Thomas Olson grew up in Oakland. He graduated from Hayward High in 1945. He served in Korea two years and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
After graduating, he secured a position as cow tester for Stanislaus County for two years before going into business for himself as a dairy man. He eventually went to work as a San Joaquin County health inspector where he was employed until 1977.
That's the year Olson opted to make his living as an artist. His paintings and drawings are highly prized in private collections throughout California. His works often center on California history and rural life.
Among his art awards are the Mayors Committee on the Arts Recognition Award in 1992, having his paintings featured at the National League of American Pen, as well as numerous gallery awards.
He helped organize Manteca's first Artists' Guild and Mantecas Arts in the Park program. He has conducted numerous painting demonstrations in Northern California.