Copper in the Arts

August 2020

J. Anne Butler: Inspiration in Emotion

By Lisa Scheid

liver-chestnut-1.jpgBronze sculpture by J. Anne Butler.
Photograph courtesy of J. Anne Butler. 

Bronze sculptor J. Anne Butler finds inspiration in emotion.

She said the inspiration for a new life size Arabian horse foal came from her great love for the Arabian horse, the fun and joy that the spring foals bring as they develop. 

“Their innocence and energy, like all newborns, bring hope,” she says.

More by accident than design, Anne, as she is known, has specialized in Arabian horse bronzes but she loves to sculpt a wide range of subjects, said her husband Ray Tweedie.

A native of the English Lake District, Butler was born and raised close to nature in the farming community. 

She now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is a major center of the Arabian horse world. 

Butler’s path to renown bronze sculptor, particularly of Arabian horses, passes through stints at an international figurine company, textile design and sculpture work for Walt Disney company, Schmidt and Enesco. She has been a struggling single parent, then married artist creating a blended family of seven with Tweedie. She’s dealt with health issues. 

Like the beloved breed, Butler’s strength and resolve set her apart. 

“To me there are no boundaries,” she says in her artist’s statement. “I have always believed that anyone can do anything they want, if they want it hard enough. I am entirely self-taught, learning by my powers of observation, not having had formal education in sculpting or anatomy either equine or human.” 

She credits encouragement from Tweedie and a mentor.

Tweedie is the one who urged her to visit a famous sculptress in the Lake District when Butler was thinking of giving up on her dream of sculpting solo. 

Josephina de Vasconcellos persuaded Butler to carry on, saying Butler had no right to waste her God-given talent.

Butler described the way she creates as ambitious and instinctual.

“Unlike many artists who produce drawings or a maquette, I work in a different way, through emotion, once a basic idea is formed in my mind, as I am working, the piece has to ‘feel’ right as regards balance, attitude, composition etc,” she says. “I have to feel the spirit of the sculpture as it grows, it has taken me many years to realise this process cannot be forced.”

When Butler started producing her own sculptures she worked in cold cast porcelain, personally hand painting each piece. That sense of individuality remains in her technique as she works in bronze.

“I enjoy working in bronze. I prefer the strength of the metal and the challenge of bringing it to life.” she says.

Most of her sculptures are collector’s editions limited to a few worldwide, making each member of the edition as individual as possible by customizing patinas and bases to suit a client’s needs.

Butler’s sculptures and original paintings can be found in collections of the HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as well as those of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and the late Patrick Swayze. Her work can be found in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan, Africa and the Middle East.


J. Anne Butler, Scottsdale, AZ

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