Ann Balch

RESIDENCE: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

BACKGROUND: I received a good foundation in drawing and a general introduction to various media during high school. I?ve only taken one art course during my adult years, while working in the public relations field. Encouraged by a commercial gallery, I decided to paint full time nine years ago.

MEDIUM AND SUBJECTS: I work primarily in transparent watercolor and do mainly figurative work.

INSPIRATION FOR LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY: The tidy, compact and graceful lines of the model, as well as the tension of the negative and positive spaces, were the inspiration.

Long Ago and Far Away (watercolor, 28×20) by Ann Balch was a finalist in the 2004 Art Competition. To view more of her work, visit

CHALLENGE OF THE PAINTING: The crisp shape of the head, neck and hands is so dominant that this image could be pleasing even if it were just a two-dimensional silhouette. However, to make the head appear three-dimensional, I had to deliberately include “color detail” in the darkest areas of the head and neck. This ensured those areas didn?t appear flat and dead. I used a variety of colors to make the darks, mixing them directly on the paper to help retain each hue?s individuality.

FAVORITE PART OF THE PAINTING: It?s the thumbs. The painting would be a little flatter without that bright highlight, which gives the viewer?s eye somewhere lively to settle and rest from the tension created by negative and positive spaces. The long line of the thumb sets up the eye to examine those negative spaces and the lines they make.

HOW HAS YOUR WORK EVOLVED?: I?ve moved from doing relatively quick studies or sketches to examining details, particularly color. I put on more layers of color to get a richer glow. I pay more attention to subtleties like hard and soft edges. Also, I mix more on the paper rather than on the palette. Finally, my ability to differentiate between similar hues has evolved.

Mark Gottsegen is associate professor of art at the University of North Carolina?Greensboro and chair of ASTM International?s subcommittee on artists? materials.

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