The SOAC Mural Art…Start to Finish


10 Artists, 11 Days, 1 Incredible Work of Art!!

Wow!! What an incredible adventure this turned out to be, for the Outdoor Adventure Center and the town of Smyrna, AND our growing artist group, the Smyrna Artist Cooperative.


When Co-op member, Susan Gulley ( Carpe Café/ Carpe Artista ) initially presented this opportunity to the group in one of our monthly meetings, I honestly had some reservations on how a group mural may turn out. Although we have a lot of talent within the membership. Obviously we are all completely different styles of artist.. I for one am proud of how this team pulled together and accomplished the mission at hand with a depth and cohesion that appears as if it had been done for the most part solo.

The Place

The Smyrna Outdoor Adventure Center is located at 100 Sam Ridley Pky E. Within the remodeled Smyrna Event Center.


Opening in the spring of 2017


The Artists

From left to right: Phyllis Razzo, Leah Boorse, David Fultz, Jimbo Eanes,  Charles Cole, Suzanne  LeBeau,  Susan Gulley , Larissa Reed , Anna Creel, Gracie Jay Vanlangen



The Art In Progress

Day 1

It began on Saturday morning at 9am. The 17th of Feb. Working from Phyllis Razzo’s initial watercolor sketch that she composed from a handful of hiking photos and google animals. The idea was to do a woods and water theme which included Tennessee state specific animals, flowers and trees. An education room as it is, the mural would be used as a teaching aid.


As Phyllis and I began sketching out the shape of the water and the general placement of things. Larissa jumped into the sky color while Susan planted a large corner tree.

The day continued with Charles giving a basecoat to the dirt and deciding where some rocks would live. While Leah and her daughter Rocksea began shading the water, Larissa continues the sky.




End of Day 1

Day 2


It was an incredible experience for me to watch everyone attack different areas, and how quickly this scene started to look like something. So much vision and understanding in what they see.


Day 3 and 4

Unfortunately for me I missed out on the fun due to work . But was amazed to see how many things had “grown” while I was away As Phyllis, Susan, Leah, Suzzanne and Larissa kept painting away.


Day 5

By day 5 we had enough of a foundation for the animals to begin showing up.

13 year old Anna Creel brought a nice raccoon to the scene. One of Larissa’s art students, this child gets it!! I saw her artwork in the first Smyrna Art Crawl  last year and I could not believe the drawing ability of a 12 year old. I’m glad we had the chance to include her on this project and hope it encourages her towards bigger things in her future art career.



Suzanne paints as I search for the right shade of SmallMouth Bass color



Day 6

Progress continues and it’s really coming together quite beautifully


At this stage, the background trees have a nice shape and shadow. Larissa has the depth of our forest coming together and I’m getting really anxious for that white extinguisher box to disappear. 🙂

The Next 3 Days

Red tailed Hawk Referenced from the wildlife photos of Bob Timmerman, of Wizardpix Photography fame. Big Thank you to Bob for all the inspiring work! We could fill the wall with your birds and animal photos.






Ahhh, Much better 🙂 What a difference it made to the entire scene when ( former Artist Cooperative President ) Jimbo Eanes came in to work his magic and made this unsightly box disappear into the hole in the tree.
Thanks to another one of Larissa’s art students… 16 year old Gracie brought us a nice coyote to sit near my rattlesnake. I love to see young artist involved!!   And I love the touch added in the distant dark of lightning bugs. This group has thought of everything.!

One thing that amazed me with this group, which turned out to be 10 in all. Was the ability to work together cohesively like we had done it before. Though we started with a sketch and a general direction. Several beautifully creative minds and a lot of “what if we did this?”‘s later it just all came together. It isn’t always easy to do that with artists and their singular visions, Where I may be weak they picked up and vice versa . I could start an animal and come back to it finished , and it worked! A very enriching process to say the least!

Wrapping it up



IMG_0879 (2)


This could have went on for weeks, refining and adding detail, But at some point you have to call it done. There are over 30, State of Tennessee symbols, flowers, animals, or state specific items included in this educational wall, Including a Saber-tooth tiger fossil, and representations of thousands year old Native American artifacts found here by a collector friend of mine.  I think collectively as artists , we are all very pleased with the end result. Something bigger than any of us individually. Not only did we succeed in giving the town of Smyrna exactly what they asked for, I believe, together, we exceeded expectations. The best part of this journey for me though is that I think we all became a little more of an art family through this process. We laughed together, and shared some music. (Sorry if you didn’t like it, lol)  Scratched our heads and wondered together , We were inspired together . As Vice President of the Smyrna Artist Cooperative, THAT was worth the trip!


Included in our signature rock is a Cherokee pictograph , the symbol for “WE” as arrowhead artifacts lie near the waters edge. The hand print (painted in purple for Smyrna) reminiscent of the painted war ponies, signifies Success. Mission Accomplished!!

Well Done Team! I cant say enough about each and every one who came together to make this happen in 254 combined man hours. May the children of Smyrna enjoy it for years to come!


The Smyrna Artist Cooperative meets monthly to promote art and opportunities for artists. Feel free to contact me for more details!




3 thoughts on “The SOAC Mural Art…Start to Finish

  1. This was a precious process – I “wrangle” with creative minds, personalities and ideas every day of every week at Carpe Artista. It can be tedious at times, enlightening at others and a learning experience always. This Team of Artists gave their volunteer hours willingly and were excited to see what was going to come alive on that very blank, white wall. A gift to our Town – and a new family of friends was born in this short, almost, two weeks. We are honored to share it with generations of learners to come. This might have been able to be accomplished by one person, but why when you can make a positive change in our community and culture by working together and making something bigger and longer lasting then ourselves?! Thanks everyone for sharing your talents and visions – I’d do this again with this Team any day, any time! Changing our world one creative moment at a time~Susan

    Liked by 1 person

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