So, You Want to Paint Holiday Windows?
How to Make Temporary Window Designs With Washable Paint
If you have ever thought about painting beautiful art on windows, this is the how-to guide you've been looking for. Painting holiday windows has been a hobby of mine for many, many years.
These painting techniques are the trade secrets I have developed over 30 years as a successful holiday artist and window painter. Colorful window dressings are especially popular around Christmas and I have a lot of fun creating them. So can you.
Learn how to paint your own windows at home with this easy-to-follow art tutorial. Using Tempera, a washable watercolor paint, you can create traditional images or designs of your own.
These painting techniques can be applied to the inside or outside of window glass for any holiday or special occasion. Discover which art supplies and tools are used. With these tips and tricks, you will be painting your holiday windows and be the envy of your neighbors!
My favorite paint medium is the Student-Grade Tempera by Blick Art. Yes, it is poster paint, but it is a special mixture. I have used Tempera since 1978 and it works well for me in the dry, desert climate of Southern Nevada. I have found it to be the best paint for my holiday paintings. All of the designs on this page are painted with it.
Add to your primary color pallet with a set of fluorescent paints. These vivid colors pop off the window when used as fill or highlights. A little goes a long way with these beautiful neon colors, so use sparingly!
How Durable Is Tempera?
Tempera is a watercolor paint and it is very durable for painting window art. It will last a long time if it is not exposed to direct rain or a water source and is not applied too thick.
This singing snowman is painted on the lower part of a door frame. If I don't remove it, the snowman will remain bright and colorful for many months or even years. The images do get scratched here and there by people bumping into them, but overall they last a very long time. Direct sunlight will fade colorful pigments over time but your image will stay bright for the season.
Load your initial holiday Tempera paint kit with Christmas decoration colors: white, green, and red. This will get you on your way to decorating for the holidays. Add black, blue, and yellow for outlines and highlighting. These are enough colors to get you started painting basic images.
Tempera keeps for the long term. Store it just like a food product, at temperatures between 50 and 70˚F, it will last for a couple of years. Unless, of course, you use it all!
The brushes used for window painting are soft with bristles that leave fine strokes. Window painters use a variety of paintbrushes in their set of tools. These are my personal set of brushes and you can see I have had some of them a long time. They have held up well because I take care not to leave them with paint in the bristles and clean them out when I am finished with a project.
Recommended Artists Brushes:
- 1 large lettering quill
- 1 medium lettering quill
- 1 fine pin striping brush
- 1 fan brush
- 3 2-inch common paint brushes
- 2 2-inch sable brushes for filling in color
Always wash out your artist's brushes as soon as you are done painting with them. This prevents the colors from bleeding together. Designate one brush only for white paint and you will always have the bright white you need for Santa's beard! Your brush sets are an investment so care for them wisely. With the right care, you will use these paintbrushes for years!
The centerpiece of every holiday window scene is its greeting. The lettering in your design will be the focal point of your painting. Cursive and plain-text fonts are fun to create, but a little challenging. Decorate the plain text with holiday-related images and sparkles! Cursive lettering is pretty all on its own.
What Is Your Favorite Holiday Greeting?
The best part of painting windows for the holiday is the cheer you can share with the folks that stop to talk to you or comment on your work. The kids will love to watch you paint and they will want to help! People of all sorts will stop to chat.
You can be politically correct and generic in your window greetings with just "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." There are some shop owners that will want you to blatantly paint, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" across the storefront.
It's your art, test it out!
Wait! Before you paint, prime your surface! Washing windows is part of the routine. Your paint will adhere better if the window is free of dust, dirt, and oils.
Window washing can be fun if you approach it the way Tool Girl does when she demonstrates her professional window washing techniques.
Use a couple of drops of dishwashing soap in the wash bucket. Windows come out sparkling clean and ready for paint!
How to Wash Windows Like a Pro
How to Paint a Snowman
Now that you know which supplies you need, it will be easy to begin painting an image. We will start with a snowman. Before you paint you need to draw the image out so you have an outline to work in.
- Draw the design's basic shapes. A snowman needs three stacked circles for the body and head.
- Draw the hat with a rectangle for the body and a thick line for the brim. Don't forget to draw a line for the hat band.
- Draw lines for the scarf and arms. You can use black sticks like the image or snowy arms with mittens.
- From here you can get your paint ready for filling in the colors. You will need white (lots of it!), black, red, and green.
- Now you have the outlines completed for the image. This whimsical figure can be completed quickly if you follow the window painting instructions below.
- The body and hat of the snowman was applied with a wide paint brush. The scarf was done with about a lettering quill. The details can be applied with a liner or a pin striping brush.
- Practice painting with Tempera until you get the feel of the paint. It may take a couple of coats to get an image solid so expect it.
Snowman Painting Instructions:
- Start painting with a base coat then add layers of paint for the details. Fill in the largest area with the base color. A snowman needs white paint for the first layer.
- Fill in the secondary base color. Apply the scarf color (whatever color you want to use!) Paint the snowman's hat.
- Detail the snowman. Put in the eyes, nose, and so on.
- Outline the white areas in blue or black and the darker areas in white.
Snowman are relatively easy images, but when you decide Santa is the theme, do note that these paintings will take you a few hours to complete.
I like to paint silhouettes or cartoon images of Santa Claus, as I have trouble with faces and humans. I like to do landscapes. A tree doesn't have any facial features to mess up!
Santa does more than deliver gifts at Christmas. He can be found almost anywhere. Paint him diving down the chimney, riding a motorcycle, or lounging at the beach. His activity is only limited by your imagination. I have even painted his sled team delivering pizza! He is a very versatile subject.
If we are going to paint Santa Claus, we must not forget his faithful team: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. How about Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen?
Develop a good reindeer image and crown your scene with dear ol' Rudolph! Reindeer are the most featured animals in Christmas art themes. With decorations of sleigh bells and sled harnesses, they can be painted pulling Santa's sled or they can be a solo feature in a window design. Paint a reindeer portrait with holly leaves nestled in their horns. Their big, watery, laughing eyes and soft, fuzzy faces are a neat accent to a side window next to a greeting center piece.
Wreaths are a staple Holiday decorating design. They can be painted in leaf form, with pine needle texture, or even a using stippling brush effect. They don't always have to be green either! They are ideal for trimming doors or awkwardly spaced windows, decorated with pretty bows, pine cones, toys, or candy. Wreaths are fun to paint!
Wreaths can accent large windows and be shaped in different ways. My wreath design this year was a heart-shaped image. Showcase your Christmas tree by painting a wreath frame on your picture window. Leave your drapes parted and enjoy the lights dancing on the wreath as well as the tree itself!
Thank You for Visiting!
I am so glad you stopped by. Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and Merry Christmas!
© 2012 Maria Burgess