Painting World War II: The California Watercolor Artists

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The California Water Color Society was an important presence in American art in the 1930s through 1970s. The painters had been perfecting their abilities to document everyday life when World War II came along. Their medium was portable, cheap and immediate—well-suited to capturing the war domestically and on the front lines. Life magazine commissioned some of the artists—among them, Barse Miller, Paul Sample, and Fletcher Martin—to depict preparations for conflict.

Barse Miller, "Waving Goodbye and Good Luck"

Now, for the first time, The Oceanside Museum of Art has collected World War II watercolors by California artists. The exhibit–Painting World War II—is curated by Glen Knowles, an art professor at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster.

Some of the artists represented are big names in California art—Milford Zornes, Millard Sheets, Phil Paradise—and many also painted in the desert, influencing the growing ranks of Smoketree Painters. Zornes, for instance, painted a fresco at the Ramona Bowl in Hemet.

Phil Paradise, "Evening on the Home Front"

Painting World War II is on view through October 3rd. On Thursday, May 20th, curator Knowles presents a “Walk and Talk” through the exhibit.

Don’t miss the accompanying exhibit (through June 4th): The Things They Carried: World War II Trench Art. These are handcrafted pieces by soldiers who made art out of shell casings, bullets, and tank and aircraft parts.  And if you are in the San Diego area before June 6th, don’t forget the Faces of the Frontier photography exhibit at the San Diego History Center.

For more information, see or call (760) 435-3721.