Painting the coast redwoods on the Russian River, Sonoma County.

Tilden Daken–Artist and Adventurer

Tilden is renowned for his far-flung painting expeditions, from the ruggedness of the High Sierra to the depths of the Pacific Ocean in a diving bell. He was known over the years as the fresco painter, the painter of the Valley of the Moon, the redwoods painter, the painter of the National Parks, the “key of red” painter, the beneath the sea painter, the painter of Mexican deserts, the Hollywood painter, and the Mill Valley painter.  One of the most adventurous painters in the West, and a legend in his time, he packed more into his 58 years than most people could muster in nine lives. His deeply rooted passion for art, nature, color and music began when he was a child and remained until his last dying breath. His landscapes en plein air speak volumes about his zeal for adventure and his unyielding ambition.  He also taught art classes throughout much of his life and penned autobiographical short stories chronicling some of his most celebrated adventures. See His Short Stories

Born in Illinois and raised in Sacramento, his story begins and ends in California’s Mother Lode–he is buried in the historic Pioneer Cemetery in Georgetown, in Eldorado County.

This news article, written more than 90 years ago, hits some of the highlights of his life:

Few men have had such varied experiences as Tilden Dakin. Whether he was braving the Mexican war between Villa and Carranza, where he was wounded three times and once held prisoner for eight weeks, or “dancing around like a crazy man” to keep from freezing to death while painting the Piute Pass in midwinter; facing the unknown terrors of the ocean depths to secure true submarine views; tempting the headhunters of New Guinea or riding the brake beams with his friend Jack London—always he thought of his art and sought to put true pictures of the world around him on canvas. That he has succeeded is evidenced by the fact that his pictures may be found in Italy, Norway, Holland, Japan and Great Britain, as well as in all parts of our own country. And everywhere they have met with acclaim.
“Tilden Dakin to Make Music Key Paintings,” Berkeley Daily Gazette, October 6, 1927.

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Tilden Daken painting on the rim of the World, Lake Arrowhead, 1923.

Tilden Daken painting on the Rim of the World, Lake Arrowhead, 1923.

Tilden Daken painting on the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915.

Tilden Daken painting on the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915.