3 Reasons Why Scenic Paint Outperforms Hardware Store Paint On Stage

Rebecca Grazi is a Connecticut-based artist specializing in portraiture and scenic painting. She recently had the opportunity to use Rosco Off Broadway Scenic Paint to bring two set pieces to life for Connecticut Ballet’s production of Coppélia. Having previously relied on hardware store paint to create her scenery, Rebecca instantly noticed the advantages of using Off Broadway. She shared three reasons why she appreciated having scenic paint to work with instead of hardware store paint to create the scenery for CT Ballet.

Ease of Picking Colors

Cans of Off Broadway and Clear Acrylic on the stage.

Rebecca recalled previous experiences of standing in a hardware store looking at paint swatches, hoping the color she chose would be what she needed. More times than not, however, she didn’t end up with her ideal color on stage. This may have been good enough for high school and summer program productions, but for Coppélia she stated, “I didn’t want it to be ‘good enough,’ I wanted it to be good.” By using Rosco’s Off Broadway paint, she not only saved time deciding, but she also received exactly what she wanted because the product was made for artists like her. “The colors are names that I recognize," Rebecca noted. "I didn't have to spend hours staring at paint swatches hoping I chose the right shade of brown.”  With names like “Burnt Umber” and “Yellow Ochre,” artists can visualize the appearance of Off Broadway paint colors and trust that the end result will align with their creative vision.

One Gallon Goes a Long Way

Samples of Rosco Off Broadway paint after diluting and color mixing.

“I watered down the paint, so it went further,” Rebecca recalled. By diluting Off Broadway with water, or with one of Rosco’s Clear Acrylic Glazes – or a combination of the two, a scenic artist can stretch their budget by saving on the amount of paint used. In addition to diluting, scenic artists can also use less paint by mixing their colors. Scenic paints like Off Broadway are made using an artist’s palette of pure tints that are designed to be mixed together. Because of the way they’re tinted, most hardware store paints will go muddy when they’re mixed. When faced with a limited budget, focusing on purchasing primary hues is beneficial because you can mix those colors and create an extensive range of vibrant secondary colors – without having to purchase the entire collection. By using Off Broadway scenic paint, Rebecca took advantage of diluting and color mixing and ended up using much less paint than expected.

Enhanced Quality Saves Time & Paint


CT Ballet Coppelia Paint_House Paint)Fiddler on the Roof Scenery copy
An example of the stage lights washing out the colors of a set Rebecca painted with hardware store paint.
CT Ballet Coppelia Paint_Rosco paint
The Coppélia scenery painted with Off Broadway Scenic Paint under stage lights.

By using Rosco scenic paint instead of hardware store paint, Rebecca not only saved valuable time but also saved paint by needing fewer coats. Rebecca shared that her drying time was cut in half by using Rosco Off Broadway paint. With a single coat, her work came to life in record time, which gave her more time to focus on the fine details of the set design. Rebecca also noted that when she used hardware store paint, multiple coats were typically needed to adequately cover scenery in order for it to withstand the illumination of stage lights. Because it was designed to be used on stage, Off Broadway steals the spotlight with its excellent coverage to create vibrant scenery under bright stage lights.


Ballet dancers on stage featuring a set painted with Off Broadway paint.

Using scenic paint undoubtedly comes with a higher upfront cost than hardware store paint. The benefits it offers, however, outweigh the higher sticker price. By using Off Broadway paint, Rebecca saved precious time by needing fewer coats, and she also saved money by diluting her paint and by mixing to create colors she would have otherwise needed to purchase separately.

After comparing the differences, Rebecca stated, “I think you can do a lot of good work with hardware store paint if you know what you're doing, but there is definitely a difference in quality. If I have the option in the future, I would definitely prefer to use Rosco paints again.”

Cans of Rosco Off Broadway paint.

If you would like to see other examples of Rebecca’s work, including her portraiture, you can visit her website: Drawn-to-Me.com, or follow @RebeccaLGrazi on Instagram. To learn more about the scenic paint that she used to create the scenery for Connecticut Ballet’s production of Coppélia, please visit the Off Broadway product page on the Rosco website.

Brittney Pecor June 08, 2023 Questions?

About Brittney Pecor

Prior to joining Rosco in 2018, Brittney worked as a lighting technician and light board operator in a variety of theatrical and concert venues. In her prior role as a Project Manager for our Rosco Architectural division, Brittney gained extensive knowledge of our architectural products as she built relationships with our customers. Her background in Live Entertainment and her experience with Rosco’s architectural products make Brittney a valuable resource for technicians and designers around the world.