New Brunswick’s Ann Balch has been working as a full-time professional artist since 1996. An elected (signature) member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC) and of the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA), she paints in watercolor and oil.
Her work has won prizes at the national and international level. Many of the awards have been for her strong and emotionally rich paintings of black women, an interest that goes back to her youth. In recent years, she’s also painted many portrait-like images of sheep which have also been recognized. Whether human or animal, her paintings are a celebration of the life within, and without.
In 2021 Off to the Ballet, a delicate portrait of a heavily-fleeced ewe won SCA’s award of merit and prize, and Two of a Kind, two sheep with dreadlocks, was awarded Best in Show at the 2015 SCA Open Juried Exhibition. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association featured a little flock All in their Woollies on its June 2020 issue.
One of her earliest prizes was for a figurative painting, Eye of the Beholder, which hangs in Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada’s Governor-General. It won 2004 Jarvis Award for Excellence in Transparent Watercolour.
In 2017, Jean at Eighty-Five took the CSPWC Sloan Award, and Regret, held in the CSPWC National Diploma Collection, was one of those chosen to represent the evolution of the watercolour medium in Canada. In September 2021, Presence, Ann's painting of an elegant black woman won "Outstanding Watercolor" prize in the BoldBrush Painting Competition.
Ann was one of 23 Canadian artists invited to show her work in Italy at the international show “Fabriano in Acquarello” with 70 countries represented. Her work has been featured in various art magazines published in France and America, and in an instruction book published by International Artist.
Although her obvious love affair with watercolour continues, Ann has rediscovered her love of oils and has included both in recent exhibitions. In 2019, Ann was commissioned to undertake the impressive oil portrait of retiring University of New Brunswick professor Dr. Eddy Campbell.
Her work is held in public and private collections in Canada and the United States, including The Canadiana Fund State Art Collection; the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada; The New Brunswick Art Bank; the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour Diploma Collection; the Atlantic Lottery Corporation; the City of Moncton collection.
What is Transparent Watercolour?
Transparency is the quality of watercolours that allows the passing of light through glazes of paint to reflect off the paper's surface. Transparency as a classification of watercolour indicates no white, bodycolours or gouache (opaques) were used. In a transparent watercolour, the white of the paper is preserved by the artist wherever a white statement is intended in the painting.
What is and Why Use Archival Acrylic Varnish?
Ann has eliminated the need to cover her watercolours with glass by finishing them with an archival acrylic varnish protecting them from UV rays, moisture and dirt. The acrylic archival varnish bonds with the watercolour pigment and paper and the resulting image may be regarded as an acrylic impregnated image. These pieces are referred to as "mixed media", but they retain the visual quality of a watercolour while letting the viewer experience the painting in a more direct, tactile way.