Herb Olsen was an American watercolor artist. He was born in Chicago Illinois and studied at the Art Institute and the American Academy of Art, where he also taught for ten years. He started his career as an oil painter, but as watercolor was more widely accepted as a fine art medium rather than one just for illustration, he shifted his focus. He preferred the fast-drying characteristics of the paint.
Olsen and his wife would spend their weekends driving though the countryside of Connecticut and New York. His wife would drive so Olsen could make quick sketches of the passing landscapes as inspiration. Much like these sketches he would create his watercolor in the same speed believing that paintings should be painted on the spot.
Olsen started to be widely recognized as a watercolor artist. He began to teach courses locally and regionally. His paintings appeared on the covers and as illustrations for many books and magazines. He was one of 57 living American watercolor artists who were represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the mid-1950 the Olsen’s moved to Westport where he died in 1973 at the age of 68.