Artist couple retouches, refreshes Phil Campbell train mural

The Phil Campbell train mural, painted in March 2015 by Cori W. Alsbrooks on a brick wall in the downtown area, has gotten a much-needed touch-up by a Haleyville couple working during parts of December and January.

Although the design was still distinct, it had faded a good bit over the years.

In all, the Sutherlands estimate they’ve spent around 30 hours on the project. During the process, they added a tree on one end – the only part of the project they aren’t fully happy with; however, they said are planning to go back and keep working on it until they like the result.

The mural is black, white and grey with some gold highlights, and it was created with spray paint, exterior latex paint and acrylic paint.

“We’ve really worked hard to honor what was done by the original artist and make sure the mural doesn’t disappear because they did a wonderful job, and that should be preserved,” explained Gina Sutherland. “We jumped at the chance to restore the mural. I love all kinds of art.  It’s our Christmas present to the town.”

She and husband Jimmy worked on the project together. “We got some beeps and thumbs up from people passing by while we were working, and a few people stopped to say they liked what we were doing,” explained Jimmy.

Gina said she’s always loved trains; her grandfather was an engineer. “When I hear a train whistle, I think of him.” Jimmy Sutherland shares his wife’s love of trains, noting that his cousin is an Amtrak engineer. “We rode an Amtrak to D.C. a couple of times, and that was an interesting experience. We’re so pleased we got the opportunity to touch up the train mural.”

The couple are no strangers to artistic endeavors. Gina, a paralegal who works from home, said she enjoys painting with acrylics, creating art of subject matter including islands, oceans, clouds, landscapes and other nature scenes.

“I love getting lost in painting,” explained Gina. “It’s just a whole other world. It was so much fun retouching the mural, and the experience has given me a lot of inspiration to work even harder and keep developing my own art.”

Jimmy does residential and commercial painting and owns a construction company, Global Home Services. He said enjoys creating drawings with pencil and with charcoal and generally chooses technical subjects like rockets, machinery, Space-X and steampunk.

City Councilmember Lynn Landers explained the couple worked on the project on their own time schedule on a volunteer basis. “The original artist has since moved to California, where she continues to paint beautiful murals for the public,” Landers said. The mural was recently added to the Alabama Mural Trail, and when approached about restoring it, I felt it was something we should do. We appreciate all the efforts put forth by the Sutherlands.”

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