Tucked back, away from the traffic, out of view, sets a quiet home surrounded by trees, an open lawn stretching away like a park.
The community, Mingus, is small and noted more for its night life than for, perhaps, its most noted resident, one with a national and international following.
Next to the home, a metal building stands, its windows and doors open to the natural beauty of the area. It houses the studio of Laura Butler, the Artist in Residence at Tarleton State University where she graduated with a master’s in English and a minor in art and history.
“My family has been in Palo Pinto County for six generations,” she says.
Butler says she has been painting since she was a small child. She sold her first painting when she was in high school. Now 52, she is an accomplished and well-known western artist.
“I started showing in Dallas with the Safari Club,” she says.
That led to the Savage Galley which had galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz., Santa Fe, N.M. and Dallas.
“Now I’m in one little gallery in Dallas – Monticello.”
About two years ago, she did a piece in black and white.
“I started doing everything in black and white, it captures more of the cowboy image,” she explains.
Those black and whites are 30-by-40 inch oils.
She travels to working ranches to find the subjects for her work, taking photos and sitting down to the easel she has had for 25 years. She says her goal is to show how the cowboy way of life continues into the 21st century.
“Everybody does things like they did 150 or 200 years ago.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about her art is the artist herself – she has MS that was diagnosed in 1988.
“I lost a quarter of my eyesight in each eye,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me painting."
Besides having part of her vision blocked, she also tires easily.
“Thank goodness I work at home,” Butler confesses.
Tarleton has honored her achievements in her chosen profession by naming her Outstanding Young Alumni and, later, Distinguished Alumnus.
“Tarleton’s Artist in Residence position is awarded to a practicing, professional artist who has achieved a significant state, national and international reputation,” literature from the university reads. “Butler’s work is renowned by many across the United States and has been featured is such publications as Western Horseman and illustrated in the book Western Movies.”
Her show, Shades of Gray: The Contemporary Cowboy” was on display at the Clyde H. Wells Fine Art Center at Tarleton through Sept. 23.
Collectors have purchased as many as 20 of her paintings. Actors An Miller, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have also been purchasers.
“Southland Corp., the parent company of 7-11, has a big collection.”
She also does commission paintings. For those interested in her work, she can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.