Butcher was born in Jarrettsville, Maryland and grew up in Hagerstown, Maryland. He graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1962 and then studied art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating in 1966.
Upon graduation, Butcher enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and was trained as a jet engine mechanic. He was assigned to VMCJ-1 photo reconnaissance squadron stationed at Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam in March, 1967. While in Da Nang, he was recruited into the USMC Combat Art Program where he produced works based on his experiences in the field with active Marine combat units and aviation missions.
Upon his return from Vietnam, Butcher was assigned to duties as ambassador for the USMC’s combat art collection in Washington, D.C., working in public relations with civilian, government, and military organizations. He continued to paint from eyewitness accounts and contributed over 100 works to the permanent collection of the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia.
After Butcher was honorably discharged from the USMC in 1969, he returned to civilian life as an employee at Major & Keesey, a commercial art studio in Baltimore. In 1971, he embarked on a freelance career producing work for advertising agencies, book and magazine publishers, and art departments of various colleges and government agencies.
In 1974, Butcher joined New York Artist Representatives, Inc. and began receiving assignments from NASA, General Motors, CBS Television, Wells Fargo, Clint Eastwood Productions, and others. In the mid-1980s, he began taking formal portrait commissions, and has since painted over 120 portraits.
Portrait(s) by James Butcher
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