Mural marks start to holiday season |

Mural marks start to holiday season

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

For 23 years the holiday season didn’t officially begin for many in Coalville until local artist Camille Vernon painted a Christmas scene on the window at the Summit Furniture and Merc Co.

"Everybody waits for it and it’s just a tradition now," Vernon said. "Usually, I just paint Santa Claus."

But the 38-year-old Hoytsville native might have outdone herself this year.

"People say, ‘thank you. It’s beautiful; you don’t know how that makes me feel when I drive by.’"

The owners of the grocery store on Main Street commissioned Vernon to paint the festive mural to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Summit Merc in March.

"I know I’ve done well when I get a tear," Vernon said.

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The painting features a snowy, idyllic, old fashioned mercantile, flanked by a church, horses and a wagon.

Vernon said the Christmas mural is usually painted on the store the day after Thanksgiving. But this year she spent nearly 11 hours Nov. 26 and 27 painting with acrylic latex on the outside of the window.

"You get to know the history just by the people coming out and watching you paint," she said. "I never knew that a picture on a window could bring joy."

Decades ago the Summit Merc was a hub for scurrying Christmas shoppers in eastern Summit County, Vernon explained, adding that the design was on a Christmas card received by Coalville brothers Jim and Spug Blonquist, who own the grocery store.

"A couple sent us a Christmas card last year and one of the ladies who works here said we ought to have Camille paint that on the window next year because it would be our 100th anniversary," Spug Blonquist said. "We wanted her to do something a little different and everybody likes it. They say it’s the best one that she’s ever done."

According to Vernon, "it’s really neat for me because whenever I paint outside in Summit County, I always run into someone and they always come and talk to me."

"I’ve been so fortunate because I get to go do what I passionately love every day," said Vernon, who painted her first Christmas window when she was 15 years old. "They know me as the little gal who paints the window and you can’t have a better job than me."

The single mother of two usually makes her living painting inside homes. But Vernon touted three pieces she painted at the indoor rodeo arena in Oakley.

Oakley resident Dutch Woolstenhulme died a few days before she rendered his and Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme as rodeo pickup men.

Vernon is also proud of her paintings at the arena of Lewis Field, a rodeo champion from South Summit and brothers Leon and Ile Wilde.

She has also painted portraits for former Summit County Commissioners Shauna Kerr and Sheldon Richins.

"I meet the neatest people and they are so honored that you are painting them," Vernon said. "To me it’s not just about rendering a person, if I can paint something that you can actually get a feeling from of how the person was, then I have done something."