How to Letter Paint a Vintage Window

Decorating the inside of the Lake Cottage this Spring has been fun. Aside from my usual refresh of accent pillows, rugs and the fireplace mantel, I painted my vintage window for Spring! What I like about art & words on the window, is that the sunlight creates a subtle mix of opacity – you look through it, not at it. Unfortunately to show details I had to skew my lighting, so the paint’s transparency is not captured in my photos.

During the Winter Holidays I used chalk pen to decorate the window (HERE’S the tut)

For Spring I put away the chalk pen and used acrylic craft paint to paint flowers and letters on the window, The Earth laughs in flowers, a quote from Emerson.

I have limited painting skills, so I gathered a handful of brushes and tested out their strokes on the a paper plate. It’s moments like this that I really miss my artsy sister, who could make suggestions, show me how, or just paint it for me.

Spring Vintage Window…

Here’s how I did it, I learned a lot so I’m including lots of suggestions, aka: Tips, which brings me to Tip#1: Guts – if painting is not your skill, I’m with you there, just remember it washes off easily, so be brave & give it a go. If you don’t have a vintage window use any window in your house. An window near the entry would be so welcoming to guests.

Tip #2: Trace your letters and art. I told you this was simple! I knew using a paint brush would be challenge enough, so I chose a Spring freebie printable from one of my favorite bloggers, Kristin, at, I love her blog. You just need something to loosely. Google, images with quotes, to find 100’s (millions!) of ideas for tracing.

Lay the enlarged lettering & art under the glass as your guide. You can paint on both sides of the glass (later, I tell you why you want to do that)

After positioning letters & art, I painted the flowers first, so I could get the feel of the paint & its flow before tackling the lettering. Tip #3: Paint on both sides of the glass. The flowers & birds have a layered look because painting on both sides of the window affects the transparency of the paint. Light shining through the glass creates a pretty variation of opacity, which I can tell you, greatly enhanced my painting skills.

Tip #4: Experiment with brushes & strokes. Take your brush and test it on a paper plate or in a blank area of the window (remember, it wipes off). The brush is your tool, so you should test out what it can do, each brush shape creates a different look. I accidentally discovered that my fan brush makes a fan stroke, duh. I used it to make a feather comb on the head of a bird and to make white puffy flowers by tapping the brush. After testing a flat brush, I created some yellow “violas” with a press/lift brush movement. I like how each petal opacity is different.

Tip #5: Relax! Place the window at a height that you feel comfortable for painting. I used the dining table, although it may be easier for you to hang the window and paint in a vertical position. Either way your arm needs to be relaxed so your brush stroke is smooth…Flowing. When lettering, I was jittery at first, trying to trace letters exactly, but as I continued I loosened up, and let my template just guide me. Seriously, a glass of wine would be a good idea, just one glass ; ) Your excuse…you really need to relax to paint cursive letters. BTW – I used a brush with a slant (?) tip (see brush in photo below) to get a broad thick & thin letter like in calligraphy.

After I finished, I re-hung the window and filled in the top edge with cascading flowers.

Then the next day, after I walked by the room several hundred times admiring it, I thought, it needs birds…why not. I again, went online, Googled “bird silhouette clip art”. First I painted the birds on the backside of the glass, then flipped the window over, and painted the feather detail on the glass front-side.

I “winged-it” when it came to details, ha, using my new-found brush skills. There was a freedom in knowing mistakes could be wiped-away without messing up the bird’s body. I won’t tell you how many times I redid the eye on one bird.

I hope you are Inspired to paint on glass, especially since you now know it is easy, forgiving and involves wine. Relax & Enjoy your week, next time MML will be kicking into high gear with a full month of gardens and all things Spring!

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!

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