The city of Tomball’s mural is taking shape in Old Town Tomball, tying together Tomball’s historic railroad roots and tourism efforts. Artist Beth Mankin Jones is painting the city’s first commissioned mural as approved by City Council.

"I'm excited about it; I can't wait to see the response and how people are going to react," Jones said in a July 1 interview.

The mural is being painted on the western exterior of the city’s visitor and information center, located at 215 W. Main St. The city approved $6,000 from its fiscal year 2020-21 budget for the mural project, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

The mural’s design includes Tomball's history—its railroad roots; Tomball's former motto "hometown with a heart" depicted in a heart on the map; and the city's mascot, Rusty Rails, which represents fun, said Mike Baxter, director of marketing and tourism for the city. The design was jointly created by Jones and the input of Tomball's Tourism Advisory Committee, Baxter said.

"We're hoping this will be the first of many in the downtown area and just kind of a catalyst to get other businesses to want to do this," Baxter said.

He said the city has set aside approximately $10,000 in its budget each year for public art, meaning local individuals could request a portion of the funds for a grant from the city for future mural projects.

Baxter said the city first pitched the idea of a mural in April 2019 to further tourism and public art and began the search for artists. After receiving a handful of pitches from artists, the committee selected Jones and refined the mural design, which was then approved by City Council in December 2020, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

"Hopefully ... people will want to take pictures with Rusty Rails," Jones said.

Jones, a lifelong resident of Cypress and Spring, said Tomball’s mural is her debut in public art, such as working with a city on a project.

"I've never got to do a mural this big," she said.

She said she previously worked on projects with Fame City Waterworks—a former indoor water park in west Houston; SplashTown Waterpark; Landry’s Restaurants and, most recently, at The Post Oak Hotel in Houston. At SplashTown, she worked as a corporate artist and was contracted by Pepsi-Cola to create its brand in art forms around the park, she said.

At The Post Oak Hotel, Jones said she painted murals on the 10-level parking garage with each level a different color. Additionally, Jones said she has done smaller projects, such as murals in children’s rooms, recording studios and churches, and also enjoys face painting, fine art painting and colored pencil work.

Jones said she attended the Art Institute of Houston and studied fashion illustration. A few odd jobs after college led her to learning an array of art forms, she said.

Being the first to paint a city mural in Tomball, Jones said she looks forward to seeing additional murals pop up throughout town. She said she hopes to take on another locally.

"I've already found a lot of walls around this town that I'm going to go talk to some people about," Jones said.

Jones said in early July she anticipates the mural will take about two to three weeks to finish, depending on the weather.