Ideas: The Lost Art of Painting Christmas Windows

Christmas Window Painting

One of my "signature" characters I paint every year - a very merry and frosty snowman that has become a favorite for many. Christmas window painting by Dorsi Diaz in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of my "signature" characters I paint every year - a very merry and frosty snowman that has become a favorite for many. Christmas window painting by Dorsi Diaz in the San Francisco Bay Area. | Source

My Work After Several Years

I fine tuned my artwork to a point that I got incredibly fast at painting
I fine tuned my artwork to a point that I got incredibly fast at painting | Source

Christmas Painting on Windows

Snow People are one of my favorites. Christmas painting on glass is alot of fun and can be very lucrative.
Snow People are one of my favorites. Christmas painting on glass is a lot of fun and can be very lucrative. | Source

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 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.

More Christmas Painting: Every Year I Tried New Things

One of my customers, Play It Again Video, hired me to do Disney windows every year. Painting on windows was alot of fun.
One of my customers, Play It Again Video, hired me to do Disney windows every year. Painting on windows was a lot of fun. | Source

This Was A Favorite Window Painting One Year

This little reindeer captured my heart, all tangled up in lights. Christmas window painting by Dorsi.
This little reindeer captured my heart, all tangled up in lights. Christmas window painting by Dorsi. | Source

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Comments 158 comments

cjcs profile image

cjcs 8 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

That is great. Like you did, every year I say that I'm going to window paint, and I never do. I think it's that little-kid voice in my head that keeps telling me that I'm going to get into trouble :-)


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

I enjoyed reading this hub, and the glass work is bright and cheerful, brings a smile.

funnebone profile image

funnebone 8 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

Very cool...can you paint my windows to look like the back of my house so that when I am served with warrents they will just keep walking in circles?

Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

What a gift you have. These are great. My mother and grandmother are artists, but I never got the gene. Keep on doing what you do. Blessings!

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Great work and good photos of your art,craft,gift and a great sense of humour, all rolled into one visual package. The windows and your Hubs.

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Great story Dorsi. I painted faces on little pumpkins for Safeway one year after one of their clerks had seen the ones I'd painted for my nephew. They didn't pay me for them, though. But, it was fun.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks everybody for stopping by my hub- I actually haven't painted for about 5 years now - and this year I'm coming out of "retirement" to paint again- so it will be quite an adventure! I have missed the creative part of it- and the money was actually very good- if you can work fast and get the contracts you can get a lot of work out there.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Wow, you do great window painting Dorsi. If you were here, I would hire you to do ours. :) Esp. in our preschool.

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

That was brilliant, see you finally achieved what you had been trying to do for years. Like you say it must have been fate.  Its funny how we think about fate. If things good happen it makes it so much nicer.  Loved you pics.  Really enjoyed reading your article.  It gave me and should give others a lift and encourage them to go after what you really want to do.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks Eileen for the wonderful comment- I hope this does inspire someone to go after their dream- I believe it's there in all of us, sometimes we just have to slow down and listen to our heart to get direction.

I'm about to start painting again after a long break- it will be for more commercial purposes this time during the year, but when Christmas rolls around it's going to be for my artistic pleasure!

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marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Can you come paint my windows? I live at.... I wish, I love to paint, but, it keep putting off learning more about it to get really good.

What a talent!!

JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 8 years ago from Jaipur

nice hub.Pictures r excellent.


fantum 7 years ago

I do window painting. Travel from Key West to Ohio, WVA,Tenn, Georgia. Started back in 1990, had no ideal what I was doing. Started painting for Dennys. This is when I started to take off. Wendys came up afterwards. Painted 90 stores in 9 days traveled 3000 miles and never left Florida. Never in my life had I seen myself do a window splashing 7 color job with 18in. letters in 35 minutes. Never imagine I could paint 15 stores in one day. I listened to Bluegrass music the entire time. Had each stroke down to every beat of the banjo. People would ask me what kind of drugs I was taking. I would have the sign layed out and painted before the customers finished their eatings, or even getting up to the cash register to order. I would use 2 six foot ladders and a 20 foot plank. Set up this scaffold by myself, paint the sign. load up the ladders and plank, and be on my way in one hour. I was having the time of my life. Never imagined themoney I could make. I worked for an Aerial Sign Co in Hollywood Fl. I was drawing the banners and sometimes painting them. The banners were pulled in the air by airplanes. They were being shipped all over the US and other countries. I learned to layout a 20ft X 50ft sign in 45 minutes and have it painted in along with the layout in 3 hours. Now all I do is window painting, mural sometimes etc. Trained myself to visualize a 2in square piece of artwork to 1000 ft. I can not work with a grid. I can work with a scale drawing. Window Painting is a lost art. Hand lettering is going away also. It is getting kinda hard finding the materials now to work with. Nice job on the artworks.

