List of Selected Works and Comments

, 1934
oil on canvas
39 5/8 x 49 3/4 inches
The E. Gene Crain Collection


This moody work has often been thought of as a metaphor for the Great Depression. However, the deserted farm depicted is actually in the area that was going to be flooded as a result of construction of the Prado Dam. The white stallion, which often appears in legendary tales, watches over the scene. Sheets, who was passionate about horses, often included the iconic white stallion in his paintings of horses.

Houses Near
Kahana Bay, 1935
watercolor on paper
sheet 13 1/2 x 22 5/8 inches
The E. Gene Crain Collection

Sheets made two trips to Hawaii in the 1930s—in 1934 and 1935. In this work he begins to explore the stylization of forms that would become the hallmark of his mature work. There will be three or four works in the exhibition from his 1930s Hawaii trips.


The Variety Store, Guaymas
, c. 1937
watercolor on Arches paper
sheet 14-1/2 x 22-3/8 inches
The E. Gene Crain Collection


During the 1930s and early 1940s, Sheets focused on developing his teaching career and raising a family. Precluded by these responsibilities from making long, international trips, instead he took trips of short duration, from long weekends to two weeks. Mexico was the closest locale that afforded him an opportunity to experience another culture, and he often spent the winter semester break there, leaving the day after Christmas. A favorite destination was the coastal town of Guaymas. There he would sketch, paint, and look for Pre-Columbian art, which he avidly collected throughout his lifetime. This painting was reproduced in Scribner's Magazine in April 1937.

Symphony Under the Stars
, 1956
watercolor on paper
22 x 30 inches
Collection of Jan and Mark Hilbert

Sheets was contracted by United Airlines to produce images for their calendars. Between 1950 and 1967 he created over 100 paintings, traveling throughout the United States in search of subject matter. The works tend to be more illustrative than his other paintings. Symphony Under the Stars, a depcition of the Hollywood Bowl, is one of the more dramatic. Of the works, Sheets said that his goal was not  “to reproduce facts, but to transmit the feeling of being there.”

Surf Riders,
Mazatlan, 1968
watercolor on paper
sight 21 1/4 x 29 1/8 inches
The E. Gene Crain Collection



This is a joyful, exuberant painting that combines two favorite things of the artist—Mexico and its people and horses. By the mid 1960s Sheets had developed his mature style, which included stylized abstraction and patterning. The result are works that appear like tapestries. The owner of this painting, Gene Crain, often remarks on the mysterious serpent-like creature in the background, which is, of course, the distant shoreline.

Forever Moving,
India, 1980
watercolor on paper
sheet 29 x 40 1/2 inches
Courtesy Michael Johnson Fine Arts

India became one of Sheets’ favorite painting locales. He first visited there in 1943 as a Life magazine artist-correspondent assigned to the China-India-Burma front. The visit was both inspirational and horrifying. India was undergoing a severe famine that killed 3 million people, a tragic result of the Japanesse invasion of Burma and the disruption of crop production. Yet Sheets was deeply moved by the Indian people and their ability to persevere. Forever Moving, a title Sheets also chose for other works, alludes to the ever-constant movement of people as they go about their daily lives.

Junk Boats on Calm Seas
, 1981
watercolor on wove-screen paper
sheet 21 7/8 x 29 7/8 inches
The Buck Collection, Laguna Beach, California


Sheets also made several trips to Asia. This is a scene in the harbor of Hong Kong, a serene depiction of the harbor, perhaps at the end of day. In his mature works, Sheets usually employed an opaque method in the application of watercolor pigments. Here, however, he has executed the sky with transparent washes, achieving a luminous, etheral result.

Village of the
Cameroon, Africa, 1982
watercolor on paper
sheet 29 x 40 inches
The Buck Collection, Laguna Beach, California

Millard’s first trip to West Africa in February 1979 came about after he saw slides if the region from the trip of a friend. In her journal (Mary Baskerville Sheets, A West African Journal (Gualala, California: Millard Sheets, 1980), his wife, Mary, recalled: "Millard was overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the Africans, the infinite variety and richness of their garments, the excitement and the dazzling color of the teeming markets, the stunning architecture of the sculptured mosques, and the simple elegance of the mud villages. He knew that he could get wonderful material for his painting, unlike anything he had found on other travels.”

For the Complete essays and exihibition images. click here


Gallery Store

Millard Sheets Center for the Arts at Fairplex
1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, CA 91768 Phone: (909) 865-4560