Duval Eliot Biography

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Duval Eliot (1909-1990) Duval Eliot was born in Arkansas, and at a young age moved with her family to California.  After going to Hollywood High School for a while, she attended The Los Angeles Trade Technical College (then known as Frank Wiggins Trade School), studying Commercial Art and Design.  While there, she began her art career as a men’s fashion illustrator. Then, because of her immense interest in art, on graduating June 19, 1930, immediately enrolled in Art Center School in Los Angeles.  She studied landscape painting (watercolor and oil), portrait, and illustration with Barse Miller and life drawing with Joseph Henniger.  At Art Center she continued studying all facets of commercial art and simultaneously worked at the Columbia Advertising Agency designing newspaper layouts and fashion illustrations for the major Los Angeles department stores such as I. Magnin, The Broadway, I. Miller, Wetherby Kayser, and Sak’s in Beverly Hills, etc.

During this period, Duval met and fell in love with a fellow artist, Don Eliot, who was teaching sculpture at Stickney Art School in Pasadena part time while attending Art Center School on a scholarship.  On March 31, 1934 they eloped to Kingman, Arizona to be married, and then to the Grand Canyon for a camping honeymoon, thus embarking upon a life-long artistic collaboration.  

In 1937, Duval Eliot was asked to teach fashion illustration and layout at Art Center School in Los Angeles, her class was a required part of the curriculum. She taught students to understand how to draw figures with fashionable attire.  In 1941 she resigned her position at the Art Center in order to raise a family. Although she was invited to resume her teaching career at any time.

Throughout the 1940’s, Duval continued to amass a large body of watercolor landscapes of Southern California and the West, while illustrating for J.J. Hagarty.   Commercially, her prime focus was free-lance illustration, which could be created with a young child in tow, finding interesting work at the “ Western Family Magazine,” for whom she did illustrations for over ten years. She also illustrated children’s storybooks and textbooks for MacMillian and L.W. Stinger publishing houses. While also creating Fashion Advertisements and billboards in full color for Phelps & Terkel for several years, and also billboards for Silverwoods Department Store.  For this work, Duval received the Western Art Directors Award in 1946.

During the post World War II years, Duval honed her fine art techniques.  She studied with such notable artists as:  Barse Miller, Hardie Gramatky and Ejnar Hansen (watercolor) and also with Hansen, (landscape & portrait painting in oil).  In 1948 she won 1st Prize at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Exhibition at The Greek Theater in Griffith Park for her watercolor entitled “End of the Trail”. Her competition included Francis De Erdely, Lorser Feitelson, Conrad Buff, James Couper Wright, Frode N. Dann, Joshua Meador, Dan Lutz, and Charles Payzant.  

She also studied painting with Conrad Buff, J.C.Wright, design and abstract painting with Leonard Edmonson, 2 years in acrylic with Guy MacCoy, and silk-screen serigraphy with Mario De Perentes.  Duval also became close friends with Milford Zornes.  

When the freeway took their property in 1954, The Eliot's built their studio “dreamhouse” in Whiting Woods, La Crescenta, which was featured in Sunset Magazine.  Here, Duval finally had the “space” to produce an enormous body of silk-screen serigraphs.  Also during this period, she became interested in the ancient art of enamel on copper, studying with Jean Buckley.  

After experimenting with the powdered glass at extremely high temperatures, she began utilizing her extensive art background and transformed what previously was considered “craft” into a 3-dimensional art form. Forging the copper into bas-reliefs and sculpture.  Her numerous and sometimes enormous pieces were used by many well-known architects and designers of the time, such as Welton Beckett and Adele Faulkner.  Her enamel and hand-forged work ranged from small decorative pieces to large architectural panels for which she was commissioned by The Lytton Savings and Loan building on Sunset Blvd. (over 140 different designs), among others.      

Duval became active in “The Southern California Designer  Craftsmen”  (S.C.D.C.)  (as recording secretary, publicity chairman, and on the jury of admission for two years).  She won many awards and exhibited extensively throughout the 1950’s and1960’s at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery,  Pasadena Art Museum (paintings and enamels}, Gallery 333 on La Cienega, as well as colleges, demonstrating watercolor techniques, enamel techniques and even silversmithing (lost wax-casting).

Duval was also an active member, and on the board of “The Pasadena Society of Artists”, ”The Los Angeles Art Association”, and “Women Painters of the West”. 

In the mid 1960’s Duval renewed her art teaching career with the city of Glendale in its public art program at their Freemont Craft Center. There she taught enamel on copper, life drawing, watercolor, and silversmithing (Native American, traditional and modern).  

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Duval taught life drawing and advanced technique in watercolor at The Brand Library and Art Center. Resigning in 1987 at the age of 78, after teaching for 23 years  (1964 to 1987). 

California Watercolor is proud to represent the Duval Eliot family estate. For more information please view the family's website at www.duvaleliot.com.