Delbert Gist was born in rural Oklahoma and was a student of Russian American master Sergei Bongart in Los Angeles. Later from 1967-1971, he became an instructor at the Northwest Nazarene College and acquired his master of fine arts from the University of Idaho. In 1975 he was elected as a member of the American Watercolor Society.
"I think that above all else students should be making an effort to paint what they see, to put a lot of effort into just seeing, and to master the fundamentals. Expression can be put off till later. Learning to handle paint, to draw, to render correct value and color relationships is of primary importance for students. A teacher can help with these basic things but one must be completely independent when he makes a personal expression. What a person feels inside himself, what he wants to express, is really none of the teacher's business..."