Robert E. Wood, born in 1926 in Gardena, spent his childhood in Southern California. He earned a B.A. from Pomona College and an MFA from Claremont where he studied with Millard Sheets, Phil Dike and Jean Ames. Just after World War II, he began seriously studying watercolor painting and was influenced by Rex Brandt and Phil Dike. By the late 1940s, he was in a graduate program and already exhibiting watercolors in museum and gallery shows. His works from this period often depict regional subjects found near Claremont, where he was attending college, and harbor subjects near Corona del Mar and Newport Beach.
By the early 1960s, he was acknowledged as one of the premier California watercolorists to emerge during the postwar era. The personal style for which be become well-known, was clearly developing. While most of his works have been painted with transparent watercolors, he also freely incorporated opaque colors or other complimentary mediums if they improved a specific work of art. His paintings often balance areas of pure abstraction with stylized, but recognizable subject matter. Throughout his career, he divided his time between painting outdoors and working inside his studio.
Wood also established a career in teaching watercolor painting. He taught at the University of Minnesota, Otis Art Institute, Scripps College and the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting. Beginning in 1961, he held the position of Director of the Robert E. Wood School of Painting in Green Valley Lake, located in the San Bernardino Mountains. His book, Watercolor Workshop, was published by Watson Guptill in the early 1970s and has been reprinted three times. Wood also taught traveling watercolor workshops in Russia, Sweden, France, Japan, Tahiti, Jamaica, Ireland and many other countries.
In addition, Wood exhibited his works in New York City at the National Academy of Design and in commercial art galleries. He was also an active member of the American Watercolor Society and served as their vice-president. On the West Coast, he exhibited regularly with the California Water Color Society, West Coast Watercolor Society, and in galleries. He presented over eighty one-man shows since 1950.