Born in Cape Town, Solly Gutman is largely self-taught, with the exception of a Commercial Art Course through the London College of Art.
Prints, postcards and calendars of his work have been sold through the District Six and Robben Island Museums, the Table Mountain Shop, and tourist destinations along the Southern Cape Route, as well as to Interior Decorators, Framers and Galleries. Original work has been purchased, not only locally, but in the USA, Hong Kong and the UK.
Solly is presently the Vice Chairman of the Botanical Artists Association of South Africa (BAASA), a Fellow of the South African Society of Artists (SASA) since 2011, and a member of the USA-based International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA).
He has obtained medals at the Kirstenbosch Biennales for Botanical Fine Arts and awarded ‘Best Drawing’ at the SASA Annual Exhibition in 2008, 2010 and 2011. During 2013 he was in the ‘top 40’ awards of the first Sanlam National Portrait Competition out of some 1800 entries.
Solly has undertaken numerous private commissions especially in the portrait field. He has been particularly occupied in the printing of canvas images, especially of his botanical work which have been supplied to commercial entities.
The image is scratched into the medium, rather than painted on in the traditional manner. It is a direct process, unlike engravings, etchings or linocuts, which are printing processes. The medium itself consist of a sheet of board, which is compressed with white chalk and clay. It is then sprayed (overlaid) with a matt black ink.
To create the image, the artist uses a sharp, (usually arrow-shaped) metal instrument, to scratch away the black surface and reveal the white area. The medium allows for intricate detail, sharp contrast, and a wide range of textures. Shadows and highlights are created by "scratching" away at the board.