Christmas Window Painting
My Work After Several Years
Christmas Painting on Windows
The Adventures of a Window Painter-the Fascination
When I was a little girl I remember being fascinated by those artistic paintings on windows that seemed to appear overnight around Christmas time - one day there were only panes of glass then the next day there were beautiful pictures painted on the glass of snowmen, pine trees, happy colors and holly berries.
Truly magical it was, to see those paintings appear seemingly overnight!
I used to think that whoever painted these windows must have been part of some secret Santa society of little elf painters, that came out in the dead of night to magically paint all the windows in town!
As I got older my fascination with these window paintings never went away.....
I always wondered who did these windows, how did they do them and most of importantly, when did they do them? I never seemed to be able to catch anyone in the act of doing one, so the mystery continued for me well into my twenties.
I was SO intrigued by these artistic paintings on windows that I even went out and took pictures of the windows, somehow hoping that by capturing these works of art on glass that I could somehow pin down who was doing these!
After my first son was born the mystery continued for me, even to the point that I decided one year that I was going to figure out how to do these windows, one way or another. So off I went to the art store in Santa Cruz to pick the brain of the clerk to get ideas on what paints I could use to paint some of these pretty windows for myself.
Armed with several bottles of tempera paint and brushes, I went back to my house feeling very satisfied, as if I had somehow just cracked some secret code into the art of painting windows. I mean after all, I had the paint now, didn't I ? All I had to do now was figure out how to do the actual painting , right?
Well Christmas came and went, the paints stayed in their boxes, and another year went by- my attention now onto other things. Armed with my pictures and my paints, I packed up and headed back to the San Francisco Bay Area, toddlers in tow (I now had 2 sons) - going through a divorce and seeking a refuge of my own.
It seemed like the elusive art of painting on windows was going to stay elusive, at least for awhile.
A few months after I settled down into my new place, I felt compelled to venture out one chilly night, with my 1 and 2 year old in tow, to take a walk through the outside mall downtown (this in itself was strange - as any mother knows it's no easy task getting 2 children ready for a drive, then a stroll, especially at night in the cold...it requires strategy, skill and perseverance...)
Actually meeting a window painter - finally!
So as we strolled down the sidewalk that cold chilly night, I saw what I thought was a mirage. In front of Nations Hamburgers were 2 women doing the unthinkable- painting a window....
I just about fell out - I had finally caught them!! They were the ones doing all this mischievous merriment on the windows all this time!! There were actual real live people doing this!
It was surely fate that had brought me out that night.........
Not one to miss an opportunity like this, I struck up a conversation with the 2 friendly ladies and I asked them the questions I'd always been wondering about:
How do you do this?
How do you get people to let you do this?
Do you actually get paid to do this?
( It just seemed too hard to believe that one could actually get paid for having that much fun!)
After a very long talk with the two ( which I was quite grateful for that they took the time to even talk to me), I finally got enough nerve to ask them if they needed any help.
They told me that they didn't need any help but that they had a friend that also painted windows and she usually hired a person to help her every season. So they gave me their friends phone number and encouraged me to call her.
I went home that night on cloud nine. I had not only got to see the magic of painting on windows actually unfold before me, but I even had a possible chance of being able to be apart of the magic myself!
So the next day I called Lisa, their friend, and immediately her and I hit it off. Although she had already hired someone to work with her that season, she invited me to come and join her painting windows for the next couple of days.
So out came my paints and we met at a prearranged place. That day I actually started my window painting career.......and I think that day I must have made the largest holly berry in the history of window painting! The more uneven my holly berry became the larger it got until it was the size of a small basketball. Ever encouraging, my new friend Lisa just laughed and said ( "it's fine") I knew it wasn't but was encouraged by her kinds words to continue on in my endeavours.
Now armed with my paint and a little knowledge , I got very brave and went out for the next few days to several of the local stores, and talked a few of them into letting me paint their windows. That Christmas was the best ever!
Not only was I having fun but I was making money having fun! And I had an envelope full of money from my painting that I could actually use for Christmas, which as even more fabulous! My kids and I were going to have a great Christmas that year!
And we did.
Now what happened during the next year would change the course of my life- as painting art on windows not only became my profession but netted me a new husband too.
- Link To My Virtual Art Gallery Store
My BlogSpot which has some of my newest artwork in Adobe Illustrator CS2
More Christmas Painting: Every Year I Tried New Things
This Was A Favorite Window Painting One Year
coolschool on January 03, 2015:
that is so cool.i have not seen that befor
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on February 09, 2014:
@Mary) Gosh I just saw this comment. I need go in and check my settings! Thanks for dropping by!
Mary Strain from The Shire on November 09, 2013:
So interesting, Dorsi! I had forgotten this, but you're right, back in the day everyone did this during the holidays! I had no idea people were paid to do it! Your paintings are beautiful, and thanks for educating me.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 18, 2012:
@Mike) So nice to meet you and sorry for the late reply. I've been out painting lol. I loved your story and encouragement to others to keep on painting and to learn. Yes, life is too short not to use the gifts that God has given us. Please stay in touch Mike. Would love to see some of your work.
