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Milford Zornes (1908-2008)

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American

Milford Zornes was born and raised in Oklahoma and he finished high school in California. After spending a couple years hitch-hiking across the USA he ended up studying art in 1927 at the Otis Art Institute. His watercolor instructor was Millard Sheets, a gifted painter and teacher, who joined Zornes as member of the “California Group.”

Mr. Zornes started winning awards for his work by 1933 and soon found himself working as a P.W.A.P. artist in the New Deal, painting murals in government and public buildings. In appreciation he was given a one man show in Washington, D.C. where president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and his wife picked a Zornes painting to hang in the White House.

He was drafted in 1943, and after serving as a traveling artist in the U.S. Army in World War II, Mr. Zornes returned to California to help lead the en plein air movement of the “California Style” artists.

He worked alongside Millard Sheets, Rex Brandt, Phil Dike and others depicting the brightly lit western landscape in a direct, bold and colorful manner. Mr. Zornes was a passionate and popular watercolor instructor and he traveled world-wide teaching watercolor painting workshops.

During his career he worked as a teacher at Otis, a theatre Art Director in Claremont California, and a fine artist. In 1994 he received the American Artist Achievement award from American Artist magazine. Mr. Zornes continued painting and giving watercolor workshops until his death at the age of 100.

Milford Zornes paintings can be found in many collections and museums including the White House, the Library of Congress Collection, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

— Watercolor Masters: Milford Zornes © 2010 Greg Conley —