Five Minutes, Five Questions: Jody Travis Thompson

Five Minutes, Five Questions: Jody Travis Thompson

“I first saw Jody Travis Thompson’s work through social media,” says Eureka Springs artist Zeek Taylor. “I was immediately impressed. It seemed evident to me that he had been trained in the classic style. What I found intriguing about his work was how skillfully he combined that style with the abstract. I continued to follow him online while hoping that someday I could exhibit his work at the First National Bank of NWA in Bentonville where I serve as the art director. When I approached Jody about showing in the bank exhibition that is now hanging, he immediately said, ‘Yes’ — and when he delivered his paintings to the bank, I found his work to be even grander when seen in person compared to online. This guy is definitely one to watch.”

Thompson answered these five questions for What’s Up!

Q. What’s the first memory you have of art making an impression on you and making you want to create? How did that early experience inspire you to pursue art?

I grew up in Sulphur, La. The first memory I have of a painted image was a small paint-by-number my mama did of a bayou scene. Other than that, it was always known that, even as a small child, if you wanted to keep me busy, just give me a piece of paper and something to draw with. I started watching Bob Ross on Saturday mornings when I was around 8 or 9 years old. After getting paint all over my carpet in my bedroom, Mama enrolled me in a weekly painting class in town with Jane Ludwig Johnson.

Q. What was that journey like? Did you go to college to study art? Did you pursue art in other ways?

“The opportunity to show with so many amazing artists at the First National Bank show exposes my work to the many people who do not frequently attend art openings in gallery spaces,” says Fayetteville artist Jody Travis Thompson. (Courtesy Image)

I painted with Mrs. Johnson for about eight years. Three years into an accounting degree, I switched over to the Fine Arts Department at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La. I received my BA from McNeese in 1996. Before I switched majors, I always kept an active sketchbook and continued to draw and paint on my own.

Q. How did you come to Northwest Arkansas? What does the support of the regional art scene mean to you?

After living up on the East Coast for around 20 years, I decided I wanted a new experience with my painting practice. I applied at various MFA programs in the Northeast as well as at the University of Arkansas. The amazing art community, Crystal Bridges, and the amount of funding that was provided by the School of Art at the UA convinced me to accept the offer to study here. I received my MFA from the UA in 2019. I have stayed on teaching at the UA and have my painting studio up at Creative Spaces on Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville. The support of the local art community in Fayetteville is crucial to my well-being as an artist. We artists spend many hours alone in our own studio spaces creating, and it is important to be able to have conversations with artists other than ourselves!

Q. Describe your work and your process? What do you hope viewers see in your work?

My formal training in undergrad focused for the most part on formal principles of realism in drawing and painting. I worked like this for many years until enrolling in the master’s program at the UA. There I shifted my process from painting from observation to focusing on material-driven abstraction for three years. My process now has returned to figurative painting while looking for ways that I can abstract the space of the figure. I hope that the viewer will take their time when looking at the work. I would hope that they feel some sort of connection with me while still having space to have their own views and experiences of what the work means to them.

Q. Where do you see yourself as an artist in five years? Ten?

I will be painting until the day I die. In five years, I hope to have secured a studio tenure-track position somewhere in the South. Past that, I only know that no matter what, I will be painting.



Digital Paintings, Drawings, Oils & Photography

WHAT — Digital paintings by Janalee Robison, drawings by Vincent Reynolds, oils by Jody Travis Thompson and photography by Edward C. Robison III

WHEN — Through Jan. 15

WHERE — Bentonville Branch of the First National Bank of NWA, 402 S.W. A St. in Bentonville

COST — Free; some works are for sale

INFO — Email bank art director Zeek Taylor at

Categories: Galleries