Karen 7 years ago

What a relief to have found your hubpage! I have been going crazy for the last few months trying to figure out how to make some extra cash in window painting store fronts. Finances at home are getting desperate in this economy. I work at a daycare and I have been painting our inside doors and windows and many people have told me, I have the talent to make some money at this, but I have no idea where to begin. As I was reading your blog, I said "this is my dilemma!". I'm hoping you can help you, I can't "catch" the people who are painting windows so there is no one to answer my questions. For instance what kind of paints to use? Do you have to add anything to the paint for cold weather? How long does the design last? How much should I invest to get started? What kind of brushes to use? Do you add anything to make the paint flow smoother? etc......I have painted the inside of our daycare windows with tempera paints but I have experienced some "cracking and chipping of the paint" since the heat/humidity is now present. How do I stop this? My biggest fear is getting paid to do a business store front and then having them call me and say the paint is chipping off or worse, the rain washed it off! Can you help me Dorsi with these questions? I am desperate and would be so grateful for any advise.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks everyone who stopped by, sorry I have not had time to answer all of you individually, but I did want to respond here to Karen..... Karen, I would be happy to help you. I will be writing an e book about window painting later on but to get you started now,,,as yes making some extra money would be great and I am more then happy to help..... try NOT to use tempera paint, get some regular house paint (does not matter exterior or interior), and paint on the OUTSIDE of the glass if possible (much easier to take off) I use foam rollers from Lowes or Home Depot (the 3" and 6" for larger areas) Get some foam brushes with wood handles, and a couple little regular detail brushes (for eyes, etc.) Use some tarps ( I hate dripping paint on the front of someones store!) Christmas cards and coloring books are great places for ideas. I make my outline first in white, then come in and paint the color in, and do my shading last. Simple things to start out with are holly, bells, candles, happy holidays, snowmen, snow and trees. I would keep things simple to start, wait till later to do nativity scenes, reindeers, santas as those things can be time consuming ( unless you just have to try it!)

Peeling can be a problem but really more so with tempera... I have been through the school of hard knocks and yes going back to redo entire storefronts and it's not fun, so stick to acylics, and house paint........ and try to get some "theatrical black"paint for your black outlines- I use Cal West (there is a place called Mussons Theatrical in the Bay Area that has it- don't know about elsewhere though...)

Feel free to ask questions and let me know how things are turning out.......

Karen 7 years ago

Thank you so much Dorsi! Your suggestions answered so many of my questions. I am truly grateful for your help. I do have a few more questions, if you don't mind. How do I establish a price when approaching the store owners? For instance, if I just paint "Happy Holidays" with a few Holly's or bell's, what would be a basic price to ask? I know it would probably depend on how long it takes to do the design, but should I base it on say $15/hr, $25/hr? I realize as I get more experience and can do it faster, I will be able to see a better profit line but since you're the expert and have started out from scratch like me, may I ask what price you started off with?

Also, I read something about using "paint markers" for black outlines, is that the same as "theater black" paint?

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again for your great advise!

Karen 7 years ago

Hi Dorsi,

Well, I ventured out this past weekend to talk to some store owners. Only 1 out of 8 seemed a little receptive...somewhat discouraging as I just spent about $100.00 on painting supplies. I don't know if I am charging the wrong price, or if it's because this is a small town. I haven't seen any major seasonal designs in the past years. Besides the questions I asked in my previous post, I do have some more questions for you too, if you don't mind. The latex exterior house paints say not to apply below 50 degrees......well, I live in Illinois, and this time of the year, we're smiling if we can make it up to 40' ! Did you run into any problems with applying window paint in colder weather? Do you have to add anything to the paint?

