How to Paint Designs on Window Screens

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With a scant amount of paint and light pressure, you can turn your window screens into works of art. This art form can fool the eye. When you look through the screen toward a light background, you may not see the design, but if there is some shadow or darkness the painting becomes apparent. Screen painting works best when you build colors gradually. Working with non-toxic acrylic paints allows the painting to dry quickly. At times it will look as if some of your colors have not been applied, but be patient because as you layer the colors using a light touch and very little paint, you will see the picture take shape. Using a light touch won't stretch the screen, and little paint means there is less chance for the screen spaces to become clogged.

Things You'll Need

  • Black construction paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Assorted art brushes
  • Mesh screen with frame
  • Chalk pencil
  • Line drawing
  • Toothpick or straight pin
  • Stretch the mesh screen flat and tape it in place on the frame if it isn't already framed. The screen surface must sit above the work surface so there is space underneath it. You will paint the screen side that will be turned outdoors.

  • Base-coat the background of the screen if it is required for your design. Use a flat brush and lightly sweep a small amount of paint across the surface so the holes in the screen don't clog. Repeat this as necessary. To see if you have covered the screen area with color, slide a dark or light sheet of paper (depending on the color of your background) underneath the screen. The color will show up that way. Let the paint dry.

  • Trace a line-drawing pattern with dark lines on white paper. Slide the design underneath the screen and lightly transfer the entire design onto the mesh using the chalk pencil.

  • Layer the paint onto the background of the design with the base coat color of each section. The brush should be dry and used with a small amount of paint. If you find there is too much paint on the brush, wipe the excess color off the brush hairs.

  • Add the next layer when the paint has dried. Slide the dark paper underneath the painting to see how it is progressing and whether more color is needed in certain areas. After the layers are complete and dried, add the details to the design.

  • Apply a clear coat of spray varnish to seal the design. Be careful not to clog the holes in the screen by over spraying.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the appropriate-size brush for the job.
  • Clear any clogs immediately by gently blowing on the clog or use a straight pin or toothpick to clear it.
  • Always spray varnish or sealers outside or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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