ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Huddled in her New York City studio during an isolated COVID-19 summer, an artist delved into the mind of a famous illustrator who lived in Rock Hill more than seven decades ago.

Jill Pratzon, art restorer and illustrator, wanted to capture the quirky characters Rock Hill illustrator Vernon Grant created from the 1930s through the ’50s, and she needed to do it in a big way.

Pratzon was tasked with creating a 30-foot-by-90-foot mural depicting Grant’s work. He’s best known for the famous Rice Krispies Snap! Crackle! and Pop! characters. But there is much more — gnomes, Santa Claus, the locally well-known Glen the Frog and his girl Glenda (Come-See-Me Festival mascots).

Scenes with the characters now unfold on the side of the York County Library in Rock Hill. They inch around to the backside of the building near the City Hall amphitheater, where you’ll see Santa scale a rock wall with a rope, his gnomes hoisting presents from his sleigh to a castle at the top.

Pratzon said she wanted to stay with Grant’s original style. She became familiar with Grant’s work while repairing a painting he made of a gnome making a candle. She was hired to remove tiny shards of glass from the artwork and restore the paint.

She escaped into his mind, she said.

“In my restoration work, I have to channel another artist, but usually it’s just a little bit of missing paint, little tiny details, but this was full-on immersion,” Pratzon said about the mural. “I was doing all-nighters in my studio all summer, just really living in his head as much as I could.”

Pratzon said she was asked to do the project but initially said ‘no’ because “I am too far away and I don’t really climb walls.”

Part of the mural depicts a black-and-white figure of Grant painting Glen the Frog. One of the Snap! Crackle! and Pop! characters pours milk into a bowl of cereal between two large library windows that have cottage roofs. Another character scales the side of a window.

A giant Glen the Frog plays a stringed instrument while serenading Glenda, who is listening from a castle window. Two gnomes hang a Come-See-Me Festival sign and a third gnome cleans a ChristmasVille sign. ChristmasVille is Rock Hill’s annual holiday festival.

Pratzon said she appreciates Grant’s artistic style and methods.

“It’s crazy how much time he put in and he would just, I can see it… I can see him grabbing colors and mixing them just to do an outline,” she said. “So it’s this amazing combination of drawing and really understanding color all at the same time.”

Plus, she said, she had to use the signature yellow gloves that Santa wears in Grant’s illustrations.

Osiris Rain, a Charlotte, North Carolina, based muralist who trained in Italy and Norway, completed the mural in mid-October.

Pratzon sent Rain high-resolution photos of her original artwork of the mural, which he referenced when painting the scenes.

“I wanted to give him enough detail to reproduce them and how he transferred it is a mystery to me,” she said.

Rain said the mural creates a sense of place and history.

“The mural is taking a lot of motifs and stylistic renderings of Vernon Grant’s and reinterpreting them into a different narrative that works for the building itself, highlighting a lot of his key parts of his artistic career, including ChristmasVille and a number of other events that happen here in Rock Hill,” Rain said.

Rain completed another mural on the West White Street warehouses two years ago.

The Vernon Grant mural is the newest project for Rock Hill’s “Mural Mile,” which is an effort to install about 10 murals on various city buildings or streets. The murals are within a mile of downtown.

Pratzon said she will bring her original 5.5-feet-tall paintings of the mural to Rock Hill when she visits in late November, where they will be on display and put up for sale.

Pratzon said she put her “heart and soul” in the project.

“It’s been very quiet up here, as you might imagine, since the pandemic, so this was a wonderful place to escape to,” she said.

Grant studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of California and worked in New York City before moving to Rock Hill with his wife Elizabeth after World War II. The “Ladies Home Journal,” weekly satirical magazine “Judge,” and “Collier’s” magazine featured his work and he designed illustrations for major corporations.

After moving to Rock Hill, Grant worked as a farmer and was director of the Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s. He co-founded the Come-See-Me Festival, a 10-day ode to Spring. Rock Hill’s 16-year-old ChristmasVille also celebrates his work.

He was the city’s first director of public housing and worked in urban renewal, where he helped establish the then-new Rock Hill library at 138 E. Black Street, where the new mural now depicts his art.

Grant’s artwork also is displayed at the Museum of York County and the Lowenstein Building. The Children’s Museum on Main Street in Rock Hill is designed around Grant’s artwork.

Grant died in 1990 after living more than 40 years in York County.

Chip Grant, Vernon Grant’s son, said he watched Rain paint on many days. He said having his father’s artwork on display is a great tribute.

“I hope this will last a long time and introduce a lot of people who are not familiar with Vernon Grant to maybe look into his history and find out what all he did for Rock Hill and how he was involved in the community,” Chip Grant said.

Grant, 77, said he believes his father would be proud. “Like his pictures, he didn’t want them to go into the bottom drawer,” he said. “He wanted them to be out where they can be seen and displayed and people could enjoy it.”

Even after the artwork has been painted and dried, Pratzon said Vernon Grant is still in her head.

“That’s what I feel like I did all summer was just keep my head in that world and it was just a great place to be and I can’t quite pull myself out of it,” she said. “I just said to my husband, ‘I may be done with the mural, but I feel like Vernon’s not done with me.’”