Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beautiful Bugs A to Z

Butler Studios
Announces the Release of
56 pages
26 high quality reproductions
of original egg tempera paintings
with original poetry
Suitable for Children
of all ages.
On sale now at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Return of the Prodigal

Return of the Prodigal
egg tempera 24 x 24
James Butler

A third and last book, The Hills Beyond, was culled from the mountain of manuscripts left behind by Thomas Wolfe after his death. The novella, Return of the Prodigal, which is included in The Hills Beyond is a semi-autobiographical description of Wolfe's return to Asheville N.C. Although he died before it was published, Return of the Prodigal confirms the passion, energy and sensitivity that made Wolfe the most promising American writer of his generation.

Although the figures in my painting do not physically represent the characters in Wolfe's Return of the Prodigal, they do represent the emotive theme of Wolfe's novella. The young daughter is returning from a life without moral compass and is seeking redemption. The mother is offering unconditional love and forgiveness.

You Can't Go Home Again

You Can't Go Home Again
egg tempera 24 x 24
James Butler

The central conviction of the life of Thomas Wolfe rested upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, was the central and inevitable fact of human existence. In You Can't Go Home Again, he wrote “You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

The empty red chair in my painting represents all that is lost forever when youth answers the siren's seductive song of distant exotic lands.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Of Time and the River

Of Time and the River
egg tempera 24 x 24
James Butler

Both majestic and enduring, Thomas Wolfe's second novel was written with startling emotional intensity. Of Time and the River explores the universal truths about art and life, past and present.

In my painting the river captures the passing of time. The pensive nature of the woman depicts the creative process.

Look Homeward Angel

Look Homeward Angel
egg tempera 24 x 24
James Butler

Thomas Wolfe's first novel was an autobiographical attempt to capture the wanderlust and quest for a greater intellect which is inherent in our youth.

In my painting I depict a young woman and her daughter revisiting their Kansas family homestead. The young woman imagines a field of goldenrod which symbolizes her idealized memories of youth. The young girl's gaze at the viewer symbolizes the cynicism of a generation removed.


Friday, July 27, 2012


Vertigo - 20 x 16 Egg Tempera

Our mind is balanced on the edge of the precipice. We are drawn by Vertigo into the naked abyss. If you love me turn away and exist.

James Butler

Friday, July 13, 2012


Loneliness 20x16 Egg Tempera

Of all the fish that swim in the sea. Why am I so Lonely. I swim alone and cry for thee, a friend who will never be.
James Butler

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Botanica: the Lotus Pond

Presently on view in the lobby of Botanica the Wichita Gardens,  Lotus Blossoms, oil 28 x 22, depicts the lily pond in the new section of the gardens.  Painting by Jan Butler.

Cafe Lido

Cafe Lido, oil, 28 x 22" by Jan Butler.  The coastline of Nice in southern France is dotted with colorful beach-side cafes.  This couple is enjoying "petit dejeuner"  in the hazy light of mid morning.


ANXIETY - 20 x 16 - egg tempera on panel

Panic stricken, crying fear. Anxiety is ever near. Heart beat racing, black despair. Take a valium and be happy dear.

James Butler


PHOBIA - 20 x 16 - egg tempera on panel

A darkened pond, a freudian fen. The peace that comes when a heart subsides. The ultimate Phobia in all of us resides.

James Butler

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SERENITY - Egg Tempera 20 x 16

A Study of Water and Light, Egg Tempera, 20 x 16 is the first in what I hope will be a large series paintings exploring the interaction of light and water. In this painting I show the subtle refraction of light through a shallow pool of water. The surface of the water is defined by the leaves which give tension to the water's surface.

Please note that Giclee copies of all the egg tempera paintings at Butler Studios are available for purchase. Just contact tassie_jim@hotmail.com for prices.

Hidden Pleasure Egg Tempera 20 X 16

Hidden Pleasure, Egg Tempera on Panel, 20 x 16

is a continuation of my series of water paintings. In this painting I try to show the vast, open Kansas prairie and sky juxtaposed with the enormous variety of botanical detail surrounding a small gully with water.

She and I found a grassy treasure. We indulged a Hidden Pleasure. Ecstasy beyond measure.

James Butler

Thursday, March 31, 2011


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel Here is a series of twelve egg tempera paintings I have done of things we grow in our garden at Butler Studios in Wichita, KS. They will all be in a show at KU later this summer along with some paintings of buffalo grass and johnson grass. Comments???