@Connie) Thanks so much my sweet friend.
Connie Smith from Tampa Bay, Florida on December 14, 2012:
This was a great story, Dorsi, and as always, I am amazed by your talent.
Mike on December 03, 2012:
Many thanks to you Dorsi for your input, I have been painting since I got out of art college in 1973. I attended thew college for only two years, as I started getting sign painting jobs right away, and this continued thru the early 90's until I hit a snag and hung the brushes up seemingly forever. Thankfully though, this wasn't to be, and I found that I couldn't say no to any job request, even if I had no idea how to do the work. I started working for a furniture store in the early 90's and that killed my artwork for the next few years, until the owner of the store started looking for someone to paint his windows. I mentioned to him that I had been painting for twenty plus years, and before I knew it, I was back at it again. I painted his windows for all of the ad campaigns, I painted on the exterior walls of his warehouse, I even lettered the delivery trucks.
I am still currently working for the same company, but only part time, as I now am drawing social security, and have started painting on Christmas windows with a vengeance. I am now 62 years young, and God has blessed me with fairly good health so I feel that I may be back in the saddle again with my art career. My advice to all of you that are thinking of this as a career is to go for it, I wish that I hadn't wasted the last 20 years in retail sales, as this is a lot more rewarding financially, and I almost never received the kudos selling furniture that I got painting. I remember painting a picture of the Dukes of Hazard "General Lee" on my sons wall in his bedroom that he asked me to paint, when we listed our house to sell it, that picture was responsible for us selling the house to people that had a son that loved that painting. So definitely go for it, as life is too short for woulda coulda shoulda. Also, I live in Medford Oregon and it does get pretty cold down here, but I have always used acrylic paints with very good results. I use a white base for fluorescent colors of acrylic, or latex house paint, and it always produces great results.
I will finish with this, I was painting on a fleet of logging trucks, pouncing the pattern on each door, and painting on the doors with one shot lettering enamel (99 trucks in all). Well about 30 some trucks later (over the course of a month or so), I was outside painting, when a whirlwind (dustdevil) came thru and picked up my pattern and carried it maybe 50 feet into the air and I had to get in my car and chase it til it dropped to the ground. It wasn't so funny at the time, but looking back on it now, it seems quite funny. I have had a long interesting life, and painting signs has been a major part of my life, I don't look back with any regrets except I wish I had been painting all this time. If anyone has any questions about painting, I will be happy to share whatever I can with anyone. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 27, 2012:
@Inga) You are so welcome Inga. I paint from the outside so the white goes down first then the paint. Some areas though need to be painted from the inside though if you are in a very wet and snowy area.
INGA on November 18, 2012:
I have just started Window painting for myself in my small Office..I have had several comments and have been asked if I would concider doing it for others..I declind the offer but was very awesome that I was asked. I use craft paint..sometimes it goes on well and other times I have to work a little harder. I would love to try the white backing but I like my customers to be able to enjoy it from the road side as well as inside..
Thank you so much for sharing all of your tips and tricks!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on September 14, 2012:
@Jac) What a wonderful idea - I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing.
Sorry Jules no book yet but I'm working on it - life got in the way! You can also visit my website www.DorsiDiaz.com and I have a new page just for window painting. I will be uploading more photos of promo windows and Christmas scenes. Might give you some ideas.
Jules on September 12, 2012:
Did you e-book & or video come out yet?
If so, I would be very interested in purchasing. Can you post here how to purchase?
Jac on August 24, 2012:
Thanks so much for your information. Our town has been hosting a window painting event for Halloween for over 30 years and is always eagerly anticipated by participating families. The pictures are great and the storeowners are thrilled in the artwork as well as the extra town traffic. However, tempera paint was a problem with flaking and this year, we've decided to go acrylic. Problem was, art acrylic paint is very expensive and beyond our meager budget. So I am experimenting with house acrylic on my own windows. According to your site, it seems that this is the way to go. It would make it affordable. We do a BYOB (bring your own brush) and charge a minimal amount for participation to cover the cost of paint. A committee cleans the windows afterward, and used the razor and window cleaner method successfully. Taping and protecting the windowsills and sidewalks is very important during the event and at cleanup. Last Halloween, 50 windows were painted to rave reviews. Hopefully, this year will be even better. Thanks again for your advice.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on February 14, 2012:
Hey Daniel) That's awesome. Nice to "see" you again! What states are you painting in?
Chicago / Wisconsin Artist Daniel on February 13, 2012:
What's up fellow sign painters and artist. Its time to get the valentines off the store fronts and start to market the st. patrick day and easter windows. Average time to paint is 6 weeks before the actual holiday.Good luck ....2 states now painting the windows...
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on January 20, 2012:
@Kathy) A big razor blade - 6" or more - you can get them at janitorial supply stores.
Kathy on January 19, 2012:
Yes, but how do you get that paint off the windows after Christmas??? When the paintings are big and cover many windows a razor blade would take forever.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on January 09, 2012:
@Laura) Try painting with something a little more durable like exterior gloss house paint. White background first and it should last quite a while.