I've been checking for your feedback everyday and I'm sorry to bother you but I could sure use your expert advise right now :)

Thanks so much! Hope you and your family had a Happy Thansksgiving.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Karen, I paint in California so weather has not usually been an issue, although there have been times I've painted in 40 degrees. The main thing I found was it just took a very long time to dry.

If I were painting in cold weather like that, I'd opt for doing a lot of blending so I would not have wait for the layers to dry ( I usually put a layer of white on first- but mainly when I'm doing very promotional windows with floursecent paint)

My advice? I don't know what you are charging but just to get your foot in the door do a few windows for $25- $35. Just very simple things like some happy holidays lettering, some trees, holly or bells. ( or a simple snowman) As soon as people start to see your work the word will spread, and you will get more windows. Don't forget to put your name and phone # on the windows when done so people can call you- and they will!

Karen 7 years ago

Thanks again Dorsi, you have been a HUGE help. Guess what? I landed a window painting job today for a local Ace Hardware storefront! I'm doing a snow scene with some trees, a snowman and Happy Holiday on their storefront. Since they have 2 medium size windows and a double door, I thru out a price of $65. I showed them some pictures of the doors and windows that I painted at my daycare and they loved them and I got the job. Whew-hew!! I'm so excited :) my first gig! Just in time for Christmas!

I couldn't of done it without you Dorsi...I can't thank you enough for all of your great advise. I'll send you some pics of my art work. Thanks teach!

toon 7 years ago

very nice work.. im trying to get started on this myself. You mentioned using tempra paint... is this what u still use now? I herd flat interior paint worked too but tempra sounds better. Im also curious if you use rollers for most large shapes and just brush for detail. Your advise would be greatly appreciated. tnx

toon 7 years ago

sorry u anwered my questions... I guess I should of read first....tnx 7 years ago

I have painted my own windows for many years and often thought about doing it for businesses at Christmas....Well, I just finished, not two hours ago, a friends nail shop....people came in "how cute," "Wow," and the business next door came in and said..."that's really nice....can you do mine? and how much do you charge?" Well, I showed a few pictures and got off the subject because I had NO idea how much to charge...suggestions? Certainly the size of the much fun....

how to increase vertical 7 years ago

Its a very useful hub for all the beginners and newbies.. Thanks for the pertinent info Keep it up!

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

Wow! These are just beautiful. I have no creative talents whatsoever, so I'm very envious of your talents here. The reindeer is cute.

Cathy 7 years ago

Hi there, I have a few questions about the house paint. How easy is this to get off and do the stores ask you to remove the artwork when the season is over. I went to a commercial art class and we learned to do windows with tempera and comet cleanser. I have done them off and on over the years and am thinking of starting up again to help with income. I have to admit the sound of house paint sounds "permanent" and I don't want to mess up a store owners window. I mixed my own colors of tempera out of primary colors, do you mix the house paint like that or buy small cans of it in colors, sounds kind of expensive to me. Thank you for your help on this and you have a great hub!

Karen 7 years ago

Cathy, can I ask you about the tempera and comet cleanser? What portions do you use and what does the cleanser do? I used exterior house paint for the Ace Hardware window storefronts. The paint comes off easily with a scraper blade without a problem. The store only asked how to take it off, once the season was over. I started out using the small sample paint jars available since there were only a few seasonal colors used around Christmas time. I also recently finished a 4 window job at a local restaurant..this is a blast!

Thanks again to Dorsi for all of your great advise!

Cathy 7 years ago

Hi Karen, I was taught to put comet cleanser into my tempera paint by my commercial art teacher back in the 70's. He said this helps remove the paint easier. We use to cheat and just put a little in because if you put a lot in it thins out the paint, I don't like it to be transparant looking. I can't give you an exact amount, its like cooking for me, alittle of this and that till the consistansy is good. I have been looking around at some of the work in my area and it all looks to be tempera, some very good work out there!

I've missed out on the Christmas season, but plan on trying for Valentines windows, got some of my supplies today. I was going to experiment on some glass around here with the house paint and slip some comet in it to see if it would come off any easier. I just don't want to get a customer upset about the house paint, I like repeat customers year round and have made some great contacts with my day job (can't afford to mess that up either!).

Thanks for the question karen and it sounds like you are off and running! Go for it!


