“Paint from your knees! Paint from your toes!” - Rex Brandt

Artist Rex Brandt made a name for himself as not only an artist, but a writer, educator, and devoted watercolor arts advocate over the course of his long and prolific career. This California native grew up in San Diego and Riverside and, proving himself quite the prodigy, began attending Chouinard Art Institute at age 13. Brandt went on to become one of the youngest and most impactful painters in the California Scene movement.

At the University of California at Berkeley, his precocious talent for painting took a modern turn while he was under the tutelage of Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann. Brandt developed a broad, splashy, semi-abstracted painting style that placed him with the forerunners of watercolor innovations in the 1930s and 1940s. Collector E. Gene Crain attested to Brandt’s talents proclaiming his artwork "as good as any work in a water-based medium that has ever been painted anywhere at any time." Leaders of the California Scene movement such as Millard Sheets and Phil Dike also recognized his abilities and welcomed him to join them in bringing national attention to regional California artists of the time. Newport Beach, CA was of special interest to him, and his picturesque seascapes exposed the stunning natural wonders of the area to new audiences a world over.

Perhaps what most distinguishes Brandt is his educational legacy. Rex Brandt’s painting workshops in Corona del, La Conner, Orcas Island, and San Juan Island educated generations of artists on the finer points of California watercolor. He and his wife, sculptor Joan Irving, were also guest instructors at the University of Southern California, the University of Vermont, the Chouinard Institute, and at painting classes in Spain, Italy, France and Mexico, and in the United States. Brandt published eleven books including, the instructional texts Watercolor Landscape and Watercolor Technique, The Artist's Sketchbook and Its Uses, and The Winning Ways of Watercolor.

California Scene Movement Timeline
1937: Organized a traveling watercolor exhibition called "The California Group" with Lawson Cooper.
1939: Exhibited at the New York World's Fair art exhibition, American Art Today, representing California Watercolorists.
1945: Formed the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting in Corona del Mar with fellow California Scene painter Phil Dike. Married artist-sculptor Joan Irving.
1947 - 1952: Taught watercolor painting and composition classes at the Chouinard Art Institute.

Rex Brandt Casa De Pedroena