Joel Boyd, a Little Rock based artist, has finished the second of three murals for Hope Downtown and is getting ready to start up on the third
Boyd has been working as a fine art painter for over ten years and was first contacted about the paintings by Chamber of Commerce Director Beckie Moore.
“She let me know about the project and that they were taking submissions so I put together a submission with some designs and a little bit of an application and a write-up of what I foresaw in the project and then they voted on it,” Boyd said.
The project consist of three different murals all 9-feet-by-12-feet with the first being over Paul Klipsch, the inventor of Klipsch Speakers who was a native of Hope.
“At the onset of the project, the board with Hope Downtown Network kind of had a few big subjects that they wanted to feature in the design,” Boyd said. “I had no idea about Klipsch Speakers or Paul Klipsch or anything so it was all new to me. I kind of started doing some digging and I looked into the history with Klipsch, Hope and the company to try to to familiarize myself with all things Paul W. Klipsch. After doing the research, I sort of assembled what I thought would be a worthy sort of tribute to him and his work.”
The second mural, which he just finished working on, features what Hope is probably most known for: Watermelons.
“I tried to learn as much as I could and talked to Beckie Moore about the record watermelons,” he said. “I now understand that the Bright Family is well known for their watermelons and they hold those records. We decided to kind of feature that segment on their melons and the world records.”
While working on the project, Boyd actually had the opportunity to meet Lloyd Bright himself.
“He came down to the mural while I was working one day,” Boyd said. “He came down early in the morning before it got too hot and he just wanted to meet me. We shook hands and he showed his appreciation for my work and that he really appreciated it. It was great to meet him, he’s a really nice guy.”
The third and final segment of the mural will focus on the wildlife here in Hope.
“The last one is just kind of a tribute to Hope and Hempstead County as a great destination for hunting, fishing, and wildlife,” he said. “That mural will feature someone fishing, a deer in the scene, some pine trees, and Arkie the Alligator, which was something new to me as well. Kind of a lot of things to do with outdoor life in that last scene.”
Arkie the Alligator was an alligator found in Hempstead County in 1952 that, at a weight of 500 lbs, was the largest alligator found in the entire Western Hemisphere until 2005.
Working in the over 100 degree summer heat of Southern Arkansas, it took about a week for Boyd to create the first two murals.
“The Paul Klipsch segment took the longest because it has a lot of really crisp lines with the lettering but also obviously the portrait of Klipsch was something I had to take my time on,” he said. “That was probably the most time consuming piece.”
The last mural, however, should only take a few days to finish according to Boyd.
“The last one will go even faster than the first two because the drawing itself is pretty straight forward, it’s just filling in color for me so not a lot of time careful rendering or anything,” he said.
Boyd has a laid out process that he uses that goes into making each mural come to life.
“The process for me was to start out with a design in a sketch after I did research on all of the different subjects that are involved win the mural,” he said. “Once I got a sketch together I made a more formal design in photoshop so that I could print it out digitally but to also have a color image to work with throughout the painting process. I used my drawing to cast my design onto the wall with a projector so that I can trace out all the lines and have that in place so that I can focus on the painting.”
Growing up in the town of Rector, a small town of less than 2,000 people in Northeast Arkansas, Boyd says that he’s enjoyed working in the community of Hope because it reminds him of home.
“It’s been great,” he said. “Lots of people have come down and honked their horn or waved and told me that they love the murals and are glad I’m doing this. Someone said I wish I could paint the whole town. It’s been very good. Everyone’s been very kind and supportive. It’s been a great experience.”
Chamber of Commerce Director Beckie Moore is very pleases with the work Boyd has done.
“What a blessing it has been to get to know muralist Joel Boyd,” she said. “His talents and skills are quite evident in viewing the mural frames in place at this time. We are looking forward to the third frame in the ‘Journey of Hope’ mural project. The conclusion of the mural project will come in the form of a community celebration. Representatives from the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism will join us for the special occasion.”