News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Signs of the season

CARLSBAD — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas thanks to Alli Thoeni who’s busy painting the town.
The muralist has been collaborating with the Carlsbad Village Business Association the last few weeks in creating festive storefront windows to draw visitors into the village for the holidays.
First stop this year was the New Village Arts Theatre on State Street where Laura Kurner contracted Thoeni to design a mural touting a presentation of “SantaLand Diaries” by humorist David Sedaris from Dec. 10 to Dec. 23.
Kurner greeted Thoeni with cartoons she found of some rather mischievous looking elves to capture the mood of the adult comedy which is about an unemployed actor who becomes a Macy’s elf in order to pay holiday bills.
Thoeni went to work producing several outdoor scenes centered around the elves.
“Alli takes what I give her and makes it so beautiful,” Kurner said. “She creates a special ambience which is great for business since it positions the village as a shopping destination.”
Thoeni began painting in 1980 after graduating from San Clemente High School. She was recruited by the Capistrano Unified School District to paint lettering on buses, a contract that continued for 10 years. Her first gig painting holiday windows was for her orthodontist.
After earning a certificate in graphic design from Saddleback College she continued for two more years at Los Angeles Trade Tech studying sign design.
It wasn’t long before she got major contracts, painting holiday windows at Newport Plaza and the Mesa Verde Plaza.
“It was nice because of the challenge to create consistency among all the stores,” she said. “I did a lot of lettering of Christmas carol lyrics in the snow.”
Thoeni says 95 percent of her business is referral. Pricing is determined by the design. The less expensive designs are wreathes and snow banks with a sprig of holly in the corner. Pricier designs are usually Christmas trees, hanging ornaments and Santa Claus.
“I try to keep the work looking elegant by using a lot of metallic paints like gold and silver,” she said. “I use water-based exterior house paint with a flat finish. It’s easy to remove afterwards by moistening the paint and scraping it off.”
Thoeni has been painting holiday windows in Carlsbad and Oceanside for about three years. She says her work is usually completed by Dec. 15 although it’s gone as late as Dec. 20.
“I enjoy being outside and meeting people as they get into the spirit,” she said. “This is not so much about the commercial aspect of my business as it is ‘the reason for the season.’”
Although her year-round business painting faux finishes and murals has been dwindling, Thoeni expects to be busy after the holidays.
“The way the economy is, I’m doing more sign painting,” she said. “There is a lot of demand for ‘Going Out of Business’ and ‘Everything Must Go’ signs. A lot of furniture stores are calling.”
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1 comment

Ginnie Johnson December 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Hey, Allison! I remember you from SCHS. I got a Google Alert about “local news” and was happy to recognize someone I knew! Glad to see you’re doing what you love!

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