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Mural maker follows calling

Driving up to Lamp and Home Outlet, muralist Roger Carroll, 55, immediately had a vision of what to paint on the stucco building.
He took a piece of Styrofoam from the building site and sketched out a design for owner Jim Hoyle.
“We connected,” Hoyle said.
The fantasy rain forest and underwater scene was just what Hoyle had imagined. After nailing down a price, he was happy to hire Carroll.
“I just gave him a blank canvas,” Hoyle said. “I said, ‘Look, this is your baby, you tell me what you want to do.’”
For more than a week, Carroll has been doing just what he pleases with his large canvas, which is located on N.C. 27 East in Boger City.
With the weather being “absolutely perfect,” he’s already completed the background. Next up: details.
Caroll works so quickly because he’s been painting murals for 15 years.
“I’m just so acclimated to doing it,” he said. “I don’t have to stand around and think about it. I just come in and start splattering paint.”
Painting is Carroll’s passion, but he didn’t devote himself to it until the age of 40.
He spent much of his working life in a Mt. Airy plant cutting foam rubber.
At night to supplement his income, he would paint canvases of bird dogs, homeplaces and “whatever was important to them” for locals.
After many years, he took a commercial art job creating patches and emblems for a local company.
While working this job, he was given the opportunity to paint sports figures on the wall of a local school gym. It was his very first mural.
“They made such a huge deal out of it,” Carroll said.
The positive reaction encouraged Carroll to seek work at other area schools.
“Just about every school I stopped at was interested in having something done,” he said.
Eventually, he quit his day job and made a career out of his murals. It was the answer to prayers. For years, he had asked if “God could open up whatever it was I was created for.” He now believes he those prayers have been answered.
He calls his new job a “God thing” because after stepping back from a hard day’s work and looking at a mural “you know in the big scheme of things, you had very little to do with it.”
Over the years, he’s painted “everything you could imagine” including history timelines and outerspace scenes. His canvases range from Mexican restaurants to $4 million houses at the beach. His clients have been wealthy people and inner city schools.
Every time he creates a mural, it’s difficult for him to pack up and move on.
“In some ways, you feel you have this kind of vagabond existence,” he said.
Even so, he wouldn’t trade his life now for anything. He considers himself a “lay minister” and often finds time to talk to people about his faith.
In schools, children are always drawn to the man painting the wall.
“It gives me great pleasure in letting folks know a normal God-fearing man can perform that vocation,” he said.
With the mural at Hoyle’s shop working towards completion, more and more Lincolnton residents are stopping by. Often, they don’t say a word. Instead, they just pull out their cell phones and snap a picture.
It may be surprising to some that a tropical rain forest sequence is being painted on a lamp store, but Hoyle says the connection between the mural and his products is “beauty.”
No matter what he’s drawing or why, Carroll is simply happy to be creating art rather than cutting foam rubber. He encourages others to find their talents and run with them.
“God gives everybody a skill, an innate talent,” he said.
And if they feed that talent?
“They can do more than they thought possible,” he said.
by Sarah Grano

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