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Christmas Cartoon Windows: Interior vs Exterior Paint Jobs

In my family we like to kick off the Christmas season by decorating our tree, enjoying a plate of Christmas cookies and watching our first Christmas movie of the season! I have a stack of our favorites…Rudolf, Frosty, the Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, the Grinch, Elf, etc! This year the boys picked The Christmas Story and we plan to work our way through them all this month!

I needed to create some sample windows to take photos, so I can show my clients visually what the difference is between windows painted from the interior vs exterior. So, I incorporated some of our favorite “Christmas specials” into my own home windows this past weekend! I still plan to add a few more characters in the coming weeks, but here’s what I have done so far! I also did a little bit of experimenting with glitter paint!

Are you unsure whether you want your windows painted from the inside or the outside? Ask your artist as they may have recommendations based on various factors. If you want it to grab attention from the outside, exterior painting may attract the most attention. However, if your windows are not on ground level where an artist can easily reach them, it’s too cold to work outside, or you’re worried about weather damaging them before you want them gone, an interior painting may be better. Read on to see some visual examples of the differences!

Frosty!! Painted on the exterior.
Santa!! Painted on the exterior.
Rudolf and Hermie! Painted on the exterior. The eggshell paint makes the designs really pop over the glossy window.
Max and the Grinch! Painted on the interior! You can see some reflections here in the glass.

Both interior and exterior paintings have their pro’s and con’s. As you can see below, the Grinch & Max aren’t QUITE as bright and bold as the others, because the window is still creating reflections in front of the paint. The other characters, however, block reflections because they are painted over the exterior glass. However, interior paintings can be a bit more interesting viewed from the inside too, not just the outside. They can also give a fun stained glass effect at night when the light shines through.

Interior paint job (grinch on left) vs exterior paint jobs (frosty, Santa, Rudolf and Hermie on right)

Painting on the OUTSIDE to be viewed from the OUTSIDE

Painting the exterior is generally my preferred method…when the temperatures are nice. Minnesota’s winter temperatures, however, do not play well with paint or liquids in general, not to mention the physical toil it takes on the artist. You have to wear more layers, bring more gear and take more time to create the same design you could paint in the summer. However, we had a nice 50 degree day last weekend, which was perfect to squeeze in this exterior paint job before the temps dropped! Below you can see the process I use for an exterior paint job.

I start with a white base, then add main colors, and finish off with outlines and highlights.

When I paint on the exterior, I start with a white base. This is what really makes the colors pop. It also ensures that you aren’t wasting a lot of colors going over something again and again to achieve a bright, opaque look. Then I add the main color fields, and finally I do outlines and highlights.

As you can see below, it’s not really meant to be viewed from the inside. (the left is a view of the window from inside the house…the right is outside) This doesn’t normally matter to businesses because their goal is to catch the attention of passersby outside, not inside.

However, there are some applications where you might want the painting viewable from the inside…for instance, if it is meant to be enjoyed by residents in a nursing home or kids in a daycare center.

Painting from the INSIDE to be viewed from the OUTSIDE

Interior window painting is ideal for the artist during those colder months. The paint flows and dries better when it’s not frozen, and designs also are easier to remove when the water isn’t turning to slush! It also is a good way to keep your artwork protected from wear and weather if you have issues with that. However, painting something on the INside that is meant to be viewed from the OUTside is a trickier and more time consuming process. The reason is that you have to work in reverse…if you make a mistake, you can’t just cover it up with more paint, because it’s being viewed from the other side. Basically you start with the outlines, highlights and shadows, which is something you do at the end of a traditional exterior painting, and work backwards, doing the main color fields last. It takes lots of confidence, more precision, and more layers of every color to get the bright, opaque results.

Interior process: Starts with the outlines, then shadows/highlights, then main color fields.

Above you can see the view of this interior painting from OUTSIDE on the left, and from the INSIDE on the right. As you can see, it looks nice and crisp when viewed from the outside, as is intended. However, it looks a little sloppier from the inside, just because of the layering method, and because it wasn’t done for inside viewing. Although, with more time I could go back over the outlines again at the end to clean it up from the inside if necessary. Again, most businesses wouldn’t care about this if their goal is to attract attention from outside. Even if you don’t clean it up on the inside, you can make out the design and colors much more from inside with this method than you could with Rudolf above, who looks more white from inside.

One kindof fun side effect of an interior paint job is that it almost lights up like a stained glass window at night, when it’s dark outside but your lights are on behind the art. A design painted on the exterior, however, wouldn’t look so colorful at night because the white base blocks the light from coming through.

Painting on the INSIDE to be viewed from the OUTSIDE AND INSIDE

It is also possible to create a design that is just as clean & crisp from the inside as it is from the outside…it just requires extra time to basically paint the same design twice…once in reverse considering the outside viewer, and then layering again over the top to clean it up for the inside viewer. Does your brain hurt yet? Hehe! If I get some free time I might go over the Grinch painting again from the inside, just to show how that can look…

More examples to come! Stay tuned!

I’ll be putting together a nice visual reference with all this info for my clients in the near future….but first I want to get photos of a design painted on vinyl and adhered to the outside, for more comparisons. Vinyl is another great method for the colder months, because the design can be painted indoors at the artist’s studio, and then applied on site. Stay tuned for more on that process!

