Art Collecting

Wonders of watercolor painting never end for Gallery 14 stalwart – 32963 Features, Arts | Pro Club Bd

Although many artists dream of a career in art from day one, the majority find that they have to put their talents aside for a while to find other ways of earning a living. Mary Ann Hall is one of those people.

Although the arts weren’t part of everyday family life, Hall recalls sitting on the back porch of her parents’ house as a 10-year-old, drawing from a kit her mother bought for her.

“I’ve never known artists; I had never been exposed to the art world. Growing up in an industrial city, the arts weren’t available,” she explains.

When Hall began taking watercolor classes in high school, she was in a class of 18-year-olds who had already been taught mechanical drawing, which was unavailable in their previous schools.

“Mechanical drawing was for boys. Girls should take home [economics]. I was behind the curve there. So I started taking lots of watercolor lessons to try and catch up, because that was the interior design medium and that’s what I wanted to do,” says Hall.

“I got a scholarship to college, but my dad wouldn’t fill out the paperwork because he believed girls will get married, so why…”

Luckily, Hall was able to persuade him to let her attend a two-year college, and she went on from there. Since her father wanted her to study computer science to make a living from it, she got a degree in computer science.

“My dad had four daughters and I think he wanted to make sure they didn’t come back I guess. My education was a long, long struggle.”

Hall went through school, earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in business, do so gladly.

“You have to really want it to go that way,” says Hall.

After a divorce, Hall again delayed her artistic work in order to earn a reliable, steady income to support herself and her daughter. She became an associate professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan and did not paint for 25 years.

“I told my kids to figure out what they want before they get married and have kids,” she says.

Remarried, Hall and her husband were offered buyouts, which they both accepted, and retired early. Being both pilots, they met Vero Beach while building a high performance aircraft at Velocity in Sebastian.

“Raytheon Missile Corporation bought one of our planes to test on radar,” she says.

They finally moved here in 2004, which finally allowed her to do what she loved – painting. After meeting other Vero artists, she was asked to become one of the founding members of Gallery 14, now in its 14th year. Of the original eight, five are left and three new ones have been added. The co-owners think eight is a good working number.

“I jumped at it,” says Hall, who brought a solid gift to the table with her business background. “I didn’t realize at the time what an opportunity they were offering me. It’s such a wonderful, welcoming group here.”

Now, Hall says, painting has become all-encompassing in a good way.

“I can tell you what happens when I don’t paint. I actually feel like I’m bubbling inside; it is a release. I see a lot of things and people give me suggestions on what to paint. ideas are over. I’m active and I see things and I have lots and lots of ideas. Sometimes I actually make lists.”

With art exhibitions in Stuart, Brevard and Fort Pierce, Hall is constantly expanding her footprint to sell her work.

Organizers of the Brevard Aquarium Art Walk, to promote an aquarium they hope to build in Upper Canaveral, selected three of Hall’s paintings to be placed in public buildings in that county.

“I was with some heavyweights up there, so I was pretty lucky,” Hall recalls.

In 2011 she had the great honor of being selected as the Easter Seal Stamp Artist. Competition is fierce with all 50 states participating. Barbara Landry, another Gallery 14 co-owner, was a two-time winner.

“It’s very rare to have two winners in the same gallery,” Hall says, explaining that thousands of entries are judged in Chicago, at the Easter Seals’ headquarters.

“I mainly work in watercolor, which I love. That’s my favorite; the transparency, the fluidity of it. It can just sparkle.”

Over the past two years, Hall has begun adding a lot of texture to her work.

“I started with a piece of watercolor paper, then went into the background and added pieces of gauze,” explains Hall.

After laying the paper for a while until she decided what to do with it, she finally decided that a bird with a moon and a reflection would work, so she drew that.

Another break with tradition is painting watercolors on rice paper. Hall describes it as a tie-dye process where you start with lighter colors and apply wax to save it. The next layer has a different value and more wax. Four to seven layers of wax ensure darkness again and again.

“Then you take the wax paper and crumple it up to make any cracks in the wax and then add more watercolor. Then you iron everything on to see what comes out. You can’t control that 100 percent,” she admits.

“Sunny Days” is a good example of this technique. Moonlight Serenade is more traditional, using watercolor paper to preserve texture.

“I’m doing more and more contemporary paintings,” says Hall. Although the paintings are rather simple in subject matter, she finds that the technique makes them unique.

Hall says she is very happy with her new contemporary work, although she continues to paint traditionally.

“Since I’ve been here I can see my stylistic evolution; I know how the tools, how the paint, how everything works.

“I learned and now I can explore. I’ll always be learning, but I’m more comfortable [trying new things]’ says Hall.

Her curious and adventurous nature drives her to constantly try something new, such as using bright, bold colors.

“It’s an amazing world. I always look and see; ideas are all over. My paintings are full of pure color and show the wonders of nature. I prefer delicate watercolors for flowers, acrylics for abstracts, and pastels for landscapes,” says Hall, who believes paintings should evoke emotion in the viewer.

photos provided

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