Laura on January 06, 2012:
Have customers asking me to paint on windows but want them preserved...what has worked best for you so they don't chip/peel? And I am wondering how they can wash the windows with the paint scenes on them and not have it wash away....any ideas?
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 20, 2011:
@Window painting) My cousin is a realtor too who also window paints! It is part of us once we paint, isn't it lol?
@gloria) Just some common house paint would be fine - indoor water based.
@Leah) Water based house paint works fine. And read the comments here - there is a wealth of advice. Best of luck!
Leah on December 13, 2011:
Hello Dorsi, my sister & her husband just got their own store & asked me to paint their glass window for the Holiday season & their grand opening. This will be my first time. What paint should I use? And please give me advice on what & what not to do. It will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance! (:
gloria on December 13, 2011:
quick question...I would like to paint words....sayings on my mirrors for christmas....but not sure what kind of paint would work well and then come off without damaging the mirror...any ideas?
Window Painting on December 11, 2011:
These are great! I am a window painter also. I love painting for the Holidays. I decided not to paint this year... Just too cold and I have been so busy with my regular job, Real Estate Agent that I am only painting our office. I know I will wish I painted anyways :D I have been window painting since 1993. I did skip a couple years in there but keep coming back. Can’t help it. I guess it's in my blood, Lol Keep up the beautiful work. It is a blessing that needs to be shared
alexander greatness on December 06, 2011:
okay I do window painting too.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 06, 2011:
@sandi) Outlining is the last thing I do. And I used Cal-western black from Mussons. If you are painting in reverse outlines go on first and need to dry before applying the other colors.
sandi on December 02, 2011:
no no tempra, i think maybe it was no dry. not a problem today. but what about the outlining questions? your advise is much needed.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 02, 2011:
@Shellly) I am so glad you found me and enjoyed the "secret". Have a great holiday!
@sandi) Sounds like a paint problem. Are you using tempera because it tends to crack like that.
sandi on December 01, 2011:
dorsi, YOU INSPIRE SO MUCH THANK YOU IVE PICKED UP ANOTHER WINDOW BUT THE REALLY STRANGE THING IS THERE IS A FEW OLD TIMERS AS LIKE TO CALL THEM THAT HAVE THIS TOWN TIGHTLY WRAPPED UP BUT WE PAINT TOTALLY DIFFERENT THEY PAINT SCENERY AND I PAINT I GUESS TOLE PAINTING AS THEY HAVE TOLD ME WHICH I LOVE TO DO, SO MY DILIMA IS PAINTING IN THIS HORRIBLE WIND FOR TWO DAYS THE PAINT DRIES WAY TO FAST BY THE THE TIME THE BRUSH HITS THE WINDOW ADD WATER IT SEEMS TO CRACK OR GET REALLY BUBBLY WEIRD AND VERY FRUSTRATING. DO YOU OUT LINE YOUR LAYOUT IN BLACK THEN COVER WITH WHITE OR PIECE IN EACH COLOR SEPARATELY AND THEN OUTLINE AGAIN WHEN DONE ON THE INSIDE IS THE WINDOW ALL WHITE WITH A LITTLE COLOR SHOWING THRU FROM THE OUTSIDE PAINTING? JUST MILLION QUESTIONS I SURE LIKE USING ROLLERS JUST WISH I COULD GET THEM IN TWO AND ONE INCH WE NEED TO DESIGHN THEM.
Shelly on December 01, 2011:
I just read your tales of window painting to my 9 year old. You see I was googling the very thing you were describing; How too's on this wonderouse thing called window art. I lauphed so hard because I felt like finally SOMEONE out their is just like ME! I too have wondered about these magical crations which really do appear over night. I too have tried to bust them in the act. I too want to be a window painting extrordinare! Thank you for giving me hope and a much needed chuckle~
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 01, 2011:
@Kim) Try using white as a base and try using foam brushes with wood handles or foam rollers. Best of luck)
@Claire)Good luck and I'm sure you will do fine!
@Jen) Hate to tell you this but painting from the inside takes a lot longer. Everything has to be painted in reverse order, yes you need to wait for paint to dry between layers - and yes put your white base on last. Best of luck.
@Tracy) Good advice. Thanks for your input.
Tracy Ann Hampton on December 01, 2011:
When I paint, I go from foreground to background, and as I am left handed, I go from right to left, and top to bottom. For instance, I do any areas in white, let these areas dry, etc.
As I use acrylic paints, I have found that if the paint is dry, and not too much pressure is applied, you can paint right over details that you wish to have in the foreground.
Remember, though, if you are doing lettering from the inside that you wish to be read from the outside, that you have to write backwards!
Jen from CO on November 30, 2011:
I just volunteered to paint some storefronts for a magazine competition. I have never done this before and I want to make sure they look great. I am more concerned that the store owners have fantastic looking windows that they are proud of than of winning the competition.
After reading everyone's comments, I am pretty confident of the paint that I should use. However, the majority of the windows will be done from the interior and I didn't read anything that necessarily distinguished the different techniques for layering an interior versus an exterior window.
