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A Day In The Life Of A Holiday Window Painter

Updated on October 18, 2014
MBurgess profile image

I have gleefully painted windows for a couple of decades. Learn about my technique and decorate your windows this holiday season!

How I Started Painting Window Art

The story of how I started painting window art began in a tailoring shop in 1978. I refer to it as being one of Santa's Elves. Yeah, I am the one with the paint brushes!

Ms. Norma is the lady who gave me the backing I needed to pursue this unique hobby. I have been painting window art ever since. The time I spend with my paintbrushes and paints is gratifying and fun. When I am designing my funny window images, I am in a different world. My friends and family have encouraged me to keep painting and my clients come up with some of the oddest requests at times. One lady had me paint her pets in holiday theme on her windows.

Ms. Norma has been laid to rest many years but her impact on my life has carried on for 3 decades now. She was my mother's boss at a tailoring shop near my junior high school.

This is the story of how I became a window painting artist.

Image Credits: M Burgess unless otherwise indicated

Santa's Little Helpers - Window Art

Santa's Little Helpers - Window Art
Santa's Little Helpers - Window Art | Source

My Art Started By Drawing Horses

& Making Quilt Patterns

My creativity was well nurtured at home. We are a crafty bunch and one of the first things I remember drawing were horses. My aunt gave me this very book on how to draw horses and I used it continually. It led to many drawing projects. One of my favorites was helping my granny create quilt tops. I would draw out the image she wanted on a piece of butcher paper or newsprint and she would use it for her patterns. She would lay the fabric for the quilt top over the drawing and trace the image onto the material.

I have always loved the Christmas designs and my early sketches were candles and pine needles, holly leaves. So, when the idea for painting window art was suggested to me it fit right in with what I already loved to express in my artwork.

Christmas Candle Design 2010

Christmas Candle Design 2010
Christmas Candle Design 2010 | Source

What Does A Red Satin Robe

Have To Do With Painting Christmas Windows?

The tailoring shop my Mother worked at when I was in middle school was across the street from the junior high I attended. I would stop by when class let out and wait for my mother to finish her day. Ms. Norma was her boss, a tiny woman with quick wit. She was a brilliant tailor and owned this business. I helped out when I could and kept busy until it was time for Mom to go home. The shop had a big scrap box and a couple of open machines so I used to spend time crafting things from leftover material.

I found a piece of red satin one day and decided I wanted to make my own short-sleeved short robe out of it and as I started to draw out the pattern, Ms. Norma saw what I was doing and said to me, "You can draw? You are going to paint my windows for Christmas!" She handed me $20 and off I went to the craft store to buy paint. I painted Merry Christmas and a teddy bear for my first design that year. It will always be one of my favorite memories from growing up!

She has no idea how much this little project change my life! From there I went on to paint hundreds of windows and it helped me share my love for holiday art and images. All this I owe to a tailor and a red satin robe!

Teddy Bear In Christmas Stocking

Teddy Bear In Christmas Stocking
Teddy Bear In Christmas Stocking | Source

Merry Christmas - Holiday Window Lettering

Merry Christmas - Holiday Window Lettering
Merry Christmas - Holiday Window Lettering | Source

Lettering Books - Freehand Art Books

Lettering is one of the central features of holiday paintings. If you have seen these wonderful decorations at holiday time and would love to pursue this hobby on your own you may want to get some reference manuals to help you along. I have learned to paint freehand through trial and error and many years of experience. If you want to do something well you must practice.

One of the best things you can do to help your window art early is learn to do lettering. It is the most difficult stage of the paintings for me. I am ever striving to come up with better lettering each year. These manuals are excellent sources.

Window Art Supplies - Tempera & Acrylic For Painting Windows

The elements of basic art drawings and paintings are what makes up the skill set needed to paint windows with holiday art. From creating a unique design to sketching it out on a window to filling in the final colors and accents, window painting is a very unique expression. Work on images that involve drawing holiday figures and foliage. Symbols and animals may be included in your window designs now and then, too. Lettering is always a large part of window painting. Greetings across the front of the window will need to be carefully arranged and tastefully decorated to compliment your over all design.

Although I have used Tempera Paints successfully for many, many years in Las Vegas, acrylic paint is a preferred medium for some window artists. It is ideal if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain or is a humid region. Acrylic will fight the moisture and stick better than tempera in these temperate zones.

Bob Ross Remixed - Bob's Paintings Are Beautiful and He Is a Wonderful Tutor!

I ran across this video not too long ago and I really enjoyed this tribute. Bob is my very favorite teacher and I learned a lot from his painting shows. He inspired several of my designs and themes throughout the years and to this day I still enjoy his videos.

Art Supplies & Drawing Books - Instructions for Art From Bob Ross

When you want to draw it is helpful to have reference guides and the right materials and supplies. Keep your sketches and drawings in a bound book so you can track your progress and go back to early designs and improve on them.

Bob Ross and another painter on PBS were very influential in my learning how to paint beyond the coloring book style that is common in window painting. With their instructions I was able to include interesting features into my designs. Taking time to paint is a comfort and it is a relaxing hobby. If you have the right instructions you will do well. Don't give up! Painting and drawing take time to develop good skills. It is how you train your hand with the pencil and paint brush.

(I can't for the life of me remember the name of that other painter!)

Bob Ross Joy of Painting Series: Beginner's 3-Hour Workshop DVD English
Bob Ross Joy of Painting Series: Beginner's 3-Hour Workshop DVD English

Bob Ross is my favorite painter and he shared many simple techniques through his program that I use today in my window paintings.


I will always remember how I started my window painting business. It is amazing how that special Fall day from my middle school years is still a highlight in my memory and heart this many years down the line. Over the years I share that story with folks who ask and it was really neat to share it with you here. Norma has been gone a long time now but I wish now and then I could grab her, give her a big hug, and say, "Lady! Thank you so much!"

Thank you for taking a trip down memory lane with me!

Have a great day!

Guestbook Comments & Review

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    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @CrazyHomemaker: It all starts with a few of your favorite favorite images.See the lens So, You Want To Paint Holiday Windows and see how to draw and paint the snowman character.

      I do have a great time with it. It is only a side job at holiday time. I would really like to be able to earn a full time living with it, but for now it is a great way to make Christmas money. Thank you for taking the time here to add a comment. =) Happy Holidays!

    • CrazyHomemaker profile image


      5 years ago

      Really wonderful and interesting lens! It is wonderful to be able to do something you love as a way to make a bit of a living. It would be so nice to do something like this. I can't draw for anything, but I'm trying. This would be really fun.

    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @anonymous: Thanks Sis! =) I hope to hear (see) some of your stories soon here! Appreciate the comment!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i love that you got started with Ms. Norma. I love and miss her. It does take a village to raise a family. We were blessed with so many treasures who gave us gifts we use now. I have always admired your talent for painting. Glad the rest of the world can now see it. love lil sister..sara


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