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.
â€œWe connected,â€ 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.
â€œI just gave him a blank canvas,â€ Hoyle said. â€œI said, â€˜Look, this is your baby, you tell me what you want to do.â€™â€
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 â€œabsolutely perfect,â€ heâ€™s already completed the background. Next up: details.
Caroll works so quickly because heâ€™s been painting murals for 15 years.
â€œIâ€™m just so acclimated to doing it,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t have to stand around and think about it. I just come in and start splattering paint.â€
Painting is Carrollâ€™s passion, but he didnâ€™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 â€œwhatever was important to themâ€ 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.
â€œThey made such a huge deal out of it,â€ Carroll said.
The positive reaction encouraged Carroll to seek work at other area schools.
â€œJust about every school I stopped at was interested in having something done,â€ 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 â€œGod could open up whatever it was I was created for.â€ He now believes he those prayers have been answered.
He calls his new job a â€œGod thingâ€ because after stepping back from a hard dayâ€™s work and looking at a mural â€œyou know in the big scheme of things, you had very little to do with it.â€
Over the years, heâ€™s painted â€œeverything you could imagineâ€ 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, itâ€™s difficult for him to pack up and move on.
â€œIn some ways, you feel you have this kind of vagabond existence,â€ he said.
Even so, he wouldnâ€™t trade his life now for anything. He considers himself a â€œlay ministerâ€ and often finds time to talk to people about his faith.
In schools, children are always drawn to the man painting the wall.
â€œIt gives me great pleasure in letting folks know a normal God-fearing man can perform that vocation,â€ he said.
With the mural at Hoyleâ€™s shop working towards completion, more and more Lincolnton residents are stopping by. Often, they donâ€™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 â€œbeauty.â€
No matter what heâ€™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.
â€œGod gives everybody a skill, an innate talent,â€ he said.
And if they feed that talent?
â€œThey can do more than they thought possible,â€ he said.
by Sarah Grano