Russell Green was born in Traer, Iowa. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933, he returned to Iowa to begin teaching. In 1935, approximately the time he completed Thanksgiving, he served as a private art teacher in Sioux City. He also had a one-person exhibition of his work at the Sioux City School of Music, Dramatic Art and Dancing, which was located in the Commerce Building. The exhibition included 81 oil paintings, watercolors and prints.