Karen 7 years ago

Thanks Cathy for the comet advise. I'm still leary about using tempera paints outdoors as I know they can wash off easily with water. But I will try a test window to see what the comet does. Our "zero" degree weather has put a damper on things right now, but I did manage to get 4 jobs before xmas. I also plan on trying for some Valentine's window's. Good luck to you too!

Thank you Dorsi for sharing your hub to get some great advise. How are you doing? Did you start up window painting again?


Daniel The artist in chicago 7 years ago

Hellow to my fellow artist, this was my 25th year painting on the windows thru out the northern illinois and western suburbs. I can paint an entire snow scene, snowman etc in under 5 minutes. You just learn over the years all the tricks and the main thing , There's not even 1 drop of paint that spilled while you paint. I came up with special trays. bye for now , keep painting Dan

Daniel The artist in chicago 7 years ago

Oh, by the way, I painted in 6 degrees above zero this year. I use the poster art oil base one shot paint. This will not stain the building when the elements start to rain etc. You don't want to paint on a customers building and then have it run over all the brick etc. If anyone has any questions. please ask I think that I can help my fellow artist out their thru out the United States. Thanks Daniel

pupufcu profile image

pupufcu 7 years ago from Romania

I am happy to see your work, very interesting! I am doing almost the same but on walls...don't know exactly where it will bring me but i am happy with it!

Daniel The artist in chicago 7 years ago

Hi Pupufcu, where are you located? state, etc. I can show you a lot of cool new stuff. I am also putting glitter in my paint so the snow flakes looks real. I have flutes in plastic trays with the use of poly brushes. You would dry paint the snow flake effects. These flakes look real. I have a classic style that the customer base loves. I started to paint snowman playing the electric guitar with the amp ,cords ,etc. I have snowman drinking a glass of wine for a winery store front. I painted 318 stores this year and have 4 employees helping me. I also am a professional caricature artist, There are 27 professional in Chicago land area. I learn everyday and I donate and spend a lot of time with the community. I have career days coming up for the high schools. I taught airbrush at Harper College for 2 terms. I had to give it up because I had 57 McDonald's on a quarterly basis. Talk to you soon , Daniel

Karen 7 years ago

Wow Daniel! You are a busy man! I live near Braidwood, IL, so, of I-80 and I would sure appreciate some advise, especially painting in this cold weather and how to land those contract jobs! I am a newbie to window painting. Do you have a website or email that we can correspond? Thanks! Karen

Daniel The artist in chicago 7 years ago

Hi Karen, glad to see another artist hitting the streets. Yes its cold. very cold the next weeks. I worked all day this past saturday. I was painting valentine hearts on the windows . The pizza places are marketing heart shaped pizzas for valentine day. With the recession all around us. Its our job as artist to help these customers out, representing their new products or specials. To get new customers in their stores. This will be a great year for marketing. If you or anybody has any questions.

Please email

Val 7 years ago

Daniel I hope you don't mind me emailing you but I could use some advice. I also paint windows. I use tempera paint on the inside. So I paint backwards to let it show threw to the other side. I used to use a powdered paint but they went out of bus. ever since that I have been having trouble with the paint peeling off. When you use acrylic what brand do you use? Also do you layer the house paint ? Ive heard of outdoor window painters putting white house paint or primer down first and then acrylic on top. Oh by the way I live in Sycamore IL. Thanks Val

Janet 7 years ago


I am in Sugar Grove, Illinois, and am just getting started in window painting. Is it more desirable to do the windows from the inside or from the outside? Is it better to use tempora, poster, or latex house paint? I've been using acrylics from the inside, but believe the outside would be a lot easier. Thanks. Janet

Janet 7 years ago


Does the paint stay well on the outside of the windows, and how do you remove it later? Also, if you make a mistake, can you easily wipe it off? Are there any special markers used for outlining? Thanks - your pictures are beautiful! Janet

eaasi3574 7 years ago

Great post.

