Debbie Croft: Merced artist spans subjects, mediums

A boxer leans against the ropes, bloody and beaten.

Chrome fenders on a ’57 Chevy shine in contrast against the glossy-red classic body.

Rose petals, colored marbles, a trio of juicy plums – all begging to be touched.

The artistry of Judith Burton encompasses every subject: people, nature, animals, seascapes, landscapes, sports, cars and common household items. Nothing escapes her eye or the canvas, including bicycles, a pair of old boots or her morning cup of coffee.

Burton’s art studio sits at ground level in the home she shares with her husband, Richard Burton, and her friendly Maltese, Paloma. Richard Burton is a retired Turlock city attorney. She retired from a career as school counselor and teacher. The couple live in a quiet Merced neighborhood surrounded, naturally, by her artwork.

She began drawing while very young.

“In fifth grade my uncle bought me an art book,” she said. And so began her enduring love affair with art.

Burton joined the art club in high school, and soon advanced to painting in oils. As an adult she taught English, special education and art. When applying art therapy in counseling sessions, she and the students benefited.

She uses a wide range of mediums: paints in acrylic, watercolor and oil, plus pastels and colored pencils.

Burton prefers realism or photo-realism. Only a few of her works are done in abstract form. “An artist must know how to draw first before learning to paint,” she explains.

Starting with black and white to get the values, colors are added later. “Although sometimes I stop after the black-and-white painting is done. Because I like it just the way it is, and no other colors need to be added,” she said.

Near the top of the stairs in her entryway hangs a tall, black-and-white painting of a horse. On a black background, the white horse appears to emerge from the painting. It’s one of the couple’s favorites.

When she isn’t painting, she enjoys sculpting in ceramics and bronze. A life-size ballerina and a few busts are displayed around her home. Burton also designed the sculpture for Mariposa’s 9/11 memorial, using I-beams from the World Trade Center towers.

She was recently interviewed by a college student working on her thesis. The young woman is writing about the artists she has been influenced by. Burton said she feels honored to see how her art career is prompting others to pursue their own creativity.

Burton’s artwork may be viewed at Merced’s Holistic Xchange and Modesto’s Chartreuse Muse.

Her work is also on display at Mariposa’s Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art, the Mariposa County Arts Council Treetop Gallery and at John C. Fremont Hospital in Mariposa.

She is preparing for a fall exhibit in San Francisco at the Hourian Fine Art Gallery.

Permanent collections are displayed at Merced’s Multicultural Museum and California’s State Capitol Building in Sacramento.

Her painting “Yellow Epiphyllum” won the People’s Choice Award at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock.

After retiring, she turned down numerous offers to join clubs and become involved with projects and friends. Burton had waited so many years for the time when she could devote her days to painting. She’s been painting full time now for 23 years.

“When I go into my studio, turn on some music and pick up a paintbrush, I’m transported into another realm,” Burton says. “I can’t imagine life without painting.”

Her book of artwork, “Judith Ann Burton: Multimedia Artist,” is available at For more, visit her website at