Ann Hart is the quintessential self-taught artist. After a creative childhood, she was diverted from art, then returned in unexpected style. While waitressing one summer as a college student at The Squire in Chatham, she drew chalkboard menus and designed t-shirts during slow times. Today, 37 years later, Hart is a little awed that she is back on Main Street in Chatham, this time in Gallery Antonia, where her dynamic watercolors hang.
The contrasts in Hart’s life are mirrored in her art. “When I choose a subject, I’m looking for that brilliant contrast that allows me to use my paper in a dramatic way,” Hart says. She creates her effects through “negative painting”—using the paper as another palette of colors and saving white space as she works.
There is no going back in this method. In All My Marbles, a small, lovely piece that rings with color, shape, and depth, Hart thought she might have met her Waterloo. “It was such a challenge to create all that depth and brilliant color, and saving all those whites,” she says. “It was kind of a terror, but so much fun to do.”
She admits that her fellow artists think she’s a little far-gone. “You have to be a bit of a detail freak,” she admits.
Pocket Patio is a different angle on Provincetown, but purely stamped with the spirit of the Outer Cape: the brilliance of coleus and vines catching the light; the texture of the stone; the complementary shades of aqua, burnt orange, and violet. “I think of them as just singing against each other,” Hart says. Another charming Cape Cod scene, Ryder’s Cove, with dinghies lazily tethered on a marshy patch of sand at low tide, brought her an invitation to exhibit in a national show of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America.
Hart also does more structural pieces, mostly in another setting she loves: New York City. Signs of the Times is a vignette of a street scene with contrasting colors and eras. Amid contemporary signs and a faded brick building is an everyday traffic light, Hart’s favorite part. “It’s so artist centric,” she says. “I guess all artists are pretty self-involved with their work. We just zero in on something visual that gives us great pleasure.”
Ann Hart’s work may be seen at Gallery Antonia, located at 578 Main Street in Chatham ( galleryantonia.com) and annhartsart.com. The gallery will stage a solo show of her work August 8-September 30. She also exhibits at the Cape Cod Art Association in West Barnstable and the Creative Art Center in Chatham.