“The thing I love about window murals is the shadows they create, especially in a home,” says Lauren Berg, from Warren, whose intricate glass paintings decorate shops, restaurants, and, more recently, residences in and around greater Portland. “It’s an immersive experience. You can’t hide from the light.”
On a pair of lancet windows on a circa 1898 Methodist church turned home in Yarmouth, Berg painted delicate, white-birch boughs bent into symmetrical, interlocking arcs that mirror the building’s Gothic lines. In the center of one window’s botanical Venn diagram is a white-and-gold star. The other features a pine tree, inspired by the 1901 Maine flag, in the same palette. On Cumberland Foreside, the large living-room window on her parents’ modern cottage received a flock of snowy native birds perched on a white tree. “If you’re looking at a house, the windows usually appear black. And so to use white is very high contrast, eye-catching, and simple,” Berg says. Inside, the murals cast shadowy abstract designs on the walls. When you peer out through them, the colors on nearby homes and trees mingle with the imagery.
Born in Virginia and raised in New England and Belgium, Berg studied painting and graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2017, she and her husband moved to Portland, where she received a master’s degree in teaching from the Maine College of Art and Design. The following year, while working as a server at a struggling downtown restaurant, Berg offered to paint a window mural to attract customers. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I went for it,” she says. The mural didn’t save the eatery, “but it helped me.” One of the restaurant’s patrons, Heather Veitch, owner of Yarmouth clothing boutique Gingham, became her first paying client, in 2018. That winter, one of Gingham’s window designs caught the eye of her first residential customer, the owner of the converted Yarmouth church. “Especially when the light is sparse, murals can amplify it,” Berg says. “They draw your attention to the window and the sun and celebrate it a little bit.”
Berg creates her murals by applying acrylic paint to window interiors. She recommends dusting them with a feather duster and occasionally using a cloth to wipe around the designs, which will last indefinitely. (Glass cleaner and a razor blade will work for removing the paint.) When homeowners are choosing a motif, she suggests thinking about “how it can be part of the house and fit in — you shouldn’t get bored of looking at it, but it also shouldn’t be such a look-at-me thing that it’s going to be distracting.” Recently, she dreamed up a window painting for her own house. On the French doors of her new nursery, where she’ll cuddle her first child this winter, Berg painted lush native ferns that crowd the glass and cast a tapestry of shadows into the room. “I wanted it to feel like a nest,” she says. “I love thinking that my artwork will envelop us when we’re nesting in there.”
Get all of our latest stories delivered straight to your mailbox every month. Subscribe to Down East magazine.