When painting on the outside, I get the idea of using a white base to make the colors pop, but would you fill in the entire shape? For the interior, would you put the white on last?
How would you go about quickly creating layers or details, such as a pine tree with dimension or a cat's whisker? Do you have to allow each color to dry before adding on top or would you suggest just outlining each stroke as you go with the next color? If you do just layer colors on top of one another, letting them dry, I know that for the interior you would go light to dark, but if there are any black details, would you outline those or just wait for them to dry as well and paint over behind them?
I'm not sure if I'm being clear in what I'm asking. I guess my essential question is how to create dimensions and details quickly, as I'm assuming it takes awhile to let each layer dry? I know this is my first time and they won't be perfect, but I have several to do in not that much time and want them to be more than just stick figure outlines of objects.
I'm doing this on Friday, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!Thank you! :)
Claire Nicole on November 30, 2011:
Glad I found this! I just got commissioned to do a window painting...and all I have ever worked on is canvas. Hopefully it turns out alright!
Tracy Ann Hampton on November 26, 2011:
I loved your story! Much of it reminded me of myself! I have been painting store windows ever since my mother bought a pet shop, and I began to paint her store.
I have now been doing windows for almost 30 years! Boy, I didn't realize how long I had been at it until I counted it up!
I use craft acrylics, both inside and outside. I clean the windows up afterwards with a razor scraper, after I have sprayed the painting with a window cleaner. Make sure that the floor and window sill are well protected, though! Otherwise it will look like Mardi Gras on the floor/ground when you are done!
Thanks to all who commented, nice to read!
Kim on November 26, 2011:
I went today to paint and window and find that I'm running into the same problems I had last year. When I apply the paint to the window, it looks transparent and does not go on with a smooth texture. When I try and outline my characters, it looks rough without a smooth line. I'm just not sure what I'm doing wrong. I bough the cell vinyl and applied it but it even looks wrong;wondering about the brush I'm using. What about lettering? How is the best way to make the letters all even and to outline them? I would be appreciative for any advice. Thanks.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 24, 2011:
@Sandi) Take a photo of the window you painted and show prospective clients. That will help "sell" the job.
@Clarice) See if you can find Deka Paint. I'm not sure if they still sell it but it was the best acrylic in cans for EVERYTHING!
@mailexpress) lol yes I got a new husband out of the deal! And he ended up painting with me and helping me with my jobs for many many years! Thank you for reading.
Michelle Cesare from New York on November 23, 2011:
Wow, what great content with a wonderful story. So very cool. You got jobs and a new husband. That is awesome! Way to go. Enjoy the holiday season.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 23, 2011:
I am coming out of painting retirement to paint Christmas windows this year. Windows start at $50 per business (local Hayward) I will also paint in other areas of the East Bay. This year I will be having video and photo shoots done recording my painting because I will be writing my first E-Book on how to paint windows from A-Z. The E-Book will come out next year. If you or someone you know wants their business painted have them contact me via my HubPages email here. Limited spaces available.
Clarice on November 22, 2011:
The cabinet is metal. I applied some paint and it just looks weird; not sure if I'm just not talented or if it's the paint...acrylic and tempra. Maybe I'm not using the right brush? Thanks again.
SANDI on November 22, 2011:
THANK-YOU,NOW IF I COULD ONLY GET MORE CLIENTS THEY ALL SEEM TO WANT TO JUST STICK WITH THEIR PRE CUT VIYNL SIGNS,GOT ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO DRUM UP MORE CLIENTS GOT FLYERS OUT THERE,NOT ONE RESPONSE FROM THEM,DID A WINDOW FOR FREE NOW WHAT ?
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 22, 2011:
@Clarice) Is the file cabinet wood or metal?
@Christina) Try house paint. It's priced comparably to tempera and much easier to clean up.
@sandi)White is a great base but if you use decent house paint you can get away with not doing a base. For the outline Cal-West black from Mussons in Santa Clara is what I use.
sandi ferguson on November 22, 2011:
Dorsi, I have painted several places now it was not an easy task at first painting on a pre coat of whit is much easier than just placing each color one at a time it took me two days to do a ginger train this way and only a half a day to do it the othe way. do you out line everything and with what?
Christina on November 20, 2011:
Thank you, Dorsi! So much good information here. I'm returning as artwork mom for my daughter's girl scout troop down in So Cal. We paint a local store window as a troop every year, and we are supplied with tempera (and the ugly clean-up). Looks like I'll be tweaking our medium from now on. I'm hoping to make this into a business (and get away from my corporate accounting weenie job, LOL!) and appreciate your and everyone's helpful tips!
Clarice on November 20, 2011:
I had a question about general painting. I've been asked to paint on a file cabinet; for a retiring teacher. I tried applying paint;acrylics and tempra. I still don't like the look of it. Am I using the wrong type of paint for this type project? What would you use? Thanks again.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 19, 2011:
@Rochelle) Hello! Nice to see you! It is GREAT working big. The only thing that's hard is when I try to go back to painting "small" lol. Thanks for reading my friend.