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6" X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel


6"X 6" Egg Tempera on Panel

Monday, August 2, 2010

Harrison Park - Egg Tempera on Claybord 12 X 9

I've wanted to try Claybord with egg tempera for some time so I finally bought a few small panels and got started. It seems to work well - and certainly is easier and faster than preparing wood panels with gesso.

Harrison Park is a small part on the southwest side of Wichita. I tried to capture some of the atmospherics of a summer day.

Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mary - Icon

Mary - 7 x 5 1/2 Egg Tempera on Wood Panel

Here is another Icon of Mary - mother of Jesus, which I just completed. It still has to dry for a month or so before I put on the shellac. I have started using Russian Gold for gold leaf instead of metallic foil.

Ezekiel's Wheel - Icon

Ezekiel's Wheel 17 x12 Egg Tempera on Wood Panel

The elements of this Icon are taken from the vision of the Prophel Ezekiel as described in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel. His vision of a "wheel within a wheel" the "color of beryl" which contained a lion, a bull, an eagle and an angel like creature has been given many interpretations. Most scholars believe the vision references the political turmoil contemporary to Ezekiel's experience. Some researchers attribute his vision to an encounter with a UFO or perhaps a brief look into the future.

Something unusual did happen while I was painting (writing) this Icon. I was about 60 percent finished after three or four days work and set the Icon on the floor next to my work area. When I came back the next morning, the Icon was completely blank - completely white gesso. Scout, one of our beagles, had licked the egg tempera (and three days work) completely off the gesso. I called the poison control center since the egg tempera contains so many toxic minerals and they said it was too late to do anything except to monitor his conditon. We watched him closely and he seemed his normal self - except for some very colorful poop.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ICON - Christ Casting out Demons

Casting out Demons
17" X 12"
Egg Tempera on Wood Panel
Finished at last except for the final coat of shellac to seal the egg tempera. The subject of this Icon does not appear often in liturgical art. Perhaps that's why it took so long to research the symbolic elements of the composition.
I added the Archangel Michael battling with the evil one in the background to reinforce the powerful strength that Christ brings to bear against the force of evil.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christ Casting Out Demons - ICON

This ICON - Christ Casting Out Demons - egg tempera on wood panel - has been in progress for about three months now. But I'm close to finishing.

As described by St Luke, Christ encounters a man living in a graveyard who is possessed by demons. The demons identify themselves as "legion" or many. Christ commands the demons leave the man and go into a herd of swine. The swine them drown themselves in a nearby lake.

In my Icon I have added the Archangel Michael fighting Satan in the background to reinforce the basic theme of good vs evil. The figure on the right side represents humanity poised between heaven and hell. In my representation, Christ is rising above the filth of the world as he exorcises the demons from the possessed man.

I'll post a better photo later when I have finished sealing the Icon with a mixture of shellac and alcohol.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cayman Sailing at Sunset

Cayman Sailing at Sunset
6 x 4 inches colored pencil sketch

We saw some really expensive sailboats around the Cayman Islands. It's hard to capture the movement of the water, the wind and the sails in a quick sketch like this one. Wish I could spend some more time around the islands and really concentrate on painting.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Basti the Coconut Man

Basti the Coconut Man
6 x 4 pencil on paper

When we were in the Cayman Islands on our honeymoon Basti would clean the beach in front of our villa. He is a very interesting fellow who certainly works hard supporting his family in Jamaica. He would collect and open the coconuts we used to make our morning pina colada drinks. Thanks Basti!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cayman Islands Sunrise

Cayman Islands Sunrise
4 x 6 pencil sketch

Our recent honeymoon trip to the Cayman Islands produced a few pencil sketches. Here is the sunrise from our bedroom window. Really great skies because of the approaching hurricane.
Our neighbors, Cheryl and Dan Phillippi let us stay in their timeshare. What a great experience!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Elwood Beagle

Elwood guards the James Butler Studios
and offers sage advise to artists. He just celebrated his 3rd birthday with his half brother Jake and close friend Scout.

Elwood will be happy to critique your work. Just leave a photo of the work and your e-mail address and he will be in touch.

Regards from the studio......

