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Scroll down to read article written in the Leaf Chronicle March 2007

Muralist and Artist
Clarksville, TN


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 Article In the Leaf Chronicle
Clarksville, Tennesse

California native Jill Dockins never thought she'd become a Tennessean — let alone a mural artist.

Now she's both, living in Sango where she creates stunning murals in beautiful blankets of color, contrast and creativity.   "I started my early years of college focusing on art, then decided I was too shy to 'sell' myself, so I went into teaching," she said.

Jill taught for 10 years, and had two children with husband James, also a teacher.

On summer breaks, the family traveled the country by RV and marveled at low housing costs outside California.

When Jill took a week-long "mommy break" in 2005, she chose Franklin because of a mural class there that she found online. She thought it would be fun, as well as an opportunity for professional development.

"I fell in love with the Franklin/Cool Springs area. I checked housing prices, and they were ridiculously lower than California," she said.

Back in California she told James, "I could move there," and that's just what they decided to do.

James applied for teaching positions around Nashville and got three job offers within a day. He flew to Tennesee, while Jill packed and sold their house.

The Dockins found several lovely Franklin homes, but after Hurricane Katrina, they were snapped up. Disappointed, but not discouraged, the couple expanded their search.

Jill said an online inquiry for family-friendly communities brought up Clarksville, and in October 2005, they struck gold.

"We found our dream home in Eastland Green. We packed up and hugged and kissed my entire family good-bye," she said. "We felt like the luckiest people in the world."

Jill became a stay-at-home mom, which cut the family's income.

"Try living on one teacher's salary with a modest mortgage and two kids," she said. "We've learned to make every dollar scream."

To earn extra, Jill turned to her artistry.

"I decided I had to get out of my shy shell and start some gorilla marketing," she said.

Jill transformed a bedroom into a studio, with a bare 9-by-14-foot wall to pin and paint large canvasses. She named her venture, "Miss Mural," and set up a Web site.

Murals aren't always painted directly on walls. Jill said using canvas is more practical, as the murals can be removed and reused.

"The murals in the While House are all painted this way," she said.

Her immaculate brick home is filled with her masterpieces: a Harry Potter-themed room rife with English castles against midnight blue skies for daughter, Cara, 8, and a realistic jungle motif teeming with wild animals for son, Quinn, 2.

An upstairs playroom is all sky, light blue and airbrushed with cottonball clouds. A work in progress, Jill plans to add airplanes and helicopters.

Jill paints on walls if a client wishes, but charges less for canvas, although the cost is more.

"It saves time on a job site ... remember, I'm a stay-at-home-mommy, too," she said.

The canvas is fire-resistant and doesn't shrink, fade or fray. It's applied like wallpaper, so smoothly an observer would think paint was applied on bare wall.

Dockins has decorated walls for a few businesses, but most for homes.

"I get jobs through word-of-mouth, from my mommies group and my Bunco group," she said, adding with a smile that she's "open to bartering, too."

Sandy Britt is a Community reporter and can be reached at 245-0751 or britt@theleafchronicle.com

Clarksville Tennessee TN Sango Hopkinsville Oak Grove KY Kentucy Pleasant View Coopertown Springfield Joelton Ashland City Erin Dickson Dover Nashville Cumberland River

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