ROGERSVILLE — Mayor Richard Herston said one of his favorite scenes involves seeing the bend in the river as the canoe sits peacefully at a pier.
“It seems like you can just step off into the canoe. It looks so real,” Herston said.
The scene depicting the river and the rolling, green hillsides and tall pine trees reaching skyward is not at Joe Wheeler State Park or the Tennessee River. It’s a mural being painted on the side of a building in Rogersville.
The artwork is being done by Lexington native Joel Hill.
“It’s awesome,” Herston said.
The mural can be seen by motorists because it is located a block from U.S. 72.
“It’s something that will catch people’s eye and hopefully make them want to stop and spend time with us,” the mayor said.
Hill has been working on the mural, which is on a building owned by Bob and Barbara Ingram and used to store items for Barbara’s Wedding Shop, for more than two weeks. It has already become a conversation piece for downtown visitors.
“I guess I’m part of a dying breed,” Hill said. “A lot of work like this is computer generated in a shop and then put on the building. I do it with paint and a brush.”
Hill said the mural will depict the town. One of the most enticing offerings for Rogersville is its access to the Tennessee River and Elk River.
“Naturally, a water scene is going to be a major part of this,” Hill said.
The scene also ties the lakes in with Joe Wheeler State Park, another of the area’s assets.
Herston said members of the Rogersville Chamber of Commerce and town officials came up with the idea.
“We looked at some photos and then consulted with the building owner and let Mr. Hill get started,” Herston said.
Hill said the first step was providing basic background with the sky.
“Then I went to work on the rest of the scene. I have to paint a while and then back off to see what little details that can really enhance the painting.”
Hill said he started doing murals in school.
“I’ve done some backdrops for school functions and worked for a poster company. And I’ve done things for churches and restaurants, but I primarily had been in the sign business. This is a little different, but murals are fun to paint.”
Herston said he catches himself going by the building just about every day to see what has been added.
“It’s really amazing to see what (Hill) has done, and to think he does it all by freehand,” Herston said. “I’m anxious to see it when he’s done. It’s already drawing a lot of attention. I know it’s going to be everyone in town can enjoy and be proud of.”
Hill plans to have the mural completed later this week.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.