Journal of 100 Miles

Celebrating the communities and culture along the 100 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee.

Leave a comment

Tommy Thompson – Plein Air Artist

There are winding roads neighboring the Natchez Trace Parkway where Tommy Thompson can be found capturing his surroundings.  “I always want to know what’s around the bend,” he says, as he loves to discover new places with his wife, Marie.  For this plein air artist, around the bend is a few more miles of the unknown and endless possibilities.  When finding that perfect spot, where sunlight dances on the fields, he’ll pull out his easel and, like a poet putting words to paper, brush paint to canvas of a peaceful landscape and unsuspecting subjects.

Thompson’s impressionistic style with a play on light and color creates a tranquil display of a rural environment along with elements that “give life” to his art.  Horses and children are among his specialty. “With both you have to stay with them long enough for them to get accustomed to you, when they finally get quiet and move away from you, you can get a natural painting.”

The former architectural and commercial illustrator turned painter has been featured in numerous publications and solo exhibitions throughout the south and has studied under top painters like Kevin McPherson, Roger Dale Brown and Jason Saunders.  A labor of love, to be a painter, he will declare, “You have to work at it every day, never stop painting.”

Inspired by the Tennessee’s hillsides, his work here includes Dream Acres, Hillside Horses and Southern Light.  Left, Tommy paints with equine friend Sedona.  This picture was published in the Winter 2008 issue of Horses in Art Magazine.

To inquire about Tommy Thompson artwork, please visit and tell them sent you.

August 2009

Leave a comment

J.B. Hollis Shares History

Exiting off the Natchez Trace at mile marker 355 in Collinwood, a large sign hangs with a warm and personal, “Welcome.”  Just past this greeting on the main avenue is the Wayne County Visitors Center and Museum, a place visitors can be greeted by the pleasant smiles of volunteers, coffee and brownies and a mayor in overalls full of historical knowledge.

One special volunteer here is J.B. Hollis, 89, who grew up in Wayne County, as did his parents and grandparents.  A young adult in the 1940’s, J.B. tried registering for the military, but was turned down due to a bad eye, and instead, was found in war-supporting jobs.  Most notably, he worked as part of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN, a place so secret at the time that the state governor was unaware that Oak Ridge was even being built.  Joining hundreds of workers, whose responsibilities were unknown even to themselves, it turned out they were building the atomic bomb.  “Nobody knew what we were doing until they dropped the bomb,” declares Hollis.

A certificate sits on display in the main hall of the welcome center dated August 6, 1945 and reads:   “US War Department, Army Service Forces Corps of Engineers – Awarded to J.B. Hollis – For his participation in work essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of WWII.”

Along with his love of the outdoors, J.B. enjoys recollections of family history and growing up in the county he admires so much.  His roots go back to the Civil War where his mother’s grandfather was a Captain in the Union army and his father’s grandfather a Confederate soldier.   His favorite part of volunteering at the welcome center is, “Meeting the nicest people from all over the world,” claims the good-natured resident.   As I could see by the gleam in his eye, I think his favorite part is sharing his delightful stories.

Pictured: (Top Right) J.B. Hollis

(Below Top) Collinwood’s Mayor, Jasper Brewer, sits atop an old family tractor, and his wife, Terry, (Below Bottom) playing the dulcimer.

Visit or give the Welcome Center a call at 931.724.4337.