Burleson uses brushes on snare and easel

by YES! Staff

Burleson uses brushes on snare and easel

The natural convergence of art and music manifests itself in many ways, but none more significant than when the artist and the musician are one and the same. And while Jim Burleson makes no claim of being either, the proof is in the pudding. A drummer by avocation, Burleson’s contest entry for the poster for this year’s Carolina Blues Festival presented by YES! Weekly was the handsdown winner. As a career employee of the General Services Administration, Burleson played in numerous bands around the Washington, DC area. But when the digital era dawned and the GSA chose him to train as a graphic artist, he quickly realized that he had a knack for that side of the creative ledger as well. “I’ve always been able to draw,” he said, “and graphic design seemed rather natural for me. My staff and I created book covers and marketing brochures and various illustrations, and it was not a hard transition into creating original art.” So when Burleson, now retired from the GSA and living in Mocksville, picked up his copy of YES! Weekly a few months ago, the proverbial light went off in his head. “I saw the ad for the poster contest for the blues festival and said, ‘Gee, I like the blues and I like art, let’s see what I can do,’” he smiled. “I knew there was going to be some real competition because there are some amazing artists around here, so I’m really honored to have won. Plus, I’ve seen some of the posters from years past and it’s very flattering to even considered be in that league.” Burleson created the poster using the Adobe Illustrator software program. “I started on it one afternoon, put it aside for the evening and finished it the next morning,” he disclosed. “It actually came together pretty quickly.” Burleson discovered Mocksville years ago visiting relatives in Spruce Pines and Marion, and when he’d put in his time at the GSA, he and his wife of 36 years, Sandy, were only too happy to get out of the politically driven environment and head south. “I couldn’t stand the DC rat race any longer,” he admitted. “It’s not good for your psyche. Back then the interstate ended at Mocksville and we’d always pull off and eat at Miller’s Restaurant. We’d always loved North Carolina, so it was not a hard choice to decide to retire here.” Now with some time on his hands, and still a relatively young 58, Burleson is able to pursue both his creative outlets with renewed passion. “I dabble in acrylics and watercolors and pastels, but I’m not as good at computer-generated stuff,” he said. “I’d like to get back to doing art again, of all kinds. And I plan on keeping up with my drumming.” The contest-winning poster is primarily in earthtones and features a guitarist, bordered by a vertical and horizontal fretboard, and a drummer. “Well, I had to get a drummer in there somehow,” he grinned, almost sheepishly. “You gotta have a drummer.” Indeed.

Paul Burleson, poses with his winning artwork for the Carolina Blues Festival.