Ann Watcher credits growing up in a small southern town as the primary influence on her subject matter. During her childhood, she was fascinated by abandoned buildings and the sense of isolation, nostalgia and the personal connection she felt when she discovered places time seemed to have forgotten. Farmhouses, barns, stables and other old structures are prominent elements featured in her landscape works.
Watcher’s attraction to "age of place" makes Tuscany, with its rich history, a natural destination for exploration on canvas. The artist points out the similarities between the Carolinas and the Tuscan region, both of which share strong agrarian roots. Instinctively drawn to the beautiful, lush foliage of olive trees, the artist observes the historical significance of these trees, which have provided the world with olive oil, a valuable resource, for thousands of years. Watcher explains, “I love painting something that has provided civilization with something so essential and timeless.”
I enjoy creating imagery rooting me in the past, no matter where I am. However, I paint in a modern way, always seeking to give my art a different interpretation; I approach my subject matter in search of unusual angles and light as well as other details the average passerby could easily overlook.
Ann points to master painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard as sources of inspiration for her artistic style, also acknowledging Mary Cassatt and the influence Cassatt’s body of work has had on Ann’s personal approach to her portraits of children.
Her creative process is fluid; as the artist explains, “I rarely know what each of my paintings will look like until I have completed each individual work.” This organic approach to the canvas allows Watcher to simultaneously appreciate the inherit qualities of her chosen media while remaining free to adapt her technique in order to truly capture her subject matter without being hindered by any preconceived conceptions.
Working primarily in oils, Ann prepares the canvas by painting a scrub-in layer initially, then adding in layers to build up the final image. To complete her paintings, she uses thin layers of glaze or, if a more textured surface is desired, Watcher applies cold wax, a medium that can literally be scraped into, giving Ann the ability to further build up the layers that make up her artworks.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting, Ann Watcher continued her formal studies at the prestigious New York Studio School. Watcher then earned an internship at the renowned Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Returning to her native South, Watcher now lives and has a studio in Matthews, North Carolina. Ann is constantly traveling across the Carolinas, often painting en plein air. She continues to grow as an artist, continuing her studies with Andy Braitman and participating in workshops with fellow artists: Miriam Durkin and Mary Erickson.
I seek to have the more neutral parts of the canvas work as a support against the more vivid hues. I do not believe in using only vibrant colors, because doing so is comparable to playing every instrument in an orchestra all at once. I very much want to paint pictures of the South that evoke feelings of appreciation in the observer for the poetry found in the landscape of barns and farmhouses where people once lived their lives, just as we are now doing, that are now standing alone and forgotten or destroyed and replaced by shopping malls.