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on November 18, 2011:
I've always been intrigued by this, too. I painted backdrop scenery for High school plays-- and a wall of my neighbor's daughter's room who wanted a gigantic rainbow.
Working big is a lot of fun. I always look at those store windows and think . "I could do that." I never have.
Glad you got a chance to live the experience.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 18, 2011:
@Laurie) Try to find RADIANT paint. It is A lot cheaper than Day Glo and works awesome. As for the razor, purchase a bigger 6" one from a window cleaning supply. Yes you do have to be careful removing the paint because you can scratch the window. I leave the removal up to my customers with instructions.
Laurie on November 17, 2011:
Haven't done a window yet, but am going to try this first on my sliding glass door OUTSIDE. I live in the Central Valley of Calif. so no snow or super cold temps. I got on You Tube and watched this gal do Christmas windows. What she used was Exterior White latex paint for black and white, and Day Glo flourescent paint for everything else. First, where do you get Day Glo paint, (It was expensive when looking on line) and how do you get all this off? I have never had to take paint off of glass, and this sounds like a really stupid question, but will a razor scratch the glass?
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 17, 2011:
@Kim) Try ordinary white house paint for your base and black Cal-West from Mussons in Santa Clara for your outline. Best of luck!
@Gina) Glad to hear from a fellow window painter from Ireland. Would love to see your work on Facebook. What's your name there so I can add you as a friend? (email it to me if you'd like at dorsidiaz@ gmail.com)
Gina Ellen from Ireland on November 16, 2011:
Thank you all for such fantastic information! I painted my first window only 2 days ago and have completed 3 more since... started on a friends house and WOW the compliments are fantastic... bookings are flying in jst frm posting pics on FB... I used Gouache poster paint and some soap (fairy liquid) learned it somewhere along the line as I've always been interested in all types of Art since childhood, I'm painting on the inside of windows, I would love the luxury of painting on the outside, but Ireland's weather would just not allow such! I have always thought that window paintings are amazing! Here I am now giving it a go... definitely a market out there - especially this time of year!
Keep up the good work! Tanx Dorsi!
Kim on November 16, 2011:
Hi....I just found this site and am seeking advice. I started doing some window painting around the holidays last year. I will be doing another window around Thanksgiving. My question (which may have been asked before) is, how do you keep your paint from cracking? I notice that I'm probably doing something wrong b/c when I paint on windows, either, the paint is transparent or when I attempt to cover or double coat, it cakes up and peels. Also, I would like information on outlining. What type materials do you recommend for outlining? I read about the house paint for the scope of the drawing; acrylic for the detail work. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 10, 2011:
@fergusons) Glad you came by and found this helpful. Good luck. I am sure you will do well!
@jeanie) Good point. I only use common house acrylic paint, NOT the artists type. And the black is water soluble. I get it from Mussons in Santa Clara, Ca.
jeannie on November 09, 2011:
and just to clarify: poster or tempera or "artists acrylic" paints: interior use only. If applied too thickly and/or windows dirty and/or too much moisture in the interior environment=cracking or peeling possible. Poster paint has been used by a lot of window artists (working from the inside) that I have seen over the years but it is possible that modern paint formulas have changed.
It is possible to work designs to be seen from both sides with a little thought, since the need to keep the above 'interior only' paints to a single stroke thickness means they are somewhat transparent. you will evolve techniques with practice.
I will also share my old mentor's philosophy on 'copying' other peoples' licks: learn from others but give it your own spin--and expect them to 'steal' it back! This is how music and commercial art work, I think.
jeannie on November 09, 2011:
More helpful info and shared experience, you guys are great! A couple of questions: Those folks who refer to 'comet' do you mean the 'creamy'type cleaner or the powder? And the person who referred to stage black, is that paint non-water soluble when dry?
I think for some of the newcomers it might be good to mark the difference between "Artists acrylic" paints and "acrylic" or "acrylic latex" house type paint whether interior or exterior. "Artists" acrylic paints are intended for crafts and fine art painting and although they are not water soluble when dry, and art paintings can be made quite sturdy with varnishes, the paints are not intended for exterior use! They will not withstand rain or prolonged dampness. I am not familiar with the limitations, if any, of "house" paints in the uses you folks are talking about, I used art acrylics once inside a small store and it did work, but they didn't seem to have much colour advantage over poster colours and were more expensive, besides not flowing as well in the brushes I use.
fergusons from placerville california on November 08, 2011:
I am blown away at all the advise and helpful hint thank you all, I am doing this in a few weeks and im a little nervous on how to do it,I have painted on wood for 16 years for yard displays and home décor but windows is different with the weather cold glass and all So if there is any more helpful hints please please let me know I love to paint and just want to get started on windows now because i can no longer get the wood I use to paint the yard diplays. Help Help with all suggestions thank you sandi
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on October 22, 2011:
@Barbara) I am so sorry to hear that. I have had that happen with tempera and that is one of the many reasons I don't use it. A white base with house paint will work much better, and in the long run it is less expensive. Remove with a big razor blade. This will last A lot longer and look better.
