Born to talented and artistic parents, painter Julian Onderdonk would lead a remarkable, though tragically short, life. By the age of ten he had received his first award for a watercolor exhibited at the Dallas State Fair.
He had been trained by his father, noted artist Robert Onderdonk, since a very young age, and had mastered drawing and sketching long before he would be allowed to paint. His mastery of his craft at such an early age allowed him to enjoy commercial success, especially towards the end of his life.
He was sent to the West Texas Military Academy in 1898, where he worked as the editor of the magazine "Bugle Notes". After graduation he entered the Art Students League in New York where he would train the Kenyon Cox, Robert Henri, Frank DuMond and William Merritt Chase. During this time Onderdonk's particular style was being refined and sharpened.
After he married in 1902, his need for a steady income set him to work at restoration and "pot boilers" that sold for little money. Additionally, he would accept work organizing the Dallas Fair Association's art exhibit in 1906 - a task he would continue throughout the rest of his life. Taking the work required relocation to Texas, and Onderdonk and his wife settled in San Antonio, though he made annual trips to New York as well.
It was here that the subject for his "blue bonnet" landscapes would allow Onderdonk to win recognition and sell frequently enough to permit painting to become his full time career.
His approach to the landscape by this era was influenced by the progressive Impressionists of the New York area as well as his early tonalist style that was from the training he received under his father.
By 1922 Onderdonk could barely keep up with the commissions and work requests flooding into his studio. He became a critical and active member of the Texas art community, becoming a life member of the San Antonio Art League and helping to arrange the 1922 Dallas Fair.
He died in 1922, from suspected appendicitis. His works are in the collections of many major museums, including those in Texas, New York, and Dallas.