Saturday, November 28, 2009

Window Painting Tips

Originally posted on facebook

Window painting tips

November 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm
*I may add to this as I think of things*

It's best to have clean glass. I have painted over the occasional corner cobweb and dust, but it's nicer w/out crud.

For inside windows (or weather-protected outside) I use tempera paint. NOT the powdered mix-it-up-yourself kind. Most art supply stores should carry some brand.

The bare minimum colors you should have:

  • White
  • Black
  • Brown (you can make brown w/ red, blue, and yellow, but it doesn't always turn out as nicely)
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green (it's fairly easy to make a nice green w/ blue and yellow, but this is a color you'll use a lot at Christmastime)
  • Yellow

Colors that are nice to buy already made, but not necessary:

  • Purple
  • Orange
  • Flesh

Colors I typically make by mixing one or more colors together:

  • various shades of browns and tans (Brown w/ white, black, & or yellow)
  • various shades of blue (blue w/ white or black)
  • various shades of green (green w/ more blue or yellow, white or black)
  • pink
  • flesh (usually white w/ a bit of brown and a drop of red to pinken it up)
  • reds (brown, black)

Color mixing is lots of fun. If you only need a little bit, you can mix in one of the paint bottle lids. If you do this long enough, you'll eventually have empty (or nearly empty) bottles and you can turn those into new colors. I've been saving plastic peanut butter containers b/c they are easy to hold, wide opening for mixing and dipping the brush into (you have to use the lid of the bottles once the level gets down a bit), but any small plastic container will work. I bought some of the Ziploc plastic containers, and they work okay, but aren't airtight, so the paint dried out from one year to the next, and after 2 years, it's kind of brittle, so beware of cheap stuff!

For painting outside, you can buy special sign painters paint which is waterproof once it's dry. Nice colors, coverage, and texture, but is more expensive than tempera. Also, it's the same basic composition (latex acrylic) as house paint, so that is what I've started buying, at least for the high-use colors (white, blue, green) because it's so much cheaper! I just bought red today, but it doesn't cover as well. The major drawback to using this kind of paint is that it doesn't wash off with just water. It needs to be scraped off the windows.

What to paint? Choose a picture/drawing of something you feel comfortable drawing. You can get ideas from greeting cards, wrapping paper, internet, coloring books, etc. The easiest way to do this is to use a black permanent marker and draw the outline, so it looks like a coloring book. Then fill it in.

(added Nov 2010) When filling in the spaces, it's important to make the strokes smooth and go from one side of the space to the other.  As long as the paint is wet (but it does dry quickly), it's fairly easy to go back over it to make it look nice.  You can also use different strokes to add "texture" to a section.  For instance, if you want a fluffy lamb, start at the bottom of the section and make swirly strokes kind of in rows, making the one above it go over it slightly.  (If you start at the top, it will look like the lamb is standing on a vent!)  Same for straw or pine needles - make short straight strokes starting at the outer edge, and move back in and go just over where you started the previous strokes, and then the last ones would be butted against a line.

Once it's all painted, I then go back over all the black lines w/ black paint. THEN I go around the outside of the whole picture with white. The white really makes it stand out (sort of like a vinyl cling), especially at night.

The typical pointy ended brushes are necessary for lines and filling in small places and you may find you like them for other things, too. I have two different sizes. Don't get these too floppy, though (like water color brushes) or you won't have much control.

My favorite brush is a fan brush. They cover really well, or can be used to cover very lightly with just a hint of paint on the edge. I have a couple sizes of this style, too. These should be almost stiff.

I also have the square end/edge kind in a couple sizes. I use these a lot for some types of lettering, especially larger words. Sometimes I will use one of these to put on the final white around the picture.

I will try to take step-by-step pictures of my next window and I will add them here for reference. If you have any questions at all, please ask!

This is a fun activity for the children, too, even the very young ones. Just make sure they're either naked or wearing painting clothes! :D I usually draw the picture (their choice), let them color it in, and then I will go back over the lines and occasionally scrape off the excess that make it outside the borders. And always take a picture!

Oh, and clean up. What works best for me is to spray the painting w/ water, use a large scraper/razor blade in an upward motion, and wipe the paint onto paper towels after every swipe. Once all (or most) of the paint is gone, clean windows as you normally would.

"Pointy" brushes.  Great for small spaces, lettering, and lines.

Fan brushes. My favorites.
"Square" brushes. Some lines, lettering, filling in some spaces.
Tempera paints
The picture drawn on the window with a permanent marker. I go ahead and fill in the small black spaces b/c it's easier to simply paint over them with the other color rather than paint around them. I go back over them w/ black paint at the end.
The chosen picture for the window painting.

The painting nearly complete. I put a light blue for shading in the snow, but you can skip that if you choose.
The painting complete, on the inside (where I painted it).

The completed painting from the outside. The roll-up blinds were removed after I took the photo so now the top is visible as well.

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