@malea) That is correct. Just cheap white house paint will work. It makes a great base and makes the colors on top "pop" more.
malea on October 20, 2011:
I have seen window art where a white paint was used under the actual artwork on the window. What is that paint and where do I find it. Does that make it easier to paint on and easier to clean? But then, on the inside all they will see is the white outline right? Please help me understand this! Thanks.
Barbara on October 18, 2011:
I grew up doing Halloween Window Painting in my home town in Rye, New York. I moved to Connecticut and just had a HUGE window painting event last weekend for charity with over 265 window painters. It was great and everyone was having a blast- AND THEN- all the windows began to peel and crack within hours. It was a disaster! Within 2 days, half of the paintings were gone and the stores looked terrible. I about died. We used Tempera paint. Different brands, but mostly Fresco from Michael's Craft stores Some painters used Borax with the paint, some didn't, some cleaned the windows with vineager, some didn't. It was very, very windy outside. Could this have played a part? I am afraid to use acrylic on 28 store fronts- does it come off as easily as tempera? How about the powder tempera? Is that better quality? Finally, someone on this thread suggested hair spray- Has anyone else tried hairspray? Everyone wants a solution because it was so much fun! I just need to get an answer! I can't believe that all of the stores have the tint/film that was mentioned. Perhaps a handful. But this was a real mess.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on October 10, 2011:
@Florence) Try using white as a base. You can also use ordinary house paint.
Florence on October 09, 2011:
I'm just getting started with inside window painting. I use the Tempera paint but it's transparant, what paint can I use to have a solid color, I have an inside home window to do for the Holiday and I can't have transparant paint.What paint can I use as solid paint and that would come off easy.I need help. Thank you Florence
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on October 07, 2011:
Thank you rikkie! Glad you like it.
rikkie on October 06, 2011:
love this site
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on September 23, 2011:
@Sally) So nice to see you my friend and thank you for the comment. I too have noticed less and less Christmas windows being painted the last few years. Hopefully I can change that by training some new artists in this dying art. Glad you enjoyed the hub.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 22, 2011:
I enjoyed this Hub and its comments so much! I have not seen a painted Christmas window in years and years, so it's wonderful to know that there are so many folks out there bringing this joy to others while also earning money. What a great morning read go along with my coffee!
Kent Moss on September 13, 2011:
Jeannie from Vancover,Canada
She said the black paint she likes,is Chroma'Poster.
Jeannie or anyone pl. tell me where 2 purchase this paint in the USA.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on August 18, 2011:
@lil'R-Tist) Thanks for stopping by and yes, just go in the store, ask for management and ask them if they would like their windows painted. To get started, I'd just ask enough to pay for your paints and materials to get you started. Then you will have enough paint to do your next job and will have some experience under your belt...
lil' R-tist on August 13, 2011:
Hi, I have spent the night researching window painting because I would like to start doing it off the side, as an odd job. I am a college freshman and have never held a job, other than a camp counselor/lifeguard at a cub-scout day camp. I came across your article.
I am already an artist but I want to paint windows for three reasons, 1: It would be fun. 2: Others can enjoy it. and 3: Extra Cash.
I know what paints to get, but I'm not sure how else to get started. Should I just walk into a store ask for the manager and ask him/her? Also what is a good price for beginer services? Thankyou for your help:) lil' R-tist
ps: please respond to this email: email@example.com (because I don't know if I can find this webpage again)
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on June 29, 2011:
@markomitic) Thank you and should try painting on windows. It's fun and you could start by practicing on your own windows! Let me know if you do!
markomitic from Toronto on June 28, 2011:
Interesting hub. I am an artist myself but never tried to paint on windows. Excellent info. Thank you.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on May 17, 2011:
Eric) This is definitely a "niche" market. You can make a good living painting windows. I am currently a newborn baby photographer, which I also love. I plan on coming out of "retirement" though this Christmas to paint some windows.
If all goes well, I may pick up a few accounts and paint a few days a month. Right now though I'm working on other creative pursuits.
Good luck and I'm glad to hear you are excited - it's a great profession!!
Eric on May 13, 2011:
I have been an artist for years. Starting with drawing comic book characters and graduating into oil paints. My jobs have been unfulfilling to say the least, mostly management type jobs until I recently rebelled, quit my management job on short notice and got into internet sales (SEO)...etc. Still unfulfilling. I took a phone call recently, from a man that did window splash painting....I tried to sell him a top ranking....but I was sold instead. On painting windows. This thread has been going for a while and I am wondering if it is feasible to make a decent living doing this full time? I'm so intrigued...theres almost no competition in my area that I can see.....bare windows everywhere. Do people still pay for this? Dorsi....why aren't you painting? I'm so pumped.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on April 22, 2011:
HI Daniel) Nice to "see" you and glad to hear you are out painting for Easter. I hope to be up and painting again this year - I miss it!!!
Daniel From Chicago on April 21, 2011:
Stopping by and saying hi to all the fellow artist. Just finished all the easter windows
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on March 17, 2011:
@Brian) Thanks for the tips and stopping by and reading. I love hearing from my fellow window painters!
