Welcome to RussBall.com the site of Artist Russ Ball.

Feel free to browse the paintings, drawings and prints most of which
are for sale unless someone has beat you to it.

Should you wish to contact the artist or purchase a piece, feel free to
contact him at rball@abqjournal.com or rball225@yahoo.com

Who is Russ Ball?
Russ Ball holds a BFA degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. and took graduate courses in painting and printmaking at the University of New Mexico.

After his release from the Army, Russ moved to New Mexico and became enchanted with the landscape. He painted watercolors of the boulders in Tijeras Canyon, just east of Albuquerque, selling in a gallery in Taos, N.M. to pay for University of New Mexico classes.

In 1977 Russ Ball spent three months touring Europe and, while touring
Greece, worked with teachers and students of the Art Academy of Athens.
This European experience affects the lyrical and symbolic qualities of
his artwork to this day.

Known for his exquisite drawings and paintings of birds and
Dalmatians in oil and pastel, he also paints large and surreal acrylic
and oil paintings of harlequins on tightropes and dreamlike
“Horsewomen” riding the range. He likes to think and work in metaphor
and often layers meanings as he layers his paint.

Recently Russ was honored to paint the official poster of the 2006
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. These are considered
collector’s items.The signed artist proof series is available from the
artist through this Web site.

Russ shows at the Weems Galleries in Albuquerque and the Joe Wilcox
Gallery in Sedona Arizona. Russ Ball is well known in Albuquerque for
his illustrations in the Albuquerque Journal.

He is married to artist and art teacher, Nancy Norman. They have two
children, Adam and Amelia. Russ’ oldest daughter, Dusty lives in
Richmond, Virginia and is the mother of granddaughter Amber Victoria.


Russ Ball Interview - 2006 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Poster

We sat down with Russ Ball and conducted the following interview. Our
guess is that as you get to know Russ you will sense the pride and
commitment that he brings to this project. He has created a poster that
gives us a distinctive look for 2006 and one that is sure to be popular
with all of our guests. Please enjoy the following interview:

Q. How long have you lived in Albuquerque?

I moved to Albuquerque, sight unseen, in 1971 after getting out of the
army. The son of a navy submariner, I had grown up on naval bases along the east coast, Virginia, Florida, New England; the west seemed
romantic and different, and in fact, it proved to be wonderfully so.

Q. What are your personal impressions of Balloon Fiesta?

I was at the first Balloon Fiesta at the State Fairgrounds with my
camera as a young man and have been here for every one since. I love
the excitement of the balloons but am not crazy about the traffic so I
tend to enjoy the fiesta from around the edges.

Q. Have you taken a ride in a hot air balloon?

I have photographed the balloons, been on ground crews, have chased
the balloons but have never actually ridden on one.

Q. Do you have a Balloon Fiesta story to share?

One year, when my now fifteen year-old daughter was a baby, I saw on
the news that Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America was riding in the Miss Piggy balloon. As we drove out towards the park, there was Miss Piggy settling down about a quarter mile south of us. I parked the car, and, baby in hand, hiked over to where the balloon had landed. The crewwas busy rolling the thing up. There was Charlie Gibson, the guy I
watched on TV every morning as I was getting ready for work, just
standing there, watching, alone. So I walked up, introduced myself as a
fellow newsman, handed him the baby and took their picture. My little
brush with fame.

Q. What does it mean to be the poster artist for Balloon Fiesta?

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta posters have a long and grand history, all
beautifully painted, and many memorable for their design. To be chosen
as the poster artist is quite an honor and a challenge.

Q. How will you "personalize" the 2006 Balloon Fiesta Poster?

This is a collaborative piece, Debi Kline being the designer of the
“Out of the Blue” campaign. I have taken her wonderful design and have
included a rolling hill landscape across the bottom. The paint surface
is brightened and textured, and the gondola is detailed with a man
feeding birds in it. I also added a bird flying into the picture from
the bottom left which gives a forward plane to the perspective. A
painting takes on new meanings in the painting of it. This one is
painted with glazes, transparent colors over transparent colors so that
the color you appear to be seeing is actually a mixture of warms and
cools through layers. It is hoped that the "artist's hand" will cause
the painting to transcend its literal meaning.

Q. How long have you been painting?

There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t define myself as
an artist. I have been drawing and painting since I was five years old.
I was the school artist in high school, was pretty terrible but didn’t
know it. I loved illustrators like N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle,
illustrators of books like “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped”. In the
eighth grade, to my parent’s dismay, I discovered Mad Magazine and
began my career as a cartoonist. Art school was a big eye opener for
me. I majored in commercial art at a fine art school so I got all of
the drawing, painting and art history as well as layout, design and
typography. This was the time when Abstract Expressionism was in vogue,but Pop Art had just started up. I was surrounded by art and artists, living and breathing art. I thought I was in heaven. Then I got
drafted. When I got out of the Army, the family and I moved to
Albuquerque and I began painting watercolors of the New Mexico
landscape. I returned graduate school at UNM in printmaking, and began painting in egg tempera, an ancient medium used before oil paint was invented. I met my future wife, Nancy, in the UNM lithography shop. She would paint these huge abstract acrylic paintings, covered with
texture, things