Back to the Artist Page


Landscape painter, etcher. Born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 21, 1879. After three seasons as a pitcher for Memphis and Nashville clubs, Otis abandoned a promising baseball career to pursue art. He first studied art at age 14 at the Art Institute of Chicago  followed by work at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and in New York at the Cooper Union, National Academy of Design, Art Students League, Brooklyn Academy, and with Robert Henri, William M. Chase, and John F. Carlson.
While maintaining a studio in Chicago, he traveled extensively, often in the company of Thomas Moran. Early in the century he lived in Colorado, Taos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In 1919 he moved to Los Angeles and maintained a studio in Burbank where he executed work for the movie studios and made frequent painting trips to the Indian reservations of New Mexico and Arizona. Moving to San Francisco in 1930, he established a studio in the former Arthur Putnam home and in 1934 built a home-studio at 907 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in the small town of Kentfield in Marin County. He taught hundreds of students during his lifetime; however, in 1939 he abandoned teaching to devote full time to painting. An Impressionist, today he is nationally recognized as a painter of mountain landscapes, sycamore and eucalyptus trees, and missions. A leader in conservation, he is known as the artistic father of Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation area. He died at his home in Kentfield on February 25, 1962.

Member: Palette and Chisel Club, Chicago; Chicago Society of Art; Cliff Dwellers of Chicago; Society of Western Artists (cofounder); Marin Society of Artists; Laguna Beach Art Association; California Art Club; Painters and Sculptor of Los Angeles; Salmagundi Club; Western Arts Academy Foundation.

Awards: California State Fair, 1925.

Works Held: Art Institute of Chicago; Hackley Gallery of Fine Art, Muskegon, Michigan; Smithsonian Institute; White House, Washington, D.C.

AAA 1929-33; WWAA 1936-62; CHS; Golden Gate Collection monograph; Grace Hartley, niece; Southern California Artists 1890-1940.