"Internationally-known watercolorist Rex Brandt who had a home on Shaw Island for many years, died of a heart attack in his Corona del Mar, Calif., home March 21. He was 85. Westways magazine called Brandt "one of the central figures in California Art in the mid-20th century." E. Gene Crain, the foremost collector of Brandt's paintings, said "they are as good as any work in a water-based medium that has ever been painted anywhere at any time."

Rexford Brandt was born in San Diego on Sept. 12, 1914. He received his bachelor's degree at the University of California Berkeley campus, and did graduate work at Stanford University. Brandt and his wife, artist-sculptor Joan Irving, shared their home, "Blue Sky," at Corona del Mar with hundreds of students over the years, conducting workshops not only in California but in the Northwest - at La Conner, Orcas Island and San Juan Island. The Brandts established a second home on Shaw Island, where they are remembered by their many friends. "No way are we able to find words to describe how much Rex and Joan Brandt enhanced the lives of all who knew them on Shaw," Jerry Griffing wrote. "They donated time and money and works of art to our library and community club. They were such good neighbors, working, sketching, sailing, picnicking, and sharing the joys of nature and island life. " After Joan died in 1995, Rex never returned to visit our island. It is hard to think of one without the other."

The Brandts were guest instructors at the University of Southern California, the University of Vermont, the Chouinard Institute and at painting classes in Spain, Italy, France and Mexico, as well as many in the United States. Brandt was a prolific writer and published more than 11 books including,Watercolor Landscape and Watercolor Technique, The Artist's Sketchbook and Its Uses, and The Winning Ways of Watercolor. In the words of this enthusiastic teacher and mentor: "It's a good feeling, painting at my easel outdoors. Dry grasses rustle. Smells drift like wisps of smoke. The earth pushes against my shoes. The sun burns the tops of my ears." His students who were privileged to share his talent, his wit, wisdom and experience filled their sketchbooks with lectures and anecdotes and splashed color with new awareness, following his happy admonitions, "Paint from your knees! Paint from your toes!"

Research Source:, material provided by American Eagle Fine Art