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Ladue Painter Seeks Solace in Art

Ann Brown is a watercolorist whose works have been exhibited at Saint Louis University’s art museum.

For Ann Brown, art calms the tempest within.

As a career mother and homemaker, the 65-year-old Ladue native has had the luxury of painting without the pressure of selling her works for a living.

But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t sold plenty of paintings. Brown, who was exhibited in the art museum at Saint Louis University last February, has sold paintings to businesses and individual collectors.

A community-conscious individual, Brown has donated pieces to nonprofits. She volunteered for twelve years at an organization called Alive Alternatives, which offers resources for women victimized by domestic abuse.

Brown sees painting as a way to relax and enjoy life.

“I think any time people involve themselves in things that are beautiful, it’s healing if you need healing,” Brown said. “It’s calming if you need calming, and it’s just a gentle part of our lives. It’s sort of Zen.”

Brown takes after Impressionism, favoring soft brush strokes and subjects from nature, but she does so with a semi-abstract touch. The subtlety of the style—employing suggestions of forms rather than clear-cut realism—appeals to her as an artist.

“They have soft edges, not hard-lined edges,” Brown said “It’s not drawn like you’d draw with a pencil or ink.”

Since her husband retired 17 years ago, Brown has spent most of each year in West Palm Beach, FL, returning to Ladue for about five months before migrating south during colder weather.

“Mainly aside from playing golf and spending times with friends, art is what we live for,” Brown said.

Brown was invited to exhibit her works at the SLU Museum of Art by Father Lawrence Biondi. The university president had paid her a personal visit in Florida.

“I had a number of my pieces here, and he asked if I’d like to have a show there,” Brown said. “I had some health issues for awhile, and so they waited, and it turned out to be last February.”

Although the show was more of an exhibit of art for art’s sake than a gallery of works for sale, it piqued the interest of some collectors who later contacted Brown to purchase paintings.

Brown became interested in art as a child. As an adult, she took classes at Fontbonne University, Washington University and Webster University from instructors such as watercolorist and Olivette resident Marian Steen.

The experience of learning in a structured class setting helped her to develop as an artist.

"Sometimes watching how someone handles a particular situation, watching how they move paint around, is helpful," Brown said.

For aspiring artists young and old, there has never been a better time to pick up painting than the present, she added.

"Pick up a pad and piece of paper and a pencil and just start doing something," Brown said. "Take a class. Look through the community colleges and see what’s available. You can find anything online these days."

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