The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard: From the Collection of Bill and Flo Caddell

University Press of Kentucky, 2021

Harlan Hubbard (1900–1988), a Kentucky writer, environmentalist, and artist, spent many years trying to rediscover and revive the vanishing language of landscape in his watercolor paintings. Known for their sense of drifting movement and their depiction of the natural way of life fondly associated with Hubbard, they inexplicably remain his least studied artworks, despite presenting some of the best evidence of Hubbard’s place in the history of landscape painting.

The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard not only argues for Hubbard’s place in the art historical canon but also highlights and analyzes the artist’s own voice. In this unique collection, more than two hundred watercolors are interspersed with anecdotes from those who knew Hubbard or drew inspiration from his work, offering a personal meditation on a deeply influential artist and serving as an invitation to those who have yet to discover him.


The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard honors Hubbard’s legacy as an accomplished and celebrated painter of his beloved Ohio River country. Through these lesser-known watercolors, and in entries from Hubbard’s journals, we recognize his steadfast loyalty to painting landscapes that are, in his words, ‘as real as the rain and stones.’ This great gift, newly arrived from Jessica Whitehead and Bill and Flo Caddell, is a grand collection from one of our most treasured artists.

~Ron Ellis, editor of Of Woods and Waters: A Kentucky Outdoors Reader

Harlan Hubbard painted a world blazing with colors and charged with energy, as if the movement of his brush were powered by the soil, waters, and sky. Even human artifacts, from barns to riverboats, shimmer with vitality, as if they might burst into bloom, offering those of us who live here in the Ohio Valley a dynamic and cherishing vision of our home ground.

~Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Way of Imagination

Harlan Hubbard was a nature mystic, an artist who rambled over the earth ‘taking notes’ in watercolor on the sights that spoke to him.  To me, having lived so long among Harlan’s framed, finished oils and acrylics, the images in this much-anticipated book come as a bright shock:  immediately recognizable as Harlan’s work, yet with a vividness and energy that capture the very instants of his inspiration.

~Judith Moffett, author of Tarzan in Kentucky

The love Anna and Harlan Hubbard had for the natural world is everywhere in this wonder-filled book. Each page holds another revelation! Savoring Harlan’s watercolors is like spending time with the Hubbards. What a gift! We owe Flo and Bill Caddell our unending gratitude for gathering these beautiful works.

~Morgan C. Atkinson, director of Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard

This book offers a beautiful and refreshing journey through the stunning visual poetry of Harlan Hubbard’s watercolors and the eloquent prose of the contributing authors, uniting the art and life of Hubbard into an inner vision centered on nature, beauty, and harmony. The well-founded and insightful analysis of the watercolors in the context of contemporary American art and traditional East Asian art reveals their significance and warrants a reevaluation of the artistic stature of Hubbard.

~Dr. Xiaolong Wu, professor of art history at Hanover College and author of Material Culture, Power, and Identity in Ancient China