Daniel The artist from chicago 7 years ago

Janet, You have to use 1-shot paint for the outside of the windows. The problem with tempora or poster, latex, if it starts to rain the paint would run all over your customers building and also can stain the walls, concrete,etc. Another problem that I would like to bring up. When all the highschools paint their local towns, st. charles example. I had 10 complaints from the customers that had to rent a power sprayer to get all the paint off the building. When the window washer gets their art off the windows it comes off bubbly stainted water. The 1 shot paint comes off like a power because it is oil base. Since you are starting out, I also would also let all my fellow sign/artist out their, You have to check the windows from your new customers before you paint on them, You have to check to see if there is any type of tint or plexi glass. You can't remove or scrap the paint off these surfaces. You can check each window on the outside by taking a razor blade at the very bottom and push some pressure to see if their in any type of tint. I painted a McDonalds 1 time by the drive up window and the customer had put some tint on the outside of the window. The 3 x 3 window cost me $300.00. Be careful, you could get burned if you did all the windows on entire building that has tint on the outside. Some Restaurtants have the tint on the outside of the windows because they built the building walls around the boilers and stoves. It was easier to put the tint on the outside of the windows. Happy Painting to all. Their is a market out their.Dan

cindy 7 years ago


I've been painting windows for 31 years, I live in Colorado so I've put up with all kinds of weather, for me it is also 1 shot all the way. I started using it on cars, it is what the pros use for pinstriping!

I raised 2 kids on window painting as my only work. What a great life I have had! Every day is a different painting, a different client!!

I love it, check out my website and my blog

happy painting


Janet21 profile image

Janet21 7 years ago from New York

I love the Beauty and the Beast window painting. You are very talented! I wish I had an ounce of artistic abilitiy. Oh well. ;)

kauw 6 years ago


Thank you for the site and the information. I just finished my 1st store-front window. The owner wanted a Harvest scene (and not a Halloween one), I was able to do that and that was not an issue. The problem was that the store-owner was renting his building and he was really paranoid about using paint that would be hard to remove and he did not want me to use the exterior paint. So I opted to go with the Tempora paint. This was the 1st window I had ever done, so I had to learn quickly what and what not to do about painting on glass (I still have some small issues with painting on glass) and everything was fine, until the pumpkins began to flake off. I did some more research and could not find a lot of information on how to stop it from happening. So I was called back on the 2nd day to fix it. When I got there all the orange paint had came off. So this time I thought I would put down a base of white, and this too started to flake off. I talked to a friend of mine that night and he suggested to me to try and use a can of hair-spay. On the 3rd day of fixing the pumpkins, I did not know if I should try to mend them or take them all the way off (for the 2nd time) and start all over this time with a base of hair-spay or to try to repair the orange paint (by the way only the orange was flaking off). I tried both. The hair-spay was able to mat together the Tempora breaks and let me paint over them. Also on the one pumpkin, it was almost all the way off and I took it all the way off started it over with a base of hair-spray. This is working it’s been holding for 4 days now. Also I was using small brushes under 1 inch, and it shows a lot of brush strokes, I was wondering how to make it more flowing. Single brush-stokes seem to work better but are harder to do. Also my colors are not as stand-outish as yours, they are faint, but if I put more coats on I was afraid it would start flaking again. Any advice would be great. I did take pictures of it, and I can send you one via email, its not perfect but it was my 1st one. I hope to get some advice to make it better next time (the owner wants me to do 2 windows with a winter/Christmas scene at the end of November).


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tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

How nice!Great story and inspiring!Thanks for sharing.

quirky_girl 6 years ago

I've always loved to draw and paint. it gives me a chance to be spontaneous. (did i spell that right?) My sister told me the other day that I should get my parents to let me paint our windows. I think I might look into window painting as a job when I get of working age.

Ron Davis 6 years ago

Hi there my name is Ron Davis and i have been a proffessional window artist for 21 years now i have self tought my art to my self and have brought many holiday cheers to a lot of children and adults. I live in Munce where this window art has survived for over 100 years and i have carried it on for 21 years now. My web site to where you can see my art is


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thank you everyone that has come by to read about painting art on windows. I wish I could address all the questions raised here but my time is so limited right now. What I have decided to do however is produce an e book on how to paint windows step by step for those that are interested. Please email your address to me so I can get in touch with you next year. Good luck to all of you holiday painters and up and coming artists! And BTW, I am probably coming out of retirement to paint a few windows in the SF Bay Area this Christmas so I'll be sure to let you know how it goes....the only thing that's holding me back right now is the cold weather...brrr...makes the paint take forever to dry!

msmollie 6 years ago

hey Dorsi...i just ordered some rich art brand paint and i'm am reading on the net that it's hard to remove..what is the best paint to use for "outside" on windows? I want to use good paint and some people say they use tempera and some don't..i am confused as to what to! me please have several windows to paint and i am thinkingof sending this paint back....

