes to the moon and back.

Creating movie magic with Resene paint - Chris Williams

Scenic artist Chris Williams creates movie magic with Resene on many movies filmed in Australia. On the set of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis he recreated the famous blues bar haunts on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950s using Resene Jalapeno and Resene Clover on the signage.

If there were an award for using Resene products in the most unusual places, scenic artist Chris Williams would take the gold. There’s certainly a splash of Resene FX Metallic Gold Dust and other metallic paints in many of the movies he’s worked on, like the golden realm of Asgard in Thor Ragnarök, silver space shuttles in King Kong movies and even Resene Lumbersider on the Hollywood sign in the movie Elvis.

The Gold Coast-based artist started his career selling small artworks at the Brisbane markets before taking a job at a theming company, where he learnt the tricks of the scenic-painting trade.

In the 17 years since, Chris has worked on Hollywood blockbusters, including Aquaman, Godzilla vs Kong and Elvis, and has created many imaginative scenes. “I manage a team of 15 to 60 people in charge of the look of every hard surface – buildings, rocks, spaceships and trees; it’s our job to make it impossible to tell if it’s real or created. On Elvis, the construction team built Beale Street on a Gold Coast lot, and we painted everything – from flaking concrete to the dirt on the road. We even painted every speck of rust on the Hollywood sign.”

Resene paints have become an essential tool of his trade. Chris has blended, experimented and brushed them in every way possible and is now an expert on getting the best from the Resene range. “There’s so much variety available, with different sheens and coverages. My favourite is Resene X-400 membrane paint great for painting cement surfaces. But I also use Resene Lumbersider waterborne low sheen, Resene FilmPro professional paints and the Resene Summit Roof range. The paints are tough and long-lasting, plus Resene does the best bright colours with exceptional coverage.”

With a job as multi-dimensional as scenic painting, it’s not surprising that Chris occasionally finds himself in a creative jam. “When working on Godzilla vs Kong, there was a specific shade of silver that I needed for the space shuttles that would break through the earth’s core. So I worked with Resene to create a custom colour we called Skull Silver. I’ve been through hundreds of litres of this colour.”

Painting and paint effects on a movie set

Painting on a movie set

Chris Williams - artwork

Brick exterior: The bricks and doorway of the blues haunt Club Handy in Elvis are painted using Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Wax Flower then aged with effects.  Club exterior: For the exterior of Club Handy, shot inside the Warner Brothers' studio on the Gold Coast, Chris used Resene SpaceCote Flat tinted to Resene Delta BlueArtwork: Chris has two gallery spaces on the Gold Coast where he paints and sells large abstract artworks such as this nature inspired piece in vibrant colours Resene Guru, Resene Vista Blue, Resene Rodeo Dust, Resene Coral and Resene Double Biscotti.

Abstract art – his own – has now become Chris’ creative outlet, an antidote to days expended capturing the perfect shade of sand. Chris spends about 70 per cent of his time on set, with the remainder dedicated to his large-scale, free-flowing minimalist artworks. He has two gallery spaces in Gold Coast shopping malls, where he fills empty spaces with his works and potential purchasers can contact him directly. “My scenic work influences my art; I can see how the paint blends and works in my day job and then carry that over. My art is for me; it’s my own thing with no rules.”

If life were as simple as painting by numbers, Chris would have a near-complete picture. He’s committed to working close to home, making sure he’s around for family surfing excursions and giving his kids the best ‘show and tell’ stories – who else can say they’ve jumped on the Hulk’s bed? He’s also ticked off a career goal – working with renowned Australian director Baz Luhrmann. Now it’s time to paint outside the lines. He has more film projects lined up, but he is also looking to new creative outlets, including custom commissions and building a ‘virtual art gallery’ with design and development company Koda Design. “Working on Elvis was a box ticked, and everything from here on is a bonus.”

top tip  There are many ways to distress walls or furniture using Resene products. Resene FX Faux Rust Effect will recreate the look of rusted metal on any surface or use Resene FX Paint Effects Medium for a two-tone effect or a lighter washed out colour effect. For more inspiration see the free habitat plus – special effects book available from Resene ColorShops or online.

› For more of Chris' art, visit

Words: Cheree Morrison
Images: Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures


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