Harold H. Kolb (1897-1982) was born in Winchester MA and educated in the public schools of Winchester, Everett and Somerville, and the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, whose faculty included turn-of-the-century artists Philip Hale and William James II. After serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, he went to work for the Boston Record American, where he was employed as a commercial artist for 46 years, and, for the latter half of that time, as director of the advertising art department.
In addition to his professional work as a commercial artist, Kolb continued his fine arts career in off-duty hours, producing oil paintings (the medium in which he was primarily trained), charcoals, pencil sketches, acrylics, and an occasional watercolor; painting one or two of the latter each year throughout the 1940s and 50s. He became increasingly interested in the challenge of watercolor painting -- "the hardest medium," he often said -- and in the 1960s, began a watercolor career in earnest while still working for the Record American. When he retired from the newspaper business in 1969 at the age of 71, he turned his full attention to watercolors, painting almost every day from early morning to noon. Of the 133 watercolors that are extant, about 80% were produced after Kolb had reached the age of 65, and a number of his best works were painted in his 70s and early 80s. He found this autumnal flourish -- the fulfillment of the fine arts goals that he had set aside a half century earlier to earn a living -- very satisfying, and the dedication he put into his painting seemed to keep him young in both appearance and spirit. After many years of being a "commercial artist," he finally came to think of himself simply, and more profoundly, as an artist.
Kolb was a member of the Boston Watercolor Society, the Wellesley Society of Artists, and the Concord Art Society. He won a number of awards for his paintings, as he had for his commercial work. His watercolors have been exhibited at the Jordan Marsh shows, the Dodgehouse Gallery of Chatham, the Ogunquit Art Center, the Concord Art Society Gallery, Babson Institute, and the University of Virginia.