Tasita 6 years ago

Wow, I was blown away by this blog/Hub..I always wanted to be a window painter since I was a kid in Germany and the artist would come around in the holidays and offere to paint our windows..Iwas just telling my grandaughter about this and suggested she do it for additional money during the holidays, she is a talented artist and has been taking lessons also for a year. I wanto do this also.She is starting with my windows at home, then her parents, we are going to put together a book of her paintings , I made little business cards for her etc. Somewhere is my 60 plus years, I keep thinking they used dish soaap in the tempra paint. I don't know for sure, but this keeps sticking in my mind. Saw the note about comet cleanser, close but I keep leaning towards soap. Has anybody tried this? They definitely used Tempra paint. They painted from inside and their was no chipping, flakying, peeling etc.. We need to ask a person who is around my age who did this for a living.I sm leery of using house paint or acrylics etc. I am srating my grandaughter off with my windows..I have purchased everything, we are nailing out the designs and I am down to this final thing.Any comments?

Jorge  6 years ago

I just started to experiment with window paints, and for the first time I did three in my own house using tempera paints. I also recently read that one can also use a 'floating medium' with acrylic paints(which makes the paint easier to work with, according to the article)and was wandering if that medium can also be used with tempera paints.

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Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Every Christmas, art students from the local high school paint windows in local shops. All 3 of my sons have been a part of that project and we loved seeing their work on the windows. Getting paid to do it! Wow!

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KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

I loved this hub. You have a great writing style and your pictures are bright and cheery. Great hub. Thanks.

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

I truly appreciate all of you who have stopped by, read and made comments about window painting. Please forgive that I cannot respond to all comments. I do plan to write an e-book in the future including some video tutorials for basic designs for painting on glass. Thanks everybody and I respond to comments as much as possible!!

Valerie 6 years ago

Hi Everyone,

I have been window painting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for about 10 years now. It gets very cold here but i paint on the insides of the windows using Tempera paint. First I draw on the picture with a 'Pilot' black felt pen, then I outline the whole picture in white (otherwise the picture seems to fade into the background)next I paint any white that the picture needs then my color (if you don't paint the white first you muddy your paints) The picture you draw is not backwards but the lettering is, thankfully paper is see through when you are learning and you can see how to do it backwards.

Now in the warmer months sometimes i paint outside. Most of the time you do need a white base coat...and you do NOT use Tempera paint outside will wash off. I still paint all my white first after i have drawn it on with my pilot paint, and i still outline it in white. I use latex or acrylic either interior or exterior paint. You can use a clearcoat outside that would probably help it not to peel although i have never used it yet.

I usually charge $100 per window panel on a window that is around 4 to 6 feet wide and 5 to 8 feet high. I may charge more it there is lots of lettering rather than just drawing.

I loved reading all your comments and questions and hope i have helped out some.

You can see my work on my website:


Good Luck Everyone:)

Gary 6 years ago

Thank you everyone for putting such great information on this site! I am meeting with a client tomorrow for the first time to talk about painting three of their storefront windows. I live in Portland, Oregon and I have been trying to make ends meet. This is a welcome break, I think that there is a market out there for this.

I noticed that putting your name and phone number on the window gets you more jobs. Anything else to think about? Starting out should I maybe charge $25-35 per window? I saw that at No Limit Art, the charge could be $100 for a large window with lettering. I am excited to start a career at this, sounds incredibly fun! I will post back here when my art is complete for any constructive criticism, and to my website:

Thanks everyone for the great information, couldn't have started without it.

Chicago Artist Dan 6 years ago

Guys, Easter is around the corner..Start painting...

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Yup everybody, time to get your bunny ears on and your paint brushes ready. Spring time is a GREAT TIME to paint windows!

Chris 6 years ago

I am beginning a project of painting two 3-pane windows at a salon and boutique. I work there, but my love is art. I need to paint on the outside of the windows, because they are very darkly tinted and don't draw much attention from the many cars that drive by. The sign outside is too busy and doesn't tell much about what is inside. To test the paint I painted the word 'Salon' in white acrylic, but after one rainstorm, it is cracking and peeling. It looked great, and drew a lot of attention, so we know this is the route we want to go. I need to know what paint to use and if I need to prep the window in any way. Also, do I need to use a fixative as well. Please help, as this may be the beginning of a new late-life career for me. I can't wait to start painting for the different seasons.

