HARWICH — Ann Hart's interest in the arts started at a very early age, having grown up in a creative family. She said her mother was an “artsy-craftsy person” who did a lot of work with furniture and antiques, and she took notice.
Observation paid off for Hart, an East Harwich resident, whose work will be on display in February at the Signature Member Show of The New England Watercolor Society on Newbury Street in Boston. This is not her first display of work in the annual event; last year, she won the H. K. Holbein Award at the show.
“There is wonderful vibrancy in this painting. The artist handles strong color beautifully,” judge and watercolor painter Cindy Baron said of Hart’s award-winning painting last year.
Hart grew up in Pennsylvania and discovered Cape Cod one summer during her college years. She knew this was a place where she could pursue her artistic cravings. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in early education in 1976, but her creative calling drew her back to Cape Cod.
“In 1975 I was designing menus, placemats and softball team T-shirts at the (Chatham) Squire and coming in early to work so I could do a colored chalk drawing on the specials board,” Hart said of that summer on the Cape. “And now, all these years later, my work is at Gallery Antonia, still on Main Street in Chatham.
“In the course of all those years, I have had a lucky artistic life, spending time as a potter, photographer, graphic designer, quilter, innkeeper and always, as a painter.”
All those creative juices have filled more than one water glass.
“I don’t do anything else. I’m not an oil painter, I’m strictly hooked on watercolor,” Hart said. “I gather my inspiration in the field, making observations, taking photographs. I am drawn to imagery that combines fluidity with intricate detail and has strong contrasts of color and light.
“The transparent approach to watercolor requires planning and this is part of the process I embrace. Each piece is a problem to solve—the technical and interpretive decisions that I make work in tandem. A truly good painting both surprises me and is exactly what I had in mind at the outset. So a ‘better good painting’ is always waiting on the next blank sheet of beautiful paper.”
Hart enjoys sharing her talent as a faculty member at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham, where she conducts two-day workshops in watercolors. She is a Master Arts member of the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable and is represented by Gallery Antonia in Chatham.
Over the past couple of years, as well as winning the Holbein Award at the Signature show, she has been awarded Best in Show at the Color My World Juried Exhibit at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and first place watercolor at the All Cape Juried Exhibit at the Creative Arts Center in 2018 and 2019. She also participates in international juried exhibits at the Louisiana Watercolor Society and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society.
This will be Hart’s fourth showing at The New England Watercolor Society’s Signature Member Show. The society does two shows a year, a juried show and a signature show. Participation in the signature show requires acceptance into four juried shows, one a national open, over a decade. This year’s exhibition judge will be Stephen Quiller, and award-winning member of the American Watercolor Society.
There are 89 artists in the signature show that begins on Feb. 4 at the Guild of Boston Artists on Newbury Street and runs through March 1. Each artist provides one painting. Hart has chosen “Against the Green,” a scene of a red brick building in New York City in early morning surrounded by vegetation and viewed from across an intersection with a traffic light and pedestrians.
“It’s a composite, my favorite kind of image with made up elements (the interiors), imported bits (the biker, the watertower), and exaggeration of what I was most taken by (the brick building),” she said.
So why not a Cape setting?
“Not that the Cape isn’t great for subject matter, but it’s always great to find other unique vantage points,” Hart explained. “I try to make paintings different, try to find my own voice. There is not much I can do to another ocean wave.”
Hart paints from photographs in a studio she has set up in her home. She talks of craning her neck to come home with the subject matter she is seeking in the photograph. In her studio there is a quote on the wall that shapes her work ethic: “Quiet is the thinktank of the soul.” That quiet explodes into the brilliance of her creative endeavors.
New England Watercolor Society Signature Member Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St., Boston, Feb. 4 to March 1, 2020. The gallery will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays noon to 4 p.m.. Reception and awards will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, from 2to 4 p.m. There are several painting demonstrations and gallery talks scheduled. Additional information is available at www.newenglandwatercolorsociety.org.