Sitting on the floor Wednesday afternoon inside the Carson Mall, Sean Crawford used a razor blade on the manager's window to scrape off his first attempt at painting a train.
"I should never have to scrape," said Crawford, "but it's got to be absolutely right before I'm done."
If necessity is the mother of invention, it must also be the mother of ingenuity.
When Crawford couldn't find work in the capital city after moving here in October with his sister and her three young children from Fallon, he posted an Internet ad saying he would paint store windows. Though he had painted murals or his windows at home as a hobby, Crawford earned a living as a cook.
The first ad went up before Thanksgiving, and his first job was the Carson Mall.
Then he started to pound the pavement, going from business to business asking if they wanted their windows painted.
By Wednesday, his assistant and sister Sunny Crawford guessed they must have painted 1,000 holiday scenes for businesses across the city, from the Cracker Box to SlotWorld.
"We sort of fell into it," Crawford said with a smile and shrug that seemed apologetic. "I'm not sure how it happened, but I'd like to try to parlay it into a full-time job."
Sunny said they thought the money would help supplement any employment they found. Now they are making enough to survive.
"We were getting backed up on bills when the jobs started coming in," she said.
Crawford said he had no idea what to charge for the jobs he bid, so he "winged it."
And for every scene they paint, the price includes a return visit to clean the windows off.
"You have to do that," said Sunny.
The irony, noted Crawford, is that he and his sister were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't celebrate any holidays, including Christmas.
But for Sunny, that point is moot.
The work came in just in time to save their sinking ship.
"It was a Christmas blessing," she said.