AEDC machinist uses landscape scenery as inspiration for paintings

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Tullahoma resident and Aerospace Testing Alliance Machinist James "Trapper" Landon always knew, even as a little, boy he wanted to live in Alaska because of the picturesque landscape and the endless hunting opportunities.

"After I got married I went to Alaska on a hunting trip for caribou for two weeks," he said. "I realized it rained too much for me."

Sometimes things in life just don't work out, so Landon came back to Tennessee and built a house for him and his mother.

"I didn't have a lot of money so to keep busy I would fish and hunt," he explained.

"And one day the famous painter Bob Ross was on TV and I started watching him and thought I would try painting."

For the first six months, Landon admitted, every painting did not turn out like he wanted and he quickly got discouraged. But the more he watched Bob Ross, the more Landon realized where he was messing up so he decided to keep trying.

"Bob Ross made it look easy," he laughed. "He mostly did lakes, trees and mountains and I love landscape."

He was determined to learn.

He bought more supplies; training DVDs and continued watching the TV show.

Little by little he got better.

"As I was painting, I learned where I messed up," he said. "But if I painted a picture for someone they wouldn't necessarily see it--it's just the perfectionist in me."

Landon says he doesn't usually paint for himself.

"If I paint for someone and they give me a picture or a scene they want painted, that inspires me to go on," he explained. "I rush home and can't wait to start on it."

He gets most of his joy from painting for other people and the appreciation they show for his work.

He compared the moment to when children open presents on Christmas day,

"Their faces just light up and that's what I like the most."

A painting usually takes him only a few hours to do, but because of the oil-based paint, it could take up to 10 days to completely dry.

He has given away nearly 40 paintings to either family or friends since he started more than four years ago.

"I don't charge for my paintings because it takes away from the joy," he said.

Landon earned the nickname "Trapper" as a young teenager because he used to trap animals and sell their furs

He even admits he bought his first car by selling furs.

Growing up not too far from AEDC in Palmer Tenn., Landon always knew about this place and tried for 20+ years to work out here.

It wasn't until in 2005 that he got that chance.