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Milford Zornes 1908 - 2008
Milford Zornes Mt San Antonio
Mt. San Antonio
Milford Zornes North Ligurian Coast Italy Midsized Thumbnail
North Ligurian Coast (Italy) 1987
Milford Zornes Canyon de Chelly Midsized Thumbnail
Canyon de Chelly 2001

Milford Zornes was born in 1908. As a twenty-year-old in 1928, he went on a bit of a “walk about." He hitch-hiked across America from his native West, worked on the docks of New York, and after earning his ticket, shipped out for Europe. After his return to America, he settled in Los Angeles, studying art with F. Tolles Chamberlin at the Otis Art Institute and Millard Sheets at the Scripps College. By 1933, he was receiving awards for his watercolors which he produced for the P.W.A.P. art project. He won a one-man show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Milford Zornes Ghosts Midsized Thumbnail
Ghosts 1960

Milford Zornes Orchard with Grey Skies
Orchard Under Grey Skies 1941

Milford Zornes portrait of Pat Zornes
from our Sep '13 Newsletter ...
Milford Zornes, A Painter
of Influenc at Ukiah's
Grace Hudson Museum
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery | 1785 Coast Highway One, PO Box 325 Bodega Bay, CA 94923 | 707-875-2911 | Email Us

One of his watercolors was chosen by the Roosevelts to hang in the White House. Over the decade of the thirties, he was active in the California Water Color movement, and was president of the California Water Color Society.

He was drafted after the outbreak of WWII, and was assigned to be an official artist in the China, India, and Burma theaters of operation. Most of the works he produced in this period were turned over to the Pentagon, but he did have a one man show in Bombay.

After the war, he settled in Claremont, California, and spent much time painting, teaching, and traveling. He invented a traveling classroom, taking his watercolor students to exotic travel destinations for his painting workshops. In 1963, Zornes purchased the former home and studio of Maynard Dixon in Salt Lake City to use as a location for regular watercolor workshops. He purchased the home from Edith Hamlin, widow of the famed artist.

Milford Zornes’ paintings are known for their broad brush strokes, and his use of unpainted areas of white to help define forms. He attended his 100th birthday party, a celebration of his life long artistic career on January 26, 2008 at the Pasadena Musuem of Art. He died less than a month later on February 24, 2008.


Excerpt of a Milford Zornes Interview
November 1, 2007, part of the Otis Art Institute Legacy Project

Milford Zornes attended Otis in 1927. He became a famous California water colorist. Milford was interviewed by Otis students in November 2007.
He passed away four months later in late February, 2008.

He has taught art throughout much of Southern California, including the University of California at Santa Barbara. His works are displayed in many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Laguna Museum of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Source: California Watercolors 1850-1970 by Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.; Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940.