Kenneth Wyatt, a former Methodist minister known for his western and faith-based paintings, died May 24.
He spent 30 years as an ordained Methodist minister, preaching at small churches around Texas, before he felt called to take on painting full-time.
He was a speaker at the 2001 United Methodist Men Odyssey at Purdue University, and a recipient of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.
In observance of 200 years of Methodism in the United States, the Foundation for Evangelism commissioned Dr. Wyatt to paint “Offer Them Christ,” a painting of John Wesley telling Thomas Coke prior to his voyage to America to “Offer them Christ.”
The painting hung in The Upper Room Chapel in Nashville for many years before being sent to the foundation’s headquarters at Lake Junaluska, N.C.
He painted each of the 12 disciples. “My models came from many locations and from many walks of life,” said Wyatt. “Jesus selected His followers in much the same way: He called one from the tax tables, another from the carpenter's trade, a few from the sea, and still others from tents, houses, and deserts.”
"He may not have ministered in the pulpit anymore, but he ministered in his art," said Carl McDaniel with the Kenneth Wyatt Galleries in Amarillo. He described many of Wyatt's pieces as being "infused" with Christian imagery and depictions of God's glory seen in nature and the human spirit.
“If he didn’t paint,” said son Mark Wyatt, “I don’t know what he would do. He loves the creation of something new. Sometimes when he starts a painting, it seems like he wants to finish so badly just so he can start another one.”
Born in Wichita Falls in 1930, Wyatt was the son of a roofer who first painted on his bedroom basement ceiling before getting permission to draw on the walls.
He attended Tarleton University in Stephenville, Texas, where he helped cheerleaders with their signs and made money selling cartoons to Collier’s magazine.
After graduating from Tarleton and McMurry University in Abilene, he spent 30 years in country churches around the region, and he engaged in graduate study at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Change of vocation
“It was in the middle of a sermon in Morton [Texas] in the 1960s when I sense that wasn’t enough,” Wyatt recalled in 2013.
“Now I’m not a nut but it was like in my mind, I was hearing that this wasn’t what God wanted me to do anymore.”
He took a sabbatical while wife, Veda, took a teaching job in Tulia. He did some professional speaking, but he devoted more time to painting. With his sabbatical over, he decided to give full-time painting a stab.
As a result of that decision, 9,000 paintings are now in the homes of former U.S. presidents, U.S. congressmen, state senators, Queen Elizabeth, and the Oklahoma State Capitol.
The Wyatt family released a brief statement after his passing, quoting Matthew 25:23––"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"