The High Sierra paintings
Daken painted practically every peak, canyon, lake, and river in the High Sierra. During the epic winter of 1922, he completed a series of 100 paintings in the Sierra Nevada, known as the “Northern California Alps” collection–one of his greatest legacies. He often led month-long expeditions into the high country with other artists, writers, and poets, and became known as the “Official Painter of the National Parks of the United States.”
The Countryside paintings
Daken painted thousands of serene countryside scenes in locations throughout Northern and Southern California and beyond, including Oregon (the Rogue River), Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.
The Redwoods paintings
Daken’s passion for the redwoods spanned a lifetime. He painted hundreds of scenes of the giant sequoias and coast redwoods, including: the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Marin County’s Muir Woods, Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, the Armstrong Redwoods, Big Basin Redwoods, Calaveras Grove, Kings Canyon, Humboldt Redwoods, Sonoma County’s Russian River, and many more. He was active in Save the Redwoods for much of his life.
The Marine Art paintings
Daken briefly studied marine art—sea painting—under Russian born marine painter Herman Richard Dietz. Wildly expanding the genre, Daken is one of the few artists in history to have painted beneath the sea. He painted over 200 underwater seascapes in the Pacific Ocean while submerged 150 feet in a custom-designed diving bell he called the Submarine Studio—in Hawaii, Mexico, Baja California, the Channel Islands, and other coastal areas of Southern California.
The Key of Red paintings
Daken was known for a time as the “red painter.” While living in Mexico during the revolution, he developed a passion for painting landscapes in the red palette—inspired by Mazatlan sunsets and the jagged red mountains of the Sierra Madre. In the 1920s, during his Hollywood years, he promoted his “key of red” technique: he would sit before an audience and paint quickly in red tones, in rhythm to the accompaniment of noted musicians playing classical music, which he loved. He sought to demonstrate to the audience the synergistic relationship that he saw between color and music.