Dressed in a messy pair of sweatpants, a construction shirt and a worn down Old Navy baseball cap, Deborah Camp meticulously blotted her paintbrush on the cartoon body of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer being merry with a snowman and a Santa Claus that she had just finished painting. She turned to acknowledge passers-by who recognized the work.
“Nice job,” one man said walking by with a shopping cart.
“Yeah, ya did!” a young woman said patting Camp on her arm and smiling.
A boy stopped to talk art with Camp as she cleaned her brushes.
It took about three hours to paint the front window of the Woodhaven Pharmacy on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 87th Street, only this is an easy job for her.
For Camp, who studied art at Bayside High School and Queens College, painting a window in her own neighborhood is the culmination of a long dream and a lot of hard work.
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to paint.”
Camp had worked as a cashier at a convenience store in Woodhaven and about a year ago left that job to begin painting windows for a living. She had been doing it outside of her normal job, but decided she should pursue it professionally full time. Since then she has done a number of panes around Queens and Brooklyn and works as a freelance artist.
Among the windows she’s painted are Pet Menu on Northern Boulevard in Auburndale, Five Burro Cafe and Belle Arti Center for the Arts in Forest Hills and New Park Pizza in Howard Beach, where she painted the Halloween/fall-themed scene before Hurricane Sandy. She’s also painted the windows of stores in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Some of her pieces have taken over a week to finish, including one in a children’s medical facility in Brooklyn.
Though she’s busy now painting holiday windows, Camp said her window-painting business takes a break after this month.
“There’s not much work in January,” she said. “Maybe someone will ask me to paint a winter scene or something, but my next big holiday is Valentine’s Day.”
She says the busiest time of year for her is springtime.
“Easter, spring scenes are popular,” she explained, “and the weather gets better, which makes it easier to paint.”
Though most of her paintings are done on the outside, she said she does paint the inside of some windows with scenes facing out, noting the difficulty in writing words backwards.
“I’ve mastered my name,” she said with a laugh.
On every painting she leaves her name and number — a calling card for future customers.
“It’s nice to be able to do this,” she said. “It brings some cheer to people. They come here to the pharmacy to get medicine because they are sick and hopefully they see this and it makes them feel a little better.”
Deborah Camp’s profile and contact info can be found at freelanced.com/deborahcamp.