Monday, December 13, 2010

Haddon Sundblom's Early Years

Haddon Sundblom was born in June, 1899 in Muskegon, Michigan, the youngest of ten children.


His mother died when he was 13 years old.


Young Haddon dropped out of school and began working to help support the family. "... and I've been working ever since," he once joked to an interviewer.


Being an 8th Grade drop-out didn't deter Sundblom from getting a proper education. In the June '56 issue of American Artist, he tells Frederic Whitaker, "A wise guy once said, 'All that Sunny knows he learned at his mother's knee... and other low joints,' which is untrue."

In fact Sundblom went to great lengths to continue educating himself.


He continuously attended night school "studying something or other," as he put it, including three years of Architecture at Austin High and Armour Tech, three years of Commerce via a correspondence course from the Alexander Hamilton Institute, four years of night classes at the Chicago Art Institute and then another three-and-a-half years at the American Academy of Art.


But perhaps even more important was Sundblom's on-the-job education. He told Whitaker, "In 1920 I got a job with the Charles Everett Johnson Studio [in Chicago] as an apprentice. They boasted a galaxy of stars. I ran errands, washed brushes, etc. for Mac Barclay..."


"Andy Loomis..."


"Will Foster, Frank Snapp, Harry Timmins, Maurice Logan..."


"Roy Spreter..."


"... Vaughn Flannery and Walter Stocklin, to mention just a few. One was bound to learn something in that kind of company!"


Continued tomorrow...

* Thanks to Tom Watson for sharing the early Haddon Sundblom images in today's post with us!

* Thanks also to Aron Gagliardo for providing the scan of Haddon Sundblom's 1923 original record card from his night school classes at the American Academy of Art.

* The four step portrait painting image by Andrew Loomis is from his book, "Creative Illustration" and the Maurice Logan image is courtesy of Bruce Hettema


  1. I'm curious...would he have painted the piece with the kid in bed like that , or was the blue colour dropped in mechanically by the art director/client?


  2. Sorry, me again... asking without doing any research first, but...seen no mention of Sorolla, Zorn or Sargent as influence on Sundblom...there's gotta be a connection...

  3. he, again.. OK, here's my answer..

  4. Dang, Scott; You're just not going to let me unfold this story one step at a time, are you? Oh well. ;^)

  5. Oh they are all glorious! Thank you for finding them for us. xx

  6. Whoops! far be from me!
    Carry on, sir!

  7. I like these so much more than the Coke stuff.It's the atmosphere he creates,the lighting and command of tonal values. None of these would look out of place in a 'proper' art gallery alongside his idols.

  8. I'm a relative of Haddon's and would love more than anything to acquire some of his original work. Does anyone have any idea where i could find any pieces? I've looked into galleries that have some of his pin up work, but they tend to be pretty far out of my price range. I'm wondering if there is knowledge of any of his work possibly laying around one of his former places of employemnt?

    Any ideas would be helpful.



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