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Chris) Tinted windows sometimes have a film on them that make it difficult to paint on. Try using some window prep by Jaz, it's grey and just follow the instructions on it. This might make it stick. You can also try flat exterior paint and see if that works better. There are other ways to get around this too. Good luck in your new venture!

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bonny2010 6 years ago from outback queensland

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

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks Bonny. No Ebook yet, other projects in the works but definitely something I will be writing about.

Thanks for stopping by!

Franis Engel 6 years ago

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...

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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!!

LaTejana 6 years ago

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 profile image

Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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.

Dee 6 years ago

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!

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Dee) What a great idea using the soap as an outline! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

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Stacie L 6 years ago

wow,just found this and I must say,you are a wonderful artist!

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

TY Stacie) I love it!

Tamara 6 years ago

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?

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Dorsi 6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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.

Yolanda 5 years ago

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.

Arely 5 years ago

Hello there,

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.


chris  5 years ago

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

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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)

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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!

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donnaleemason 5 years ago from North Dakota, USA

Awesome Dorsi. That is so cool!

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks Donna

ElyseG 5 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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!

jeannie 5 years ago

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 profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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?

Alma 5 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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 5 years ago

Thank you for your advice Dorsi. It means a lot to me.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Alma) Your very welcome

Brian Walsh 5 years ago

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!)

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Brian) Thanks for the tips and stopping by and reading. I love hearing from my fellow window painters!

Daniel From Chicago 5 years ago

Stopping by and saying hi to all the fellow artist. Just finished all the easter windows

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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!!!

Eric 5 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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!!

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markomitic 5 years ago from Toronto

Interesting hub. I am an artist myself but never tried to paint on windows. Excellent info. Thank you.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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!

lil' R-tist 5 years ago

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: (because I don't know if I can find this webpage again)

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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...

Kent Moss 5 years ago

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.

Thank U,

Kent Moss

413 596.9700

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

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!

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

rikkie 5 years ago

love this site

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thank you rikkie! Glad you like it.

Florence 5 years ago

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

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Florence) Try using white as a base. You can also use ordinary house paint.

Barbara 5 years ago

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.

malea 5 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

fergusons 4 years ago from placerville california

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

jeannie 4 years ago

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.

jeannie 4 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Kim 4 years ago

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.

Gina Ellen profile image

Gina Ellen 4 years ago from Ireland

Hey everyone!

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!

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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@

Laurie 4 years ago

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?

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country

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 profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Clarice 4 years ago

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.

Christina 4 years ago

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!

sandi ferguson 4 years ago

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?

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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 4 years ago


Clarice 4 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

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.

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mailxpress 4 years ago from New York

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.

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Kim 4 years ago

Hi Dorsi,

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.

Tracy Ann Hampton profile image

Tracy Ann Hampton 4 years ago

Hi there,

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!

Claire Nicole 4 years ago

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!

Jen from CO 4 years ago

Hi everyone,

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! :)

Tracy Ann Hampton profile image

Tracy Ann Hampton 4 years ago

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!



Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Shelly 4 years ago

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~

sandi 4 years ago


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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 4 years ago

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 profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

alexander greatness 4 years ago

okay I do window painting too.

Window Painting 4 years ago

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

gloria 4 years ago

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?

Leah 4 years ago

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! (:

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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!

Laura 4 years ago

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?

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Laura) Try painting with something a little more durable like exterior gloss house paint. White background first and it should last quite a while.

Kathy 4 years ago

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.

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Kathy) A big razor blade - 6" or more - you can get them at janitorial supply stores.

Chicago / Wisconsin Artist Daniel 4 years ago

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...

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Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Hey Daniel) That's awesome. Nice to "see" you again! What states are you painting in?

Jac 4 years ago

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.

Jules 4 years ago

Hi Dorsi,

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?


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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 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.

INGA 3 years ago

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!

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Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

Mike 3 years ago

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.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

This was a great story, Dorsi, and as always, I am amazed by your talent.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@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.

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mollymeadows 2 years ago from The Shire

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.

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Dorsi 2 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Mary) Gosh I just saw this comment. I need go in and check my settings! Thanks for dropping by!

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coolschool 21 months ago

that is so cool.i have not seen that befor

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