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…………………..TO DRAW ON GLASS..……………………
You can use a child’s felt tipped marker, chalk, soap or a china marker.
Temporary Window Paintings; ALL KINDS OF PAINTS CAN BE USED and removed (except specialty glass paints created for permanence, other permanent paints may require a razor/blade for removal).
Your brush marks to some extent will be visible from the inside looking out in the light of day, no matter which side of the window you paint on, and that’s O.K. Most pros use rollers or roller type applicators to cover large areas of glass, aside from leaving no brush marks it’s a lot faster! (Brush marks should not be present in permanent signage)
…………………..TEMPERA AND ACRYLICS..……………………
Most commonly used for temporary window paintings, tempera is the easiest to clean up, with hobbyist acrylics being the next easiest to remove from glass generally. There are many brands of both types of paints available on the market and all of them will serve your purposes to a greater or lesser extent.
My own Tempera Preference PRO/ART ARTWORKS
My experience is limited to an extent having chosen to work almost exclusively with Pro/Art tempera for decorative window paintings. I have used quite a few other brands and some of them worked fine but I want to say this on behalf of Pro/Art tempera’s, they will always wash out of your clothes and off your skin. I have had some other brands stain my hands like food coloring; more often the consistency seems to be uneven lumpy/watery. This Holiday season I will be painting with some colors of PRO/ART ARTWORKS paint that have been frozen solid at least a few dozen times and are at least four years old, for instance I seldom use black, my black Pro/Art is carried with me for Rodeos and Christmas, the plastic bottle looks like it is going to explode from being left in the trunk of my car perhaps for weeks on end in 100 + temperatures, it’s made of good plastic but it gotten so hot at times (I wonder if it boiled). Then it gets frozen solid repeatedly in the holiday season. I leave it in the trunk with other colors I use little of; they seem to thaw rather quickly. I just grab my white paint, crystal spray and brushes at the end of the day and bring them in or not. Yes sometimes I leave all my stuff in the car and just wash out my brushes the next day or next week…. This product is forgiving PRO/ART also produces acrylics that hold up through weather changes over years and act like new! I am sure there are equally good brands of tempera on the market; I know there are a lot of great acrylics. This is also about flow; the PRO/ART handles really well which is the number one factor. If you live somewhere that only sells junky temperas in the craft stores (sad but often true) you may order PRO/ART through the links provided below. You’re not going to want the PRO/ART pearlescent in my own experience; it is to translucent for the general window reality which you’ll be up against. Nor do you want to buy Crayola, Prang or Palmer unless you’re in a pinch and you need it right now and it is all that they have in town. Dick Blick has a few brands of temperas I haven’t tried and I have heard some are pretty good but they don’t carry the pro/art so I’m listing links for the specific products I use here. I love the gold metallic, and the fluorescents get a lot of use, for instance a red bow will definitely get a bit of fluorescent orange, pink or red as a highlight to make it vibrate. I recommend big bottles, if your on a budget buy fewer colors and bigger bottles, I could use up a tiny bottle in one job and so could you unless your work is super delicate. So here are the links to these pigment rich professional grade temperas available online from Regular Tempera , Pro Art Metallic Tempera Colors 16 oz. bottle gold, and Fluorescent Tempera. Temperas are nice to use, and you can count on their colours being true. You may find this is not always the case when you’re painting with certain colors of the craft acrylics, I do not want to discourage their usage however because they work great. (The only real draw back in painting with something other than temperas is cleanup, acrylics dry fast and you need to be more careful in handling them, as once dry they can be difficult if not impossible to remove from fabric and other surfaces without harm.) If you were painting something salmon or gold in acrylics it may be less translucent than a tempera would, it may be seen as a brown or a dim shade from the side of the glass with the lesser amount of light shining on your paints. It may in short create its own shadow; acrylics can act like a plastic and even a light shade may behave like an application of rubber if there are brown or black pigments in the color. If a color seems too dim try adding some white to it, only a few colors will create this illusion; you can count on the purple, pink, and true yellows; and your red and green and blues should be fine too. The acrylic metallics will not be reflective except on the face that is struck by the light. Temperas dry with a matt finish, but all their colors are translucent; and both the acrylic and tempera fluorescents will glow under a black light. (Often the home painter will be most concerned with the view of the design from the inside, and would be disappointed if the colors were less than true, whereas in a commercial setting, to the extent that acrylic colors may be displaced by their shadows the overall effect would still be pleasant and professional. I would recommend that you not take this minor detail into consideration when painting commercially. Consider the fact that lettering done on storefront windows appears backwards viewed from inside and is not disconcerting; and so do other perimeters change.)
HOUSE GRADE ACRYLICS are fine to use on windows and some professionals use nothing else for temporary decorative painting. The types of this kind of paint are so numerous that there is little that can be said with surety except that the paint industry has invested a great deal into extending the applications of acrylic paints as the oil bases are harder to dispose of; as a result there are some incredible water based paints out there!
It is unwise to paint without adequate overhang, such as an awning to protect your design from the weather. If your temperas become wet enough they will streak or wash away. A few sprinkles won’t disturb your work nor will high humidity, but an honest rainstorm can destroy it. There are however waterproof temperas available that will still wash off the windows easily.