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Pitcher with Apricots - rice paper batik - 10 x 14

In June of 2009, I taught the technique of rice paper batik to a group of Kansas art education teachers at Wichita State University. These talented women inspired me to do a series of paintings on kinwashi rice paper. Jan Vavra


Sunflower Trio, each 5" x 5"

These Kansas sunflowers were painted as gifts for three friends who are traveling to Lincoln, NE to attend our nursing school reunion. When completing a rice paper batik, the entire paper is coated with wax. The paper is crumpled into a ball. Dark paint is worked into the cracks of the wax. The last step is to remove the wax using a hot iron. Jan Vavra

The Bird Cage, 12" x 18"

I've previously painted this landscape in oil on panel. Painting small details such as leaves and flowers is a challenge in rice paper batik. Friends of mine gave me permission to use their photo taken in Cartagena, Colombia. Jan Vavra

Sumac and Birch Trees, 12" x 16"

by Jan Vavra


Purple Mountain Majesty, 12" x 16"

by Jan Vavra

Silver Pitcher, 13" x 10"

I painted this old silver pitcher and fruit previously with oil. Rice paper batik gives a new look to the painting. Jan Vavra

Fall Trees, 18" x 15"

The shadows are as important as the trees in this autumn rendering. The first step in rice paper batik is to render a drawing in permanent ink. The white of the paper is saved with melted parafin, the wax used to seal jelly in jars. The artist paints from light to dark, preserving completed areas in the painting with wax as one progresses. I use a small electric skillet on the low setting. The water color paint must be dry before apply the wax with a brush.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Summer Sun - 24 x 16 - oil on pvc

Part of a series of paintings I am working on about Amish women working "Summer Sun" tries to capture a hot, dusty summer day. I still have some work to do on the wheat and some of the foreground but I like the basic composition. I try to show the heat of the sun with the colors I use in the sky. I enjoy painting people working - especially manual work.

Let me know what you think.....???

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Children's Hour

The Children's Hour Oil on PVC 36 X 24

This is a large painting I am reworking. The light source is a problem and I need to darken some of the shadows. But I want to keep the painting light and airy. I think the composition is basically good although the background, especially on the left side, needs some work. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Icon The Flight into Egypt

Here is the nearly finished Icon "Flight into Egypt" which I have been working on for a few weeks now. It is egg tempera painted on a large wood panel. This shows the central part of the Icon. The wood panel has not been stained yet.

In this rendition, the allegorical symbolism is clear and forceful. The dove, which represents the Holy Spirit, is being released by the Angel and guides Mary and Joseph into safety in Egypt. It also represents the Light of Hope. The Divine Trinity is represented by the lilies in the lower left corner as well as reflected in the three gold leaf halos. The Holy Family is fleeing from the darkness of Herod into the light and safety of Egypt. The pyramid on the right side reinforces the concept of the Trinity. It also establishes the location.

" 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and his Mother and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.'

14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and his mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt."

Matthew 2: 12-14

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Little Arkansas in Fall

The Little Arkansas in Fall - 20 x 20 oil on PVC

This seems to be the final version of "The Little Arkansas in Fall" which is the last in a series of seasonal paintings I have done of the river behind my studio. I should set up my "good" camera and use it to make photos of paintings instead of using my cell phone camera. But it will give you a good idea of what the painting looks like.

I tried to show the sweeping vista of fall colors which surrounded the river in November. I think that landscapes are inherently abstracted by the very subject matter. This painting is far from a photo rendering of the subject.

I hope to show this painting somewhere outside of Kansas. But then I would have to get some travel insurance and stay at an hotel somewhere. I'm tired of staying at hotels and traveling and have never liked the idea of insurance. Perhaps someday when I mortgage the house.

Let me know what you think...... thanks...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Arkansas in Fall

Oil on PVC. Progress on Little Arkansas in Fall. Still more to paint but I think I am starting to get good depth and color. The fall colors are easy to work with although the reds can easily overwhelm the painting. Perhaps I'll finish this one by Thanksgiving.

I hope to take a better photo next time. This one was done with my cell phone and doesn't show as much detail as I prefer.

We try to paint something everyday in the studio.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little Arkansas in Fall

A work in progress. "Little Arkansas in Fall" is the fourth and last in the series of paintings I have been doing which show the four seasons of the Little Arkansas River which is next to my studio. It is oil on PVC panel like the others. At this stage I am still working on underpainting and some compositional elements.
Let me know what you think. Comments ???

The Annunciation

"The Annunciation" is a large egg tempera on wood panel Icon which I finished a few days ago. It is still lacking the shellac finish which will be applied in a few months after the egg tempera is completely dried.

In The Annunciation the Angel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary and tells her she will deliver unto the world the Christ Child. The Holy Spirit is represented by the white dove suspended between the hands of the the Angel Gabriel. The lilies represent the Divine Trinity.

In the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a Virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you.- Luke 1:26-28

Comments please ?????