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Painted Window Screen

Replace an ordinary window screen with this painted coastal scene.

Robin Copeland of Yarmouth, Maine, always feels like she's on the outside looking in and she prefers it that way. This stay-at-home mom, with a degree in fine arts, had already painted murals on all the walls of her home when she came across an article about the lost art of screen painting. It wasn't long after researching the technique, before she was furnishing all the neighbors with her screen door and window works of art. What makes these window screens unique is that the image disappears when looking out from the inside of the house, due to the outside light silhouetting the screen.

Materials and Tools:

metal channel framing
screen spline roller
corner pieces
exterior latex house paint: mid blue, dark blue, mid green, light green, brown, black, red, yellow and white
utility knife
yardstick or tape measure
blue painter's tape
pencil or marker
white chalk
variety of brushes*
spray polyurethane sealer
*Choose brushes used for house painting, artist brushes and inexpensive chip brushes. Practical sizes: 1/4" for outlining, 1/2" for details, 1" for clouds, 2" flat for large areas.


Making the Screen

1. Measure the window for the outside dimensions of the screen. Mark the outside edge of the metal framing with a pencil and cut the framing to size with a hacksaw.

2. Connect the four sides with an angle piece in each corner. These are available as kits.

3. Cut a screen piece a few inches larger than the frame on all sides. With the channel side up, lay the screen over the frame.

4. If using a metal screen, bend the screen into the channel with the convex side of the screen spline roller.

5. Beginning on a short side with the concave side of the wheel, force the spline into the channel over the screen by rolling down the length of the screen with the spline roller. Continue around all sides pulling gently on the screen to maintain tension as you run the spline.

6. Trim the edge to fit with a utility knife. Tamp in the end of spline with a screwdriver. Trim off excess screen by running a utility knife along the outside edge of the spline channel.

Painting the Screen

1. Sketch out a design for the window screen on paper. A small thumbnail image will help with composition. For ideas use photos, pictures from magazines, books, or cards.

2. Whether using an existing screen or making a new one, always mark the top outside of the screen with a piece of tape — this orients the screen correctly so you won't paint the wrong side.

3. Tape off the edges of the screen to keep the frame neat.

4. Prime the screen with a light blue paint for the sky. Work the brush both horizontally and vertically to cover both directions of the screening grid. Paint with a fairly dry brush to prevent the screen holes from clogging.

5. After the screen is dry (15-20 minutes) outline the design onto the screen with chalk. Draw the horizon line, shoreline and grass areas with black paint using a lining brush.

6. Paint white clouds in a circular motion with a 1-inch paintbrush. Paint from the top down.

7. Paint the ocean area with a dark vivid blue.

8. Paint the sand area with a warm beige shade. Mix white, yellow, brown and a small amount of red paint to create a warm beige hue.

10. Paint the grass area a medium green mixed with a little yellow. Allow a few minutes to dry.

11. Outline the placement of palm trees and the boat with chalk.

12. Paint the palm fronds with a black or a very dark green color and a lining brush. Paint the trunks of the trees a dark brown and highlight the trunks. Paint the palm fronds with a light green allowing a little black to show through. Highlight the fronds with yellow paint.

13. Paint one edge of the tree trunks with a very light brown.

14. Paint the shadows on the sand and grass with a mid-brown.

15. Paint the boat and its reflection in the water a dark blue. Paint a few ripple lines for waves in the middle ground and along the shoreline with white paint and smaller brushes. Paint the mast, boom and deck of the sailboat and anchor buoy white. Paint a black line for the anchor line and cockpit.

16. Hold the screen up to the light (looking through the back) to check for any plugged holes. If holes are plugged, pierce the paint from the front side of the screen with the point of a toothpick.

17. Allow the paint to dry and spray with clear polyurethane for added protection. Remove the tape and replace the painted window screen in the window.


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