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Tull mentors next generation of McNairy County artist

Molly Weatherford works hard on her mural in the heat of summer. She hopes to have it finished sometime in November. Staff Photo by Emily Pitts

Molly Weatherford, a senior at McNairy Central High School, has always been an artist. So, when the McNairy Central Band Boosters asked her if she would be willing to paint a trailer for the band, she knew just what her senior project would be.

She began drafting plans to make the trailer, which is used for storage on the band field, into a large art piece.

“I chose this project because I knew it would be a huge learning stretch.  I wouldn’t call it graffiti since I have permission....so I guess it’s just a mural,” said Weatherford.

Brain Tull, McNairy County native and creator of the Rockabilly Highway Mural, was the first person who came to her mind to be a mentor.

“My goal is to help Molly understand all the challenges and finally fulfillment of working on a large-scale painting,” said Tull. “The Rockabilly Highway Mural in 2009 was my largest painting and biggest challenge with its proportions. Here, Molly is choosing a gigantic project right off, which is very exciting. When you work on a painting as large as what Molly is doing, it takes a lot of focus to continually be alert of the proportions you’re dealing with. Molly’s going to do fine with it. She understands it, and she’s a very talented person.”

At the end of last school year, Weatherford began taking pictures of band students in uniform to be her inspiration for the mural. She then printed them onto transparency forms and used a simple overhead projector to project the images onto the trailer. She is using exterior latex paint to create the piece.

“I’ve been consulting Molly in the beginning stages with the first steps of prepping (literally) for a project like this. I’ve given her some tips
on image preparation as well,” said Tull. “It takes
a ton of work, especially on outdoor art pieces, just to get it ready for the paint. I’ve also
helped her with suggestions about transferring the images onto the piece and minimal

 Weatherford is excited to have Tull as her mentor. “He has been an awesome mentor, even though he lives in Nashville, emailing me tips and meeting with me whenever he comes home,” she said. “He even helped sketch out one of the larger pictures on the trailer.” 

Weatherford has been in band for four years and says that it is like having a second family. “I wanted to leave something behind for future band members to see and to remember the class of 2012 by,” said Weatherford. 

She started the project earlier than normal for senior projects, in late June, because of the limited time she would have during the busy band season to work on the project. She hopes to have it finished sometime in November.

“I think it’s a privilege to work with another creative talent. Especially someone just getting introduced to a project of this size,” said Tull. “I’m sure she could have chosen a simpler project. By choosing such a project as this, you can be sure she’ll prosper in the arts and let us see her talent...After she completes this big project, she can do anything.”

Weatherford plans to continue with her art, as she always has, by being an art major when she goes to college next year.

As for Tull, his artwork will soon be appearing on PBS’s Music Voyager. Beginning season three, Music Voyager will be driving across the great Music Highway, Interstate 40 from Bristol through Nashville, all the way to Memphis, filming the state of Tennessee, the music, culture, adventures, cuisines, people and the gorgeous Tennessee countryside for a global broadcast of three episodes focused on the musical heartland of America.

 For all Music Voyager episodes, a guitar case is painted by a local artist in the filming region to carry out the theme of that particular show. Brian Tull was asked to join the team for “Music Highway Tennessee” to paint the crew guitar case with his vision of “Music Highway.” Filming for the show will begin this month.

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