As a youngster, Lutes enjoyed horses for their adventure. As a teenager because they were the source for rodeo action as he tried to ride and rope.
Today when Lutes sees horses, he sees a potential for a picture. At nearly every drawing opportunity, he takes his pen to paper and begins to sketch.
Since the age of 10, Lutes has drawn pictures but it has just been in the past year that he has turned his avocation to a vocation. He seriously began marketing his work this fall.
"I was encouraged by numerous friends and family," said Lutes about trying his skills as an artist. When Chad and Kersten Tibbs, owners of C Bar K in the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores, offered to assist him in displaying and selling his prints, he realized it could become a reality.
But before taking the plunge, Lutes turned to a fellow artist with his concerns about establishing his career. Dexter artist Jim Miller offered encouragement and advice.
"He told me 'Do what you love and it will always be your best'," recalled Lutes. "Well, I can draw anything, but horses were my first love in life."
So by drawing what he loves, Lutes said his best work is emerging.
Most often Lutes will work from photos. He explained when a friend showed him a photo of a favorite calf-roping horse, the friend explained he had always wanted a picture of him with the animal.
Lutes, who has been around horses much of his life, studied the picture and began developing ideas. "I could tell the horse was a hard, sudden stopper," said Lutes, who soon sketched out a photo of his friend coming off the horse, rope in hand ready to tie up a calf in rodeo competition.
A drawing can take a day to complete or up to a week, depending on the detail a customer requires, Lutes said.
He will outline it, then shade and add detail to his pen and ink drawing. Lutes takes pride in the fact that his drawings are in ink, although occasionally he will add some shading with a pencil and does some hand coloring of his work, when requested.
"I'm a student of detail," Lutes said adding he is particularly impressed by the work of Sonny Bartholomew as well as of Miller.
"For me a lot of western artists draw portraits that are almost cartoonish, they just don't look real," he said. "I try to do as much detail as I can to make it look as real as possible. Hopefully, when someone sees one of my drawings they see this reality and can relate to it."
Lutes said so far customers have seemed pleased with his efforts. He has created several custom pieces for clients and his prints are sold at C Bar K and through him. Prices vary depending on whether the work is a print, which can sell for around $25, or a custom original, which depending on size, can range from $80 to $200.
He has several spots where he likes to work. One of his favorites is a small office at home with his wife, Tamara, and their 18-month-old daughter, Mayme Elizabeth.
Surrounded by drawings of his daughter on his office walls, Lutes credits his family with providing him with the impetus to succeed. "And Melzer," he said cuddling his daughter in his big arms, "well, she is my inspiration."
Lutes can be reached at 471-3131 or at 475-9407.