After spending an hour among the towering walls of green bamboo stalks on the patio outside of Garden District Coffee drinking mango tea with artist Amber Butler, the following two analogies arrive as incontrovertibly true—or at least, reasonably far from nonsensical. Like any flourishing garden, creation is: 1) not at all linear in a strict geometric sense, and 2) it is guaranteed to make a giant mess.
Both analogies, in practice, require a lot of patience, an attribute not always associated with creatives, but one essential to any healthy process. As a polymath with her hands in publishing, digital marketing, home staging and real estate sales, Butler holds fast to these truths more universally than most.
But it’s when she’s not on the clock, but on her porch blowing off steam with a glass of wine within reach while adorning a typical terracotta pot with one of her bright, gold-leafed and hand-painted butterflies, that her deep sense of being a creative person actually blooms.
“Painting is my outlet because I would do it in my free time whether I sold them or not—it’s what I love,” Butler says. “But I didn’t think anything of my painting or the pots until I started posting them, and people offered to buy them. I didn’t really think about their value.”
After studying art and graphic design at LSU, stints in New Orleans and Tampa taught the Parkview Baptist alum the value of the soil in which she sets herself and the importance of pushing through to make any kind of art despite the apparent imperfections. It is her massive cityscape that backdrops the walls inside the New York Bagel on Lee Drive, an LSU student and faculty institution, and her large-scale pieces often float around to various luxury home listings to star in promotional images.
“Art is such an incredible process, but it takes time,” Butler says. “You can’t rush things. You have to refine them.”
Butler does extensive renderings on graphite paper and in sketchbooks—her brain-dump, she says—sometimes using chalk to consider layers and texture, before tracing her work onto the curved surface of the pots.
She has accomplished all she wanted to this year already by returning to Baton Rouge, reconnecting with her clients here, working in real estate with a home staging company, as well selling painted pots one-by-one to friends and a growing cavalcade of commissions and collectors.
“Being home isn’t just about the city I’m in now,” Butler says. “It’s about getting back to what I love.”