Brian Walsh on March 12, 2011:
Hi, I'm a window-painter from Ireland. I've only ever worked inside and have found that artist's acrylics are generally fine - fairly cheap ones are fine, but not too cheap as they will be watery and transparent.
I use a whiteboard marker and just wipe it off with tissue as I go, using a thin brush for black outlines. (I used to use a permanent marker for the outlines but find the brush-line much more effective and versatile.)
The only problems I've had were in hot and humid places where the condensation makes the paint flake off, but having read this a fixative spray would probably solve it (don't quote me on that though!)
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 08, 2010:
Alma) Your very welcome
Alma on December 07, 2010:
Thank you for your advice Dorsi. It means a lot to me.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 06, 2010:
Alma) Thanks so much for coming by and reading. As the former owner of a sign franchise, here is my advice:
Invest in good permanent signage that represents your business everyday. Then paint your windows occasionally for holidays, special events and things like that. Window painting (at least the type I do) is more for temporary purposes.
Alma on December 05, 2010:
Hi! I have been searching for window art painting before, but this is the first time that I find something really helpful. I love this art. I decided to paint my house windows for the holidays. I'm using washable paint because I was afraid to ruin the windows. I'm painting in the inside & it's kind of complicated. I've been thinking to add something interestin in my business's window, so I thought to order some acrylic lettering signs. Now that I reed some comments I'm not sure abouth it. Can you please give an advise? Is it better the acrylic letters or paint it? Thank you for your time & congratulations for the great job you all do.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on December 04, 2010:
Jeanie) What a wonderful wealth of information in your comment. It's so good to see the "old-timers" like us sharing our tips and ideas. I just love it!! And I love seeing all this info passed to the newcomers. If we don't pass it along who will?
Thanks again for coming by and the wonderful comment.
and BTW, I am going to be trying out a new paint this year. (fluorescent) I believe it's called Day-glo?
jeannie on December 03, 2010:
Love this I started in Vancouver Canada in the 70s, stopped in the 80s,came back to it again recently but it led me to a love of classic lettering and signwriting. Its so free, the big sweep, pull from the elbow, the whole arm... I was taught to use poster paint and the expensive 'one-stroke' sable lettering brushes, #7 minimum, my fave is a #16. I bought my brushes with my first window moneys, from helping my teacher. Love those brushes; with poster paint and NEVER bending up the bristles by ever sitting in water jar, they last a long time. I still have my 'friends' from the old days.
We used liquid Ivory soap in the paint, just a few drops, if it was 'crawling', or not sticking. I dont often use it though. I haven't had trouble with cracking/crawling unless the glass is dirty. An auto garage where I used to do the bay windows, would have a film of grease on sometimes, so I got them to wash it for me beforehand! I dont paint thickly, just one stroke thickness. You can see through the paintings I do, it is kinda like stained glass, and designs have to be set up to work from both sides. I draw in black and outline everything in white. When I started we'd outline with spraycan 'snow', was nice and fast but I haven't seen any for a long time. Great tip about the bar soap on the outside for laying out! I have used a grease pencil or dabs of that blue painters masking tape. A 3' carpenters level is useful for lettering.
Ive had interior condensation almost kill a couple of windows. In our rare cold snaps locations with enough moisture inside--my garage when they hosed the floor down, and a restaurant, the paint started to run. Windows in drier locations were OK.
Recently I have found that 'kiddie' poster paints can be 'slimy' or dont have enough pigment to show, esp. the blacks. I have also had some that would not mix with other brands without curdling completely, yikes! There is a range of quality, one has to test them. Its my guess that sign-quality poster paint is getting rarer, anyone have any tips on what is good? I have some Rich Art 'fresco tempera paint poster colour' that is not too bad. 'Chroma'poster for a black is the best Ive found recently.
For those of you using acrylics, (and 'artist' acrylics are the wrong texture to work with sign brushes by the way), a tip is to always wet-then-wipe-off the brush with water before you start to work, so that the 'well' inside the ferrule is not dry when the paint first wicks up into it. If it is dry, some paint will always set up in there before you can wash it out, and the well will clog up faster. Ive used acrylic and latex house paint for signs but not on windows. I used one-shot oil on exterior windows once, beautiful, fine and dense paint but the brushwork has a big learning curve! Its pretty permanent paint IMHO. And yeah, pin-stripers definitely rock!
Thanks Dorsi for your charming characters, and to all, so happy that a new generation is 'climbing the ladder'!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 21, 2010:
Elyse)Good tip although it's time consuming if you have done large areas. Sometimes I paint the white, go onto the next business then come back to finish. Works well if you have another window to paint close-by. Thanks for coming by and the tip!
