The artist is Andrew Severin Gunderson (Andy), who is my grandfather.
He was born June 16, 1888, In Wallingford, Iowa, and died September 4, 1964, in Monee, Illinois, where he had lived for most of his adult life. He married Ada Waldo (born December 5, 1891, in Lamar, Colorado; died March 20, 1965, in Monee, Illinois) on October 12, 1910. His father and mother were both of Norwegian descent.
He had minimal formal schooling, and was completely self-taught in art. He was a professional artist in Chicago at age 15, and had his own studio at age 18. He also had an art store in Chicago (the A. Gunderson Art Company). In 1915, he moved to Monee, Illinois, a small farming town south of Chicago, where he set up a studio in his home. He retired in the late 1950s, although he never stopped completely. He intentionally priced his pictures low because he thought everyone needed beauty in their lives.
For many years, he sold pictures through the Mages (later Vilas-Mages) framing house catalog, making original pictures from the same scene. In later years, he would draw the same scene in any requested size. Although the scene is always the same, the proportions of each picture are perfect.
Andy did not find either the colors or the texture of commercial pastels to be adequate, so he made his own. He mixed the colors himself, and created the pastels, which are softer than commercial pastels; the formula is only known to members of his immediate family. He also coated thin paperboard with a paste and grit mixture to produce the right texture.
Most of Andyâ€™s pictures are landscapes; there are some seascapes and still life. These pictures are not of places that actually exist, but were drawn from his imagination. There is almost always water in these pictures, and trees (often white birch), and quite often a dirt road. There is also a feeling of serenity in his work, which is hard to describe.
Man older pictures are signed "A GUNDERSON"; later pictures are signed "GUNDERSON", although sometimes it looks like "Gundarson". There are no unsigned pastels by Andy, since he always signed the picture when it was finished. I can remember drawing pictures on his back porch when I was very young; Andy would not look at it until it was signed. If it wasnâ€™t signed, it either wasnâ€™t finished, or it wasnâ€™t art.