By 1948 they were back in Berkeley, north of the campus, in a small two room apartment with another child on the way. Rex had a studio in San Francisco in the famous Montgomery Block building where many artists and bohemian types had their quarters. He attended classes at The California School of Fine Arts on Chestnut Street, studying under painter David Park.
In this time he began to define what his voice as a painter would become, exploring varieties of figurative painting styles in both watercolor and oil paint. He drew constantly, filling notebooks with drawings and exploring block printing and lithography. For a time he experimented with photography after buying a Speed Graphic camera. He photographed his daughter, clothed and nude, as only a serious artist would. In time he abandoned the camera due to expense. While Margaret visited him he taught her to sit still and he began to paint her.
Renee helped out with expenses to a moderate degree by working in a bookstore south of the University of California campus.