At 14 years of age Sam Hyde Harris was already a successful commercial artist. A 1903 letter of recommendation from Andre & Sleigh, stated that, “We have the pleasure in stating that Samuel Harris (aged 14 ½ years) has given every satisfaction during the 8 or 9 months he has been engaged in our Artists Department.”
After moving to California with his family Harris got a job as painter of signs, billboards and hand-lettered show cards in 1906. He developed a reputation for doing excellent commercial work and opened his own commercial art studio by 1914. His commercial art business received a boost in 1920 when he was hired by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company to work on their poster advertising. He was later hired to do artwork Southern Pacific Railways as well.
He began studying painting with Hanson Puthuff in 1906, and continued studying throughout much of his life. As early as 1920 he was exhibiting with the California Art Club. He continued exhibiting his paintings for the next fifty plus years including with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California, the Pacific Advertising Club Association (1929), the San Gabriel Artists Guild, the Laguna Beach Art Association and many other venues.
He won countless awards in hundreds of exhibitions throughout Southern and Northern California. Sam Hyde Harris was “Highly recognizable because of his six-foot-three stature and cigar.” He “was known for his jovial personality and his love for his adopted California and her landscape.” He preferred painting en plein air to the studio. He loved the outdoors. Harris’s paintings employ a progressive composition, pushing the viewers eye to an unexpected place. He taught art classes at the Chouinard School of Art (1935) and for many Clubs and Groups.
He met and married Marion Dodge in 1945. They moved to Alhambra in 1946. He bought Jack Wilkinson Smith’s “Artists’ Alley” studio on Champion Place in 1950. He loved looking at the San Gabriel Mountains from his Champion Place studio.