ElyseG on November 21, 2010:
Another tip would be to use a hair dryer to help the paint dry faster. Test out your new designs on your bathroom mirrors first!! That's how I got comfortable with it before starting.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 16, 2010:
donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on November 14, 2010:
Awesome Dorsi. That is so cool!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 13, 2010:
I am now taking appointments for this years Holiday season (2010) If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area email me and I will contact you about painting your Hoilday windows this Christmas season. Thanks and have a great day!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 10, 2010:
Yolanda) Hopefully someone in the Chicago area will read this and contact you about painting your windows. Good luck, I'm just about 3-4,000 miles too far away to help you out with this one!
Arely) I haven't heard about this type of acrylic but generally acrylic is a great paint to work with. I use common household paint with a white background. A flat razor scraper from Home Depot/Lowes or a window janitorial supply should work great for taking the paint off. Good luck!
Chris) Tempera should be fine for indoor use, it's a pain to clean though. Light water and a razor and lots of paper underneath or a tarp to catch the mess. Some painters remove themselves...most businesses remove it themselves though. (give them good instructions and they will love you for it)
chris on November 10, 2010:
what a wealth of info - - a friend asked me to consider painting the windows in her office space for the holidays (interior windows) Would tempera work? what above cleaning after the holidays? Do you the artist do that? Any info would help - I have been unemployed since oct 2009 and could use some extra $$$ - thanks to all
Arely on November 08, 2010:
I have always painted my own windows with tempera colors. But may be looking at this as a business soon. I wanted to start practicing and building a portfolio. My brother owns a store and I will probably ask him to help me out by letting paint his windows, after all what are big brothers for. I just wanted to make sure that I'm not going to ruin his windows. I'm looking at buying Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics. Is this okay. And how would you remove acrylic paint from the window. Thanks for your help.
Yolanda on November 02, 2010:
Hello, I'm looking for someone to paint storefront windows at my family's retail store in Lincoln Square, Chicago. Please contact me. 773-728-7243 Yolanda.
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on October 20, 2010:
Tamara)Thanks for stopping by. Get a widget razor blade or a bigger razor scraper from Home Depot,Lowes or a janitorial supply. It will come off faster. Spray it with water in a sprayer first and it loosens it up too.
Tamara on October 20, 2010:
Have to say it too, what a great site - Thanks everyone for the good info. I'm in Oregon (Rainy!) and now that I've read about housepaint on windows, I'm going to try that! When scraping it off, do you have to apply anything to it first or just go for it with a razor blade?
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on August 24, 2010:
TY Stacie) I love it!
Stacie L on August 24, 2010:
wow,just found this and I must say,you are a wonderful artist!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on June 10, 2010:
Dee) What a great idea using the soap as an outline! Thanks for stopping by and reading.
Dee on June 09, 2010:
When my family had a store, we had to paint on the inside of the windows. You get sideways rain in Oregon.
We opted for tempera paint. One tip, we would draw our design on the outside using bar soap, then wash the outline off. This made for a nice clean window to see the art. Cool hub!
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on May 26, 2010:
Thanks everyone for stopping by and making such valuable contributions to this hub. Painting on tinted windows and lexan is very tricky.Honestly, I try to avoid those windows at all costs. They are just not worth the headache. If you damage the windows what then? Food for thought- if you really want those jobs try painting on some removable vinyl then applying that to the window. That way it will peel off easily. Some painters in Cali do this technique with great success.
LaTejana on May 24, 2010:
How wonderful that you're sharing this valuable information! Thank you!
I was reading the post by "Daniel the artist from Chicago," and was interested to read the part about how important it is to make sure that the window(s) you're painting on are not tinted or non-glass! Excellent point! Since latex will definitely bond with plastic (acrylic, Lexan, etc.) I can see where trouble could occur.
I've been asked to bid on a job for a company that will have a summer theme that will be up for the entire summer season. The cost of ordering Window Paints by Rich Art will eat up everything I make on this job, but they seem to be great in that they wash off easily, yet are impervious to the rain.
Will Window Paints by Rich Art be okay to use on the windows if I find that they're film-tinted or made of Lexan? What about the 1-Shot, which are said to be oil based-- will that be okay? I'm unclear as to whether or not you can use anything at all on film-tinted windows, etc. other than tempera paints which wash off so easily...
If I find that the windows are glass and otherwise not tinted, can I use craft acrylic paints and expect them to hold up for 3 months in 100-degree summer heat? (We get very few rain showers in the summer here.)
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on May 21, 2010:
Frances) I'm sure I've probably seen your work out there...
and lucky you, to go paint in Hawaii! Won't that be FUN!!
Franis Engel on May 20, 2010:
Cool to see so many people interested in painting windows. Thought it was a lost art. I paint in Marin county during the holidays, and seem to be almost the only person doing it. Glad to hear you also are keeping this old-fashioned pastime alive!
I'm actually starting out again on the Big Island of Hawaii painting windows there too during the year...
Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on May 15, 2010:
Thanks Bonny. No Ebook yet, other projects in the works but definitely something I will be writing about.
Thanks for stopping by!
bonetta hartig from outback queensland on May 14, 2010:
terrific hub and some really helpful comments, love your work have you published your ebook yet, I live in australia, window painting isn't big here, but would love to see it take off. thank you for this insight into a fabulous arena. cheers bonny