Thompson’s Holiday Pane-tings

Published 11:38 am Saturday, December 2, 2023

Kayla Snow Thompson and her acrylic paints will be a fixture in downtown LaFayette this holiday season. Thompson is the painter behind many of LaFayette businesses’ Christmas window designs.

Thompson has become a favorite in LaFayette. Passersby may have seen her work at Gimme Some Sugar & Coffee Auburn Opelika Dentist and Lowes Pharmacy, among many others.

Thompson grew up around artists, saying her brother and mother are the real talents in the family. When she and her daughters moved to LaFayette, Thompson decided to get back into art, specifically drawing. After gifting some of the teachers at her daughter’s school, Chambers Academy, with her work, the staff asked if she would volunteer as an art teacher for the students. 

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Thompson said it’s been a whirlwind since then. She still teaches at the school, but now has a booth at Gimme Some Sugar and holds sip-and-paint parties around the community. Thompson noticed a couple of window paintings in the spring and asked LaFayette Nutrition if she could give it a shot on their front windows. Thompson has so far done 13 paintings for businesses entered in the Christmas competitions. 

“Everybody’s so kind, and I mean, sometimes I’m like I would do it for free just from the compliments; people walking in and out and the joy it brings [to people],” Thompson said.

Thompson and her three daughters, Lindsay, Zoey and Adele Snow, moved to LaFayette from their home near Fort Benning four years ago. After her late husband died by suicide, the family decided they needed a fresh start and rented a friend’s house in LaFayette. 

Thompson speaks of her experience openly, saying she is an “open book.” She hopes talking publicly will bring awareness to PTSD and the prevalence of veteran suicide. 

A few months after his passing, Thompson was in a major car accident, leading to several surgeries that led to a titanium vertebra and cage holding her spine. Occasionally, she needs to pause a design because the cold or overwork causes back and neck pain. 

Though Thompson has been through a lot in the past few years, the painter spoke primarily of gratitude. 

“I’m blessed to be here. And I’m thankful to the community for all their support and love. It’s nice getting paid to do what you love,” she said.

Thompson hopes her pursuing art inspires her daughters, adding, “They are so much of my inspiration and love.”

Window paintings and decorations have become a trend in LaFayette. Mainstreet LaFayette puts on multiple window design competitions a year, usually for holidays. For Christmas, businesses are going all out both on the LaFayette square and in surrounding areas. Facebook users can go to the LaFayette Main Street page and vote for their favorite display on Dec. 15. The post with the most likes will win and be announced at Hometown Christmas on the Square the following day.

“[The competition] is really to draw attention to our downtown businesses and businesses and merchants. We want people to get out and walk and enjoy downtown with it. It’s such a beautiful atmosphere and environment,” said DeAnna Hand, executive director of LaFayette Main Street.

The Greater Valley Area Chambers of Commerce (GVACC) is also having their second annual window decorating contest. The participating businesses registered with the chamber are from all over the area, LaFayette included. The GVACC will have three winning categories: Best Overall, Most Creative, and Most Whimsical. Once the Chamber Ambassadors vote on the winners, each one will receive $100 cash and be posted on the Chamber Facebook page on Dec. 14.

As for Thompson, she is still making her way through all her Christmas jobs. She said she hopes to do a few New Years designs as well as various holidays in 2024. The Chambers Academy students will continue to get lessons from the artist, as well as her sip-and-paint attendees. For more of her work, check out her business Facebook page, Thompson & Co.