You can apply an after coat of AQUA NET ALL WEATHER HAIR SPRAY which will offer some protection and be virtually invisible. However acrylics are recommended if you suspect that your design will be struck by rain. If the design is quite temporary and is destined to be removed before any probable storms are likely you may want to chance using the temperas. You may mistakenly believe that a window is protected when in fact it is not. Raindrop prints on windows always mean that they get rained on. Sometimes windows are struck by bouncing rain that splatters upwards; sometimes they are hit by rain that blows sideways. If you are visually unable to qualify this possibility and are painting commercially ask the management. Because storms tend to blow in certain directions certain sides of structures will generally be far more susceptible than others.
Rarely you will find that a window has been treated with an agent that will cause tempera paints to POP OFF THE GLASS OR FLAKE OFF IN STRIPS, the imperceptible shrinkage of the dried paint allows for it to slide over this flux as it pulled more closely towards itself, thusly it forms into areas of paint as it dries that are released from your window. (Bummer) Some surface treatments will also cause your tempera to bead up as if there is a wax coating underneath, be forewarned. BEADING though does not always indicate that your paint won’t stay put. As tempera dries so quickly it’s easy to check by trying to disrupt it with a finger once it’s dry. When this phenomena does occur it is most likely to take place around entryways, especially the more common simple beading of paints. Often entryways receive some sort of prep that enables easier cleanup of fingerprints etc. POPPING PAINT though is pretty unique, you might happen across it in less than three out of a hundred establishments. An ammonia solvent may alleviate this residue such as is found in most commercial window cleaners. Some painters that work with temperas pre-spray the area with HAIR SPRAY as prep to alleviate these conditions when they do exist, others may paint on a thin coat of EVAPORATED MILK, and others will have other methods, Jazz makes a prep for tempera under painting just for this purpose.
TEMPERAS…are simple to remove, with a wet sponge, cloth or spray bottle, moisten the design with water and wait a few seconds for it to soften up. Some colours take a little longer than others to absorb moisture, but in the end they all wash off with water. (If you under paint with white your design will be less apt to grab hold of the glass so tightly. White reconstitutes quicker than other colors and will absorb moisture through the color overlay and help to lift it.) A good brand of tempera is most forgiving and will not stain most fabrics or destroy your brushes even if you forget to clean them!
ACRYLICS… too are simple to remove, with the right scraper and a good wetting down they will come off quite readily, especially the craft models. As in the removal of temperas use a sponge, spray bottle or cloth first to moisten the paints with water. Although acrylics will not wash off in a rainstorm a good soak will soften them and make them easier to remove. Many of the craft type acrylics can in part be scrubbed off and a straight edge razor blade will remove any leftover paints. Professional window washers use a scraper blade to remove window paints; essentially this is a large single edge replaceable razor with a holder. Acrylics will come off in leaves of plastic.
The HOUSE PAINT variety of acrylics may not be quite as simple as the hobbyist types as they may be somewhat less elastic, but again if you use a large scraper blade and moisten the paint first you should have no difficulty as many professional window painters make use of house paints exclusively and window washers wash up after them repeatedly. You should not however paint a large snow scene or a big pumpkin patch with house paint and expect yourself to scrape it off with a tiny little blade! Just so you know, unless you have a window washing business you won’t be washing windows commercially.
One client told a tale of a home painter that had painted so much black on the glass that the window broke, that sounds reasonable...
*Professional Window Washers use cool water in cool weather to clean windows. We recommend you do not use hot water to clean windows in very cool weather. If you are painting commercially you will NOT be washing windows unless you also have a window cleaning business, again, if you plan to wash any windows professionally be sure and do the of research.
Be sensitive to extreme temperature variations with glass at home especially on older windows. Glass is amorphous and considered a rigid liquid having no crystalline structure, hence in old windows you can see that the glass has sagged. Throwing hot water on a very cold window can cause it to snap and lose that magic rigid flow, shattering.
(A consideration for commercial applications)
When you’re working with the hobbyist’s acrylics or temperas you may wish to siouette your design first with white as it can make a lot of difference when working with certain colours, as even the very bright ones can sink to some extent into the glass unless you first create a ‘matt’. That bright red paint will look a lot deeper in color than it is unless you stop it from retreating into the colorless plate. It’s no big deal; and generally speaking you do not need to have a perfect overlay (or underlay); pre-painting with white is certainly not a requirement, nor is it even desirable in many instances!
One instance not to pre-paint with white is when your design will be viewed primarily from the inside in the light of day. If the design were for an after dark event and lit from the inside you may perhaps want to. Likewise if your painting were intricate it would not be worth the time, but if you have fast brushes it may be a consideration. When working with tempera the white will be imperceptible, it will change into the color you lay over it and for your purposes and look nearly the same from the inside as out. The difference though less remarkable is the same in effect as if you painted on two sheets of paper, one gray and one white. If your paint were red and on gray paper no light would reflect its color back to your eye and it would be less vibrant than it would appear on the white, unless it were very thick, and that would be thicker than you would want to put on a window for decorative purposes.
'When you are painting you should take a flat mirror and often look at your work within it, and it will then be seen in reverse and will appear to be by the hand of some other master, and you will be better able to judge of its faults than in any other way.' Leonardo da Vinci