Downtown deals 'three of a kind'

"Window painters bring the season to Little Norway with colorful art. POULSBO - They were at it again this week, spreading Christmas cheer throughout downtown Poulsbo not just with their pleasant dispositions and smiles, but with the strokes of their brushes as well. Those who didn't actively witness Gail Kimmel, Josie Heins and Donna Ballard painting away at storefront windows needn't worry though. Their colorful artwork will be on display throughout the season. The trio has a combined presence of roughly 60 years on the window decorating scene and Kimmel, who has 25 years under her brush, said it's the community that brings her back year after year. Half the fun is talking to all of our friends, she explained. We've been here so long we know all kinds of things about the town. Kimmel was using poster paint as she added another one-of-a-kind snow flake to the windows at The Treasure House. Such paint, she said, was best used inside or under some type of covering because it doesn't do so well in water. It's probably a little easier than acrylic to wash off, she said, imparting just some of her vast knowledge of paints. You don't have to scrape it off with a razor. When asked whether the group's skills had gotten any better over the years, Kimmel smiled in thought. I think we've probably improved over the years - we're just a little slower now, she remarked. Across the street at the Senior Lounge, Heins was busy touching up a hat on a picture of a merry little boy. I've been painting little moppets since 1965, she said, still working. Muppets? Where are Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo? No, moppets, Heins clarified, spelling it out. M-O-P-P-E-T-S. They're these little short people with big dimples. I never learned how to draw mouths so I just put dimples on them, she admitted. Heins' famous moppets (although not as famous as Jim Hensen's creations) have been dancing on local windows for some 30 years. While she prefers watercolors, Heins was using acrylic paints - which reportedly hold up better to adverse weather - as she worked on the window. I've gone back to my muffin tin, she explained, dabbing her brush in a glob of bright red paint before continuing her moppet. I bought a fancy pallet but it didn't work out as well. Standing back to admire her work, Heins took a smiling look at Front Street. This kind of thing is something not every town has, she remarked. Heins is one of the originals on the downtown painting scene and worked with local artists Annie Campbell and Margie Schmuck for a number of years. Many credit Schmuck for starting the long-lasting trend. She painted holiday window art until she was 70, finally putting down the brush after some 40 years, according to Kimmel. Up on Jensen Way, Donna Ballard is by far the new kid on the block. Adding some ruby red berries to a large picture of holly at Lindy's Floral and Gifts, Ballard - who has been giving Poulsbo its unique holiday flair for the past four years - was quick to point out that she hoped the art was something both locals and visitors enjoyed. We only do it for the town, she explained. Oh, we just love doing it. It's so much fun. "

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