Phil Dike, an eminent California artist, was born in Redlands, California on April 6, 1906. After completing high school there, he received a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he studied with E. Tolles Chamberlin and Clarence Hinkle from 1924 to 1928. It was here that he first worked in water colors becoming a member of the California Water Color Society in 1927. During 1928 and 1929, Dike studied with George Bridgman, Frank Vincent DuMond and George Luks in New York, returning to teach at Chouinard from 1929 to1934 except for a brief tour of Europe during 1931. It was during this period that Dike became one of the first artists to develop what became known as the California Style of watercolor painting.
He married Betty Love Woodward in 1933 and, in 1935 he went to work for Walt Disney studios. This was the height of Disney’s production of animated feature films and Dike was employed to teach drawing composition to Disney’s animators and work as a sketch artist, advisor and color coordinator on films including Snow White and Fantasia.
By the time he left Disney in 1945, he had become a well-known artist receiving many important awards and having several one man shows. From 1946 to 1950 he returned to Chouinard to teach painting classes and from 1947 to 1955 he also taught at the Rex Brandt – Phil Dike Summer School of Painting in Corona del Mar, California. In 1950 the Dikes, with their son Woody, moved to Claremont, California where he was a professor of art at Scripps College and at Claremont Graduate School. It was there that he founded an important school of art with Phil Paradise and Millard Sheets in which they created the “California Style” of watercolor painting.
In 1954, Phil Dike purchased a summer home in Cambria and, after that, he spent a great deal of time in the Big Sur area which he painted prodigiously. By 1970 he retired from the Claremont Colleges as Professor Emeritus.
His Cambria house, located at 1730 Sandown Place near the corner of Berwick, was the first one designed and built in Cambria by architect Warren Leopold around 1947 and is sometimes referred to as the “crazy house” by locals because of the lack of right angles in the design. Leopold was an artist in his own right.
By the time Phil Dike passed away in 1990, he had had dozens of one man shows and received countless awards for his work, especially his water colors.
For more information and to see pictures of his work, read Phil Dike, by Janice Lovoos and Gordon T. McClelland which is available at the Cambria Library.