Chris Olson was born in rural Oshkosh and moved throughout his childhood to surrounding rural areas including Fremont and Weyauwega, where his family was engaged in farming.
A self-taught artist with a natural drive to draw and paint, an uncle, who was an artist, provided Chris with oils and brushes during his grade school years. A Kiwanis Club award allowed him to study in Cedarburg with artist George Obertauger of the Chicago Art Institute. While this opportunity encouraged Chris to continue to pursue art as a career he had no success in selling his artwork locally and no other opportunity for further art training.
Subsequently he worked as a railroad section laborer, store clerk, and laborer in a flour mill to support himself while continuing to paint.
In the early 1930’s he and his father purchased a 40-acre farm in Omro, Wisconsin, where he worked summers at a nursery. In 1935, Olson took several of his paintings to Niles Behncke, the Director of the Oshkosh Public Museum who recommended him for the New Deal Arts Project. Olson produced many competent pieces of artwork over t...