‘Pounding the pavement’ to find windows to paint

Published 8:22 am Monday, November 24, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks Aislinn Ryan works on a window painting at Big John’s Closeouts in downtown Elizabethton.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Aislinn Ryan works on a window painting at Big John’s Closeouts in downtown Elizabethton.

Everyone shares the Christmas spirit in her own way. For Aislinn Ryan, it involves paint, brushes and panes of glass.
Ryan has been painting holiday scenes on windows for more than 20 years. Since she moved to Carter County two years ago, she has been “pounding the pavement” to get the word out about what she can do, she said.
Part of that effort included visiting the shops in downtown Elizabethton to offer her services as a window painter. She gained two clients who wanted Christmas scenes painted on their business windows, but she is hoping more will want the festive artwork to adorn their windows.
“This is like my ‘little drummer boy’ gift,” Ryan said. “He couldn’t bring a gift, but he could play his drums. I try to bring the Christmas cheer with what I can do. What I can do is paint.”
Ryan even has a specific shirt she wears when painting windows to help spread the Christmas cheer a little earlier. On the days when she will be painting windows, she dons a bright green T-shirt with Santa Claus’ smiling face emblazoned on it.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I wear my Santa shirt because it brings a smile to people’s faces.”
Less than ideal conditions do not stop Ryan from doing her job. On a recent cold and snowy Monday morning, she was stationed outside the Kimbrel-Long Allstate Insurance office on East Elk Avenue painting the window there.
“She’s a trooper, that’s for sure,” owner Charlie Long said.
Long has had his business’s windows painted for Christmas before, which he said brings many positive comments from clients. He hired Ryan to do the job this year as a way to support the local artistic talent.
“It makes the business more festive,” Long said. “There is a lot of traffic goes by here, so we take advantage of that.”
Ryan wishes more businesses would add holiday scenes to their windows to help bring even more of the Christmas atmosphere to downtown Elizabethton.
“If the whole neighborhood got together and painted their windows, it would give families a reason to come downtown,” she said. “The families could come together and look at all of the windows. I know when I see them, it puts me in a good mood, especially at Christmastime.”
When Ryan got her first job as a holiday window painter in Ohio, she said it all happened by accident. She was working as a face painter doing festivals and other events when the manager of a hotel called to ask about her window painting prices.
“I never had (painted windows) before, but I said I would,” Ryan said. “Opportunities like that don’t come around every day. You don’t look a gift horse like that in the mouth.”
After that, she said she “scrambled” to find the right supplies and develop a plan before meeting with the hotel manager.
“It is really important to have the right product,” Ryan said. “The paint you need is different depending on what you are doing. Window painting requires a special paint that will not damage the glass, that is durable to the elements and is easy to wash off when you are finished.”
She worked as a face painter and window painter for years in Ohio before relocating to the area. She said she chose to live in East Tennessee because it was an “artsy” area.
“There are so many festivals and fairs that happen here,” she said. “I worked at so many this summer my head is still spinning.”
Ryan doesn’t limit her window decorating skills to just Christmas. She said she can paint window scenes for any holiday or occasion.

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