Phil Dike, N.A. Biography

View Art by Phil Dike

Phil Dike, N.A. (1906-1990) Born: Redlands, CA; Studied: Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles), Art Students League (New York), American Academy (France); Member: National Academy of Design, American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club. Phil Dike was born and raised in Southern California. In 1923, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Chouinard Art Institute and received instruction from F. Tolles Chamberlin and Clarence Hinkle. He continued his art education in New York City studying with George Bridgman, Frank Vincent DuMond and George Luks. After returning to California in 1929, he began teaching at the Chouinard Art Institute and was one of the first artists to develop what became known as the California Style of watercolor painting.

In the early 1930s, he continued teaching and painting and took further studies in Paris. His watercolors were being exhibited in museum shows throughout America and he was receiving wide acclaim and numerous awards. By 1935, he was also working at the Walt Disney Studios where he taught art and color theory while working on animated films. Among the many classic films he worked on were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia and The Three Caballeros. In 1938, Dike served as president of the California Water Color Society.

After World War II, Dike left Disney and went back into teaching and painting full time. He and Rex Brandt formed the highly successful Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting and during regular school months, he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute. It was at this time that Dikes watercolors became more modern looking. He began using calligraphy in very creative ways and incorporating geometric abstractionist ideas into his work.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, he was a Professor of Art at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School. He was an inspiration to many well-known artists who came out of these schools, and was honored with the title of Professor Emeritus when he retired. In addition to living in Claremont and painting at Balboa Bay, Dike also built a second home in Cambria on the central California coast. Harbors, driftwood, figures on the beach and dramatic rock formations all became subjects for his many abstract watercolors of this era. Dike is remembered as a thoughtful, caring teacher and is one of the main innovators in the development of the watercolor painting movement in California.

Biographical information:

Interview with Phil Dike, 1983.

Biography courtesy of California Watercolors 1850-1970,

©2003 Hillcrest Press, Inc.

California Watercolor


2011 Nelson, Harold (Editor) * The House that Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomono Valley, 1945-1985 (Huntington Library Exhibition)

2005 Davenport, Ray Davenport's Art Reference: The Gold Edition

2005 Inc. -

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson (Editor) The Artists Bluebook 34,000 North American Artists to March 2005

2004 California Heritage Museum * Everyday Life in California, Regional Watercolors, 1930-1960

2002 Hughes, Edan Milton Artists in California: 1786-1940

(Two Volumes)

2002 Anderson, Susan; Janet Blake * California Holiday: The E Gene Crain Collection (Laguna Art Museum)

2002 McClelland, Gordon T; Jay T. Last California Watercolors 1850-1970, An Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary

1999 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor) Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975 3 Volumes

1998 Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media

1996 Karlstrom, Paul J (editor) On the Edge of America California Modernist Art, 1900-1950

1995 Lovoos, Janet; G McClelland Phil Dyke

1994 Skolnick, Arnold/Suzan Campbell Paintings of the Southwest

1993 Southwest Art The Red Book Western American Price Index

1993 Southwest Art Master Index 1971-1993 Artists in Southwest Art

1992 Hough, Katherine * Transforming the Western Image in 20th Century American Art

1992 Stern, Jean; Janet Blake Doninik and Harvey L. Jones Selections from the Irvine Museum

1991 Moure, Nancy D.W. * Scenes of California Light, 1930-1950 (Todd Madigan Gallery)

1991 Westphal, Ruth; Janet B Dominik American Scene Painting, California 1930s and 1940s

1991 Falk, Peter Hastings * Biennial Exhibition Record of the Corcoran Gallery of Art

1991 Todd Madigan Gallery * Scenes of California Life 1930-19

1991 Fort, Ilene/Michael Quick American Art A Catalogue/Los Angeles County

1990 Falk, Peter Hastings * Annual Exhibition Record, National Academy of Design 1901-1950

1990 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor) * The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago

1989 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor) * Annual Exhibition Record, 1914-68, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

1989 Downey Museum of Art Views of Los Angeles in the 1930's and 1940's

1989 Hughes, Edan Milton Artists in California, 1786-1940

1988 Lovoos, Janice & G McLelland Phil Dike

1987 Perine, Robert The California Romantics: Harbingers of Watercolorism

1986 Jaques Cattell Press Who's Who in American Art-1986 1986

1985 McClelland, Gordon T; Jay Last The California Style Watercolor Artists 1925-1955

1985 Perine, Robert Chouinard: An Art Vision Betrayed: A History of the Chouinard Art Institute

1985 Falk, Peter Hastings (Editor) Who Was Who in American Art: Artists Active Between 1898-1947:

1984 Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall Southern California Art Publication 3, Dictionary

1981 Betts, Edward Creative Seascape Painting

1980 Wall, Nancy Dustin Painting and Sculpture in Los Angeles, 1900-1945

1980 Ballinger, James K * Visitors to Arizona 1846-1980

1979 Editor, Laguna Beach Museum Southern California Artists 1890-1940

1976 Weller, Allen S * Watercolor U S A National Invatational Exhibit

1976 Jaques Cattell Press Who's Who in American Art, 1976 12th Edition

1975 Editor, Smithsonian Smithsonian Archives of American Art: Checklist of the Collection

1973 Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall * California Watercolor Society Index to Exhibitions 1921-1954

1972 Phoenix Art Museum * Today's Artist and the West By Members of the National Academy

1966 Fabri, Ralph * The American Watercolor Society The First Hundred Years/History

1956 Arizona State College Arizona State College Collection American Art

1954 Clark, Eliot History of the National Academy of Design, 1825-1953

1954 Arizona State University The Arizona State College Collection of American Art

1950 Metropolitan Museum of Art * American Painting Today 1950 A National Competitive Exhibition

1945 Watson, Ernest W/Norman Kent Watercolor Demonstrated

1937 Breckinridge, Mrs. H. (essay) * Second National Exhibition of American Art Summer 1937

1935 Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge Index of Artists: International-Biographical Two Volumes: Includes 1940 Index

Magazine articles:

American Art Review 2003 August Art on View Editors, American Art Review

Southwest Art 2003 August News From the California Art Scene Gangelhoff, Bonnie

American Art Review 2002 June California Holiday: E. Gene Crain Anderson, Susan

Southwest Art 2002 May California Holiday Gangelhoff, Bonnie

Art in America 2001 April Assessing the Golden State Duncan, Michael

Southwest Art 2000 January A Passion for California Gangelhoff, Bonnie

Southwest Art 1999 May Trauma, Tradition, and Transformation May, Stephen

American Art Review 1998 February California Style-1930s and 40s Stary-Sheets, David




 California Watercolor Society-1948


Phil Dike and Rex Brandt teaching a class-Corona del Mar-1947