Donald "Putt" Putman

1926 - 2007

Available Works Sold Works Prints / Giclees Biography

There are people who are cornerstones of a community. Their examples validate our commitments, and exemplify our goals. Donald "Putt" Putman, was one of these people. His life inspired countless students, fellow artists, and friends to pass on his knowledge and values to others, and to excel in their own lives. 


Donald "Putt" Putman was born in Spokane, Washington in 1926, but spent most of his life in California.  Putt attended high school in  Los Angeles, and  joined the Navy during World War II.  After the war he received a scholarship to California State University Fresno.  While in college his interest in the arts convinced him to transfer to Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. 

Castaway by Putt PutmanAfter completing his studies at Art Center Putt joined Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, working at first as a porter, then the strongman catcher, and then a comic acrobat.  Putt worked during the day, but drew and painted the show people, animals, clowns and freaks during the evening, His circus paintings include several portraits of the famous clown Emmett Kelley.


Putt met his wife Bobbie in Florida while traveling with the circus.  While Putt enjoyed circus life, he eventually left the big top to get married, and returned to painting full time.  The couple eventually settled in  Los Angeles to raise a family.  


While raising two boys and two girls, Putt became a scenic artist for MGM.  He helped in the painting of sceneries for such movies as Mutiny on the Bounty, The Brothers Grimm and The Four Horsemen. 


During the 1960's, Putt returned to Art Center College as a teacher.  It was there that he discovered that he truly loved to teach, and found great joy in helping others to shape their artistic skills.


Over the year’s Putt’s passion for portraying the people and the history of the American West earned him a reputation as an accomplished Western Painter. His Western works include Native American portraits and scenes, frontier life, colonial Spanish ladies and Vaqueros,  dance halls, saloons, and bordellos.  While he is best known as a Westen artist, his works cover a wide range of other subjects including portraiture, dance, circus life, nudes, and landscape.


Navajo Nude by Putt PutmanIn his later years Putt devoted his time fully to his painting, doing occasional shows and teaching art workshops at his home near Yosemite National Park.  Putt was a member of the Yosemite Western Artists art organization based in Ahwahnee California.  During the last years of his life Putt painted regularly at the historical Gertrude Schoolhouse with the YWA painting group.


Paintings of Putt's hang in the Rochester Museum of New York, the Whitney Museum in Wyoming, and in public and private collections world-wide, including the collections of celebrities Charlton Heston, Burt Reynolds, and Clint Eastwood.

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