New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | November 1, 2020

Replacing windows draws out art talent in NK resident

By Robb Johnson | July 8, 2010 4:10 pm

When window curtains hanging inside his Quinton home began gently swaying in the breeze — and the windows weren’t open — Lee Dail knew it was time to install replacements.

But that project, he realized, would entail considerable expense. His house, built in the early 1960s as the original home in what would become the Five Lakes subdivision, featured 30 windows. And he had already poured lots of cash into what he termed a “money pit.” Before he and his wife, Tara Leigh, bought the place in 2003, time and neglect had taken its toll.

Then in searching for ways to cut costs, Dail happened upon a grant of up to $2,000 offered by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) for homeowners making energy-saving repairs or improvements. He submitted an application and won approval.

Grant money, coupled with a 30 percent federal tax credit and finding replacement windows on sale at 10 percent off, helped to drastically reduce the bill. Dail then saved more by doing installation on his own, with help from his sons. Left with a pile of old wooden frame windows, he stumbled upon an idea that would save the discards from the trash heap and at the same time thank the DMME for its grant.

“The old windows had a lot of character, and I’m the type of person who’ll not throw anything away if it still has a useful life,” Dail said during a June 15 interview.

“Last winter we had a lot of snow and it left curly patterns on the windows. When I looked at those patterns, I thought I could paint these things,” he said. “So starting in January when it was cold and there was nothing to do, I started painting them. And as I got used to painting, I got better.

“The DMME people had been so nice that I decided to do something for them,” he said. “I put together a window for them and told them I’d like to thank them. They sort of took the idea and ran with it.”

Thus on June 24, a delegation of DMME officials visited the Dail home for the artwork presentation, graciously accepting the donation that is bound for display in their Richmond office. The piece depicts solar, wind, and geothermal sources for energy and touts the value of energy efficient windows and doors. It also boasts the DMME logo.

“If you’d asked me in December if I was an artist, I would have said no, but I guess it’s a passion,” Dail said.

His finished pieces take on the appearance of stained glass thanks to a type of paint known as “gallery glass.” Colors are enhanced when sunlight or an artificial source is used to illuminate the work from behind.

Dail has examples of his work for sale on his web site, dubbed Windows ANEW (an acronym for Art from Non-Efficient Windows). Log on to So far he has transformed about half of the old windows into works of art.

“I’ll not stop there,” he said. “I’ll paint all of these and then I’ll go to the dump and pick up more.”

As for energy savings resulting from his double-pane, argon-filled, foam-insulated, tinted glass replacement windows, he said, “Our energy bill has dropped already. Man, what a difference.”