Jody Travis Thompson was born in 1972, in Sulphur, Louisiana. He began his formal artistic education in 1982in Sulphur, through private classes with Jane Ludwig-Johnson. This education would instruct Thompson on the mechanics of manipulating the medium of oil paint in Renaissance tradition. “I was being trained to see the world as paint” Thompson states. The system this forced him to concentrate on a painting being first and foremost about the process of paint, instead of being about the subject matter. Thompson adds, “…by training my brain to see the world in paint rather than seeing a photograph, therefore the life of the painting is free in the action of making it instead of being confined by the thought of what it should or shouldn’t be”.
Thompson began study at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He was introduced to the usage of deep color, and striking, dramatic highlights that Caravaggio influenced in the Baroque period; the honest, objective observation of Leonardo DaVinci during the High Renaissance; and the masterly treatment of intense light and shadows of reflection by Johannes Vermeer in the Dutch Golden Age. While acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art/Painting, focused his natural ability on learning Italian Renaissance techniques that would heavily influence the foundation of his artistic language.
While Caravaggio, da Vinci and Vermeer are primary influences on Thompson’s work, secondary influences include Odd Nerdrum, Heather Ryan Kelley, and J. W. Waterhouse, among others. Although Thompson’s approach to painting began in traditional processes, the construction of the surface, the flesh of these paintings, have always been the entrance for him to being able to better understand and hear the voices of these artists. A turning point in Thompson’s personal expansion and investigation into the field of painting came in 2013 when he was commissioned by Seitel, Inc., to create over 20 paintings that related to and were visually inspired by geology and seismic investigation. Drawing from his experience of visiting numerous, ancient, stone temples while traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as having access to many seismic maps and cross sections, Thompson was able to begin using representation to inform works that are largely abstract in nature.
Through this entrance into abstract painting, Thompson decided to further expand his field of painting. He applied for and was accepted as a Candidate for the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Arkansas in the fall of 2016, where his currently working. This willingness to step into the unknown has opened Thompson’s work as an artist into areas that include projection and new media, non-traditional materials and sound influences. In delving deeper into the conceptual aspects of his work, Thompson is looking at the space between the inside and outside by allowing light and textures to disrupt the surface of his paintings. Through the materiality of the surface, Thompson is seeking out the moment between the before and the after, between what occurs on the outside and on the inside. In questioning the role that light and texture, how their various forms play on the surfaces of his works, Thompson seeks the truth that is revealed from below when the surface cracks.