Connect with us

Western Art

Modern Art Telling the Story of the 21st-Century American West

Oil painter and fine artist, Abigail Gutting, is carrying on Western tradition and heritage through her life-like masterpieces.

Abigail Gutting is a nationally renowned fine artist, who is painting her way through the 21st Century American West. The emphasis in her work is almost always the action, anatomy, and movement of rough stock, cowboys in action, and western wildlife. While the world of western art and the American West itself is storied and rich with history, she gets very excited at how its timeless qualities and traditions live on in this modern age. It’s what she’s chosen to portray in her work as an oil painter.

“Yellowstone Bull No. 2” 9×12, Eiteljorg Museum’s Quest for the West Show, September 9 &10.

Krysta: What did the early days of your art look like and how has your style changed over the years?

Abigail: I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, so it has changed drastically over the years! All kidding aside, I’ve been fortunate to have the training of my artist mother, Susan Gutting, close at hand for my entire life. She noticed I had an early interest in art and passed along her training and knowledge to me over the years. She started me out with drawing, then moved on to colored pencils, watercolor, scratchboard, gouache, and then oil painting. 

Oil painting is my exclusive medium at this time; it’s fabulous to explore. This is my 18th year as an oil painter and the longer I paint, the more I realize how much of this wonderful medium there is left to discover. As far as my style, that has just naturally occurred and developed with training and study. I don’t pay too much attention to developing a unique style. C.S. Lewis said, 

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original; whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” 

That beautifully sums up the most valued advice I’ve received over the years.

“Pounding the Dust” 36×24, Eiteljorg Museum’s Quest for the West Show, Indianapolis, September 9 & 10.

Krysta: How do you pick a subject for your art?

Abigail: Since I paint action, I mostly work from photos. It’s important to paint from real life since nothing takes the place of the human eye, but that’s kind of hard to do when working with action so I take a few thousand photos a year, then get back to the studio and sort through them. When picking a subject, there are a few factors to consider, such as size requirements, gallery requests, and general ideas I have floating around in my mind. With those considerations in mind, I can pull out my sketchbooks and start working. 

Krysta: What does your creative process look like from start to finish?

Abigail: Once I’ve worked out a composition on paper, I draw it on a linen panel. These range from 6×8 inches to 30×60 inches and beyond. The graphite drawing is a foundational stage of the painting. Accuracy is crucial at every stage of the painting process, but this stage is the most important for anatomical accuracy. Once it’s established, I start painting! 

“Staredown” 16×20 was part of the Night of Artists at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, March 2022

Krysta: What do you want people to feel when they look at your paintings?

Abigail: I’d like people to get a sense that the west is still wild. People are honest and hardworking. The land is still open and grand. With each painting, I aim for a narrative that communicates these characteristics on some level.

“Roll Call” 18×40 is showing at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis for the Quest for the West Show, on September 9 & 10

Krysta: Are there any artists you look up to?

Abigail: There are so many, it’s hard to name just a few! My mom, for sure. The Golden Age of Illustration is full of tremendous painters such as Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle, as I study their work often. Other historical artists I enjoy are Nicolai Fechin, Emil Carlson, Carl Rungius, and many more. Wildlife artist Greg Beecham has also been very influential in my career. I’ve been able to take a few workshops from him and very much appreciate his generosity with his time and knowledge.

Closing Thoughts From Abigail Gutting

The western art world is a wonderful thing. It’s full of skill and discipline, it’s neighborly and value is placed on friendships and acquaintances. The camaraderie is great. Such qualities combine to ensure that the legacy of the American West remains celebrated. 

You can learn more about Abigail Gutting and her art by visiting her website at www.abigailgutting.com or catching her on Instagram under @AbigailGuttingFineArt

“Silent Partner” 20×30 Showing at Coeur d’Alene Galleries in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Hi everyone! I'm Krysta Paffrath, I am a proud Arizona native who has a passion for everything business and rodeo. I am beyond thrilled to be the Editor in Chief for Cowboy Lifestyle Network. With my background in digital marketing and rodeo, this was a natural fit for me to join the team. My adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit has guided me to work in many places like the WYO Quarter Horse Ranch in Thermopolis, Wyoming, a working cattle ranch in Seligman, Arizona, and many places in between. I am passionate about preserving the western way of life and working with different brands and rodeos to make that happen. If you're looking for a write-up, please shoot me an email at krysta@clngo.com. Learn more about me at krystapaffrath.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

More in Western Art