How To Transform a Big Mistake Into A Spectacularly Sweet Backdrop

Scenic artist Donna Wymore ‘inherited’ a large (20’H x 46’W), carnation pink backdrop. However, the drop, which was painted on linen, was splotchy and inconsistent. “The backdrop had areas of linen that were solid paint and other parts that were not. This was especially apparent once the drop was lit – it was a big, pink mistake.” Keep reading to learn how she turned this splotchy, pink mess into a sweet backdrop she rents to Nutcracker productions across the U.S.

Here’s how scenic artist Donna Wymore executed her plan:

The first thing Donna needed to do was paint 180 pieces of candy (painted on black-out liner fabric) – but, more importantly, she needed to make sure they would pop on the drop once they were applied. She accomplished this by adding a drop-shadow around the edge of the candy piece using a paint-striper filled with Rosco’s Off Broadway Scenic Paint. In the video below, you can see Donna’s technique with this tool as she explains to me what she’s doing.

Once her candy pieces were complete, Donna needed to attach them to the drop. However, due to the uneven paint coverage of the drop, she was worried that her normal glue options would exacerbate her problems with the uneven paint job. She needed a thicker adhesive that would adhere surface to surface, without seeping too deeply into the weave of the linen – yet also remain flexible on the fabric drop.


sweet backdrop Donna Wymore and her feline assistant applying candy pieces to the Candyland backdrop


After a quick explanation of its benefits, Donna decided that CrystalGel would be the perfect solution for this issue. It’s extremely flexible when it dries and the thick viscosity of the product provided the strong, surface-to-surface bond Donna was looking for. The CrystalGel didn’t leak through the areas of the linen that were properly sized – it didn’t change the hand of the fabric – and, most importantly, it didn’t affect the color of the drop (which was already problematic). “The CrystalGel didn't soak through the areas that were solidly painted. It also didn't leak through the areas that were starched but not thoroughly painted. If the whole thing were painted solid, it wouldn’t have soaked through at all. How wonderful!” Donna also found CrystalGel to be extremely efficient, as she reported that she used exactly one gallon to apply all the candy pieces you see here.


sweet backdrop Now that's one sweet backdrop!


Whether it’s adding highlight and shadow, adhering scenic accents, or transforming big mistakes into beautiful scenery – Rosco provides the tools that help scenic artists enhance their artistry.

Donna Wymore has been a professional scenic artist for the entertainment and exhibit industries since 1977. A theater arts graduate from Onondaga Community College (Syracuse, NY) and the State University of New York at Oswego, Donna has worked in Los Angeles, Denver and New York. She recently opened her own shop – Tuxedo Junction Fine Art – which sells and rents backdrops for the Nutcracker and other holiday productions. This includes “Candyland,” which is for sale on her website right now.


Jenny Knott November 12, 2015 Questions?

About Jenny Knott

Scenic Paint & Coating Product Manager: A graduate from the University of Missouri, Kansas City with an MFA in Design and Technology, Jenny has been a freelance scenic artist for over 30 years – working for regional theatres including Missouri Rep (now KC Rep), Arena Stage, the Guthrie and Goodspeed Opera House as well as union scene shops. Jenny is a member of United Scenic Artists 829 as well as a past member of USITT’s Board of Directors. Jenny continues to paint, which keeps her current with emerging scenic artists and helps her discover new ways of approaching paint challenges. “Bring on the goop and let’s get creative.”