What started out as a way for Theresa Kasun to make some extra holiday money right out of grad school 26 years ago ended up being an annual freelance gig that has lasted to this day.

And the longtime Shelton resident would not have it any other way.

“I’m so happy that these paintings bring people joy,” said Kasun, a licensed artist who has had her top-selling artistic designs on various products, such as oven mitts, hand towels and other household materials, sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and other major retailers.

“I love the fact that these paintings provide some uplifting feelings for people during the holiday season,” added Kasun.

Kasun has been painting original Christmas designs on the windows of pizzerias, pastry shops, diners, and countless other small businesses throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

Her background as a classically trained artist gives her the ability to paint life size Santas, elves, and anything else a business owner would like painted on their windows. Her window painting includes other holidays; Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and even Super Bowl windows.

Kasun, born and raised in Omaha, Neb., was attending graduate school at New York Academy of Arts and living in Wlliamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., when a stop in the neighborhood gathering spot, Fortunato Brothers Cafe, led to the annual job that has become a Christmas staple.

At the time, Fortunato's used large cardboard Christmas pictures to cover the some 20 windows that went ceiling to floor and bring some holiday cheer. Kasun said one day, while she sat and enjoyed some food and drink, her friend who was dining with her decided to remove one of the cardboard cutouts and ask one of the owners why he would use this cardboard picture when there was an artist sitting in his shop who could create beautiful pictures right on the glass.

The rest is history. Kasun took the gig, first drawing the pictures in black on the glass, then coloring the pictures using acrylic paints.

“It is like stained glass … you can see on the inside and the outside,” said Kasun.

From there, Kasun neighboring businesses saw the beauty of the window pieces and came calling. And the exposure has increased her Christmas season clientele to some 29 different businesses.

For larger numbers of windows, such as Fortunato's, she blocks out a couple days to complete the work. But, on average, she said she has become so proficient with her painting skills that she can complete two small businesses in one day.

“I really like brightening people’s lives during the holidays,” said Kasun. “I never expected it to turn out like this, but it is really wonderful.”