In Baltimore, a city full of rowhouses, there is a long tradition of painted screens. This dates to the days before central air conditioning and was used to allow people to have their ground floor windows open but not have the inside of the house seen by everyone walking by. As air conditioning became more ubiquitious, the painted screen tradition faded away.
Traditionally, the screens were in working-class neighbourhoods with their rowhouses and lack of greenspaces and trees. The images painted on the windows didn't vary much, usually a red-roofed cottage surrounded by tall firs and cheerful gardens, and a pond in front with several white swans a-swimming.
Last year, my dog Connor, decided he didn't really want to be stuck inside, so one day when I had the windows open and the screens down, he jumped out the window. Twice. The first time, he just pushed the screen out of the frame, but the second time, he shredded it. Because it was summer, I just cranked the A/C and didn't do anything about the screen. But this spring has been so cool, I have been keeping the windows open and needed to have the screen repaired.
I decided that I wanted to try my hand at screen painting, but didn't want to use the tradtional paintings. I found a decorative print element, enlarged it and printed it out on numerous sheets and taped them together. Then I set to painting the screen with a cream background, and then traced the element onto the screen and filled it in. One of the main problems with painting is making sure the holes aren't clogged with paint. After the screen dried, I coated it with several coats of spray varnish and put it in the window.