Looking to have your windows painted for the holidays? Find out more or request a quote on our window painting page!

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Christmas Window Painting

Yesterday I had the pleasure of painting some fun holiday windows for Lake Harriet Florist in Minneapolis! I was contacted on Monday for a quote, got them a price and sketches based on what they were looking for, and was already out there painting on Thursday! I moved pretty quickly with this one since Thursday was forecasted to be an unseasonably warm day, reaching the 50’s! It was a perfect day for painting, and such a beautiful storefront with nice windows. They were kind enough to remove the pretty planters and spruce tips that were in front of the windows so I’d have space to work…so I’ll have to get another photo with THEIR beautiful work once they put it all back! Lake Harriet Florist create STUNNING flower arrangements…if you’re looking for some really incredible flowers and live in the Twin Cities, I’d highly recommend supporting this talented small business who also supported my small business! Spread the local business love!

These were so much fun to paint! The client wanted to steer clear of being too cartoony, so I toned down the outlines with a dark gray instead of a black. That way I could still make the colors pop without dark outlines. It’s hard to tell in the photos here but this was the first time I experimented with metallic silver paint! I used metallic silver as the background of the holly ornament, and on all of the tops of each ornament. It turned out pretty cool!

Process photos…

I was there for about 6 hours, from the time I pulled up to the time I cleaned up. It took about an hour to get the windows all cleaned and prepped and sketch out the design. A little over an hour to do the white (since that included all the “dangles” above), and then the rest was painting! I brought a fan along and was able to paint pretty much non stop, moving the fan to dry as I went on to another section.

Here’s a time lapse video! My GoPro at one point decided to switch from time lapse mode to normal recording, so it either ran out of space or battery before the end, but this will show you some of the process.

Check out the website and fill out our request for quote form if you’re interested in having your business windows painted!

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As The Seasons Change…so do the WINDOWS!

This week I finally got around to removing my previous coloring book window…which was SUPER FUN, and still looked as great as it did the day I put it up, but it said “Hello Summer” and we are now most definitely into fall here in Minnesota! So, this time I decided to spruce up our windows with some fun Halloween designs to welcome the kids that we hope will still be able to trick-or-treat this year! Here’s a quick little time lapse of the painting process…

This is a GREAT time to get your windows painted, whether you want something fun on your house to make your trick-or-treaters smile, or you’re a business hoping to lure in some more traffic as the temperatures drop! Plus, we window painters love utilizing nice weather days to paint…before the snow flies, wink wink!

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Birthday Window Painting: Happy 13th Birthday Wyatt!

We’ve recently started offering window paintings as a fun, no-contact alternative to help you celebrate your family’s milestones! Window paintings are great for birthdays, graduations and other special events, especially in quarantine! Last weekend I had the opportunity to paint a surprise birthday window for Wyatt! Above is my initial sketch, with the final window in the background.

Here you can see the progression. First I start by cleaning the window, then apply a base coat of white. In the center photo you can see the gradient I laid down for the “13th.” I then carved out the numbers & letters using a razor blade!

There’s just something that is oh so satisfying about scraping off fresh paint! Haha!

Me with the finished product!

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NEW “Coloring Book” Style Window Paintings

We are having so much fun with this fun, interactive style of window painting! It’s a great way for your kids to be a part of the art, and the perfect way to entertain and celebrate occasions during the pandemic with no contact necessary!

We paint a design using only white linework on the outside of your window, with our outdoor paint that can last for weeks.

No-contact fun…we’ll paint on the outside of the window!

Inside the house, you and your kids can color in the design using chalk markers or window markers, just like a giant coloring book! (Scroll down for our recommended markers for coloring it in!)

Chalk markers are easy to wipe off with a damp paper towel or cloth, so your kids can color again and again! And when you’re all done with it, just let us know and we’ll come out to remove the outside paint for you.

Outside view, before adding color

Inside view, after coloring
Outside view, after coloring

Chalk Marker Recommendations

Here are a few great chalk markers that we’ve tried and recommend, and a photo of what they look like on the window!

Here’s how they look on the window. All were super easy to wipe off with a damp cloth! If your kids get a little crazy with markers, we’d recommend taping off any porous, wood window trim.

The “Chalktastic” and “MRNKI” brand chalk markers give the best, brightest, opaque coverage. But, they do have an extra step when you get them…you have to shake them up and push the tip down for a few seconds to get a flow of liquid chalk. These show up great through the window too! The Expo neon window markers were fun too for neon colors…not as bright as chalk markers but they are super easy to just open the cap and use, like kids are used to. The Crayola “Crystal Effects” are really fun! They are really hard to see while you are coloring, but as the ink dries, you get a crystallized effect on the window. We used these markers for the sun and some of the water in this design.

Visit our window painting page for more information, or to book YOUR custom “coloring book” window!

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Window Paint Removal

Yesterday I removed some window paint that had been on my vehicle for a month and a half! In general it still looked great…just now starting to crinkle in one spot. But, it was time to take it off. Here’s a video of how the removal went!

Last month I removed the super fun birthday Yoda painting I did, however, due to user error my GoPro did not record it. It was a bit more stubborn to get off, but came off nice and clean!