Henry Varnum Poor entered Stanford as an economics major but graduated with a degree in fine art. After a year of study in London, Poor returned to California and taught at his alma mater. He eventually settled in Rockland County, New York, where he built a farmhouse and worked to establish himself as an artist. But his first gallery show was not a commercial success and to support himself he went to work as a potter, designing tiles for wealthy clients’ bathrooms. Fearing that his career was going downhill, Poor took his wife and young children to Paris so that he could focus on his painting. After he returned to New York, curators and critics praised his new work and from that time he built a successful career painting, designing homes, completing mural commissions, and working in ceramics.