Kenneth Wyatt died on May 24, said Kenneth Wyatt Galleries. He would have been 91 in July.
Wyatt is best known as one of the country’s most prolific western artists.
However, the well-known artist wore many hats and titles. Wyatt was an artist, author, Navy Veteran, father, husband, and mentor.
Carl McDaniel, with Kenneth Wyatt Galleries, shared his extensive knowledge on Wyatt and his story. McDaniel shared, “Mr. Kenneth White was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, on July 17, 1930. When the family decided to move the Stephenville a little later, so that all the kids, along with Kenneth, would have an opportunity to go to college after high school. Well, Kenneth graduated high school at the age of 14, became a minister at the age of 14, and he had his first church at the age of 14.”
McDaniel continued to say that before Wyatt had graduated high school, the fourteen-year-old had read every book in his school’s library.
However, McDaniel said that it would be a special night in Dallas, Texas later in 1967 that would propel Wyatt to want to start his prominent career as an artist.
“He was sitting there drawing on a napkin and was drawing a donkey. There was a famous artists that happened to be there, by the name of Dimitri Vail, who was known for portrait paintings of presidents and prominent people. He saw what Kenneth had done and encouraged Kenneth to get into painting,” said Wyatt.
From there, Wyatt collected his $500 from speaking at the event, turned around, and dedicated the hundreds to purchasing art supplies and two books. “One by Charles Russell, and one by Frederick Remington. Both of those were cowboy artists of the 1890s,” explained McDaniel. He continued, “Kenneth had never been to an art school. All of this was self taught, and he would admit it was a God-given talent.”
Throughout a time frame of 51 years, Wyatt produced more than 9,000 paintings.
Over the decades, Wyatt came across many people. Additionally, his paintings were always in high demand and wanted by everyone. McDaniel shared that he believes high-profile figures such as Queen Elizabeth, President Ronald Reagan, President George W. Bush, Carol Burnett, Sam Donaldson, Sandra Bullock, and Johnny Depp either own or have been presented Wyatt’s art.
Additionally, Wyatt left great impressions on many, like artist, Jack Sorenson.
Sorenson stated, “I’m an artist because of Kenneth Wyatt.”
However, Wyatt found particular interest in Sorenson.
“He saw me riding a horse down a bar ditch by Palo Duro Canyon and he said, ‘You look more like a cowboy than anybody I’ve ever seen. Would you pose for me?’ And I said- he said, I’m a Western artist. Would you pose for me?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have time.’ He said, ‘I pay $20 an hour and all you have to do is ride your horse back and forth.’ And I said, ‘you got that camera with you?'”
Sorenson modeled for Wyatt for the next four years and while Sorenson was Wyatt’s muse, he was also able to learn about art from one of the best. Wyatt used Sorenson as a model for at least a couple hundred paintings.
“He taught me two very valuable lessons as an artist. He said, always do paintings that have a story, because people remember the story more than they remember the painting, and always give it a clever title,” explained Sorenson. He later stated, “I owe him a great debt. He was a wonderful man. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
While the world has lost an artist with a heart of gold, Kenneth Wyatt’s legacy will continue to live on forever.