Taking art to new heights

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It’s hard to miss the Riverside-area home owned by Hugh Tibbitts and Tom Bright. Their personalities, appreciation for art and love for friends and family are apparent as soon as you see the drawings and signatures painted on the house.

When Tibbitts decided he wanted to the inside of home to look as unique and remarkable as the rest of the house, he contacted his friend a popular Jacksonville-based horror artist Jerrod Brown.

The only caveat they gave Brown was not to make it so scary their grandchildren would be afraid to visit, but other than that, Brown had free reign. Then Tibbitts and Bright went to Savannah for the weekend with no clue of what they would see when they got home.

Brown said it was initially discussed to give the ceilings a wood-grain look, but when he went to the house, he had other ideas.

“I’ve done wood-grain work before when I was a scenic artist for theme parks and things like that,” Brown said. “Wood-graining kind of bores me anyway, so I thought if I open this up and put some pictures in there then it would be less wood-graining for me to do.”

Then Brown had to decide what kind of pictures it would be.

“I thought about it; that maybe I could do some UFOs up there or maybe a galaxy with planets,” he said. “Then, for some reason, I started thinking about dragons coming in. I don't know where it came from, it just popped into my head.”

So, for four days, Brown transformed the ceilings of the home into what could be a scene from “Game of Thrones.” The ceilings feature dragons breaking through the ceiling, with other images in the background. Their eyes shimmer through the openings, their claws ripping away at the wood. Brown even painted a dragon tail running through the back hallway. Brown used glow-in-the-dark paint on the dragon eyes, so the glare is even more prominent when the lights are dim.

Unlike Michelangelo, Brown didn't have scaffolding to lay on as he painted, so the job was also a physical challenge.

“I thought my arm would be sore, but I mostly felt it in my neck from looking up the whole time,” Brown said. 

But the effort was worth it when his friends returned home.

“They walked in and they just kept looking at the ceilings with their mouths open in awe,” Brown said of Tibbitts’ and Bright’s reaction.

Tibbitts said when the curtains are open, their neighbors probably think there’s something wrong with them because they’re always walking around staring at the ceiling.

“It was a lot of fun,” Brown said of the project. “I enjoyed it.”

Brown’s next venture is preparing for a 2023 showing at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in downtown Jacksonville. The show will pay homage to “The Monster Times,” a newspaper from the 1970s that featured photos of different horror characters.

“I'm going to recreate these covers and paint them so that's what the show's going to be about it,” Brown said.

For more information on Brown's artwork and future showings, go to www.southpawcreation.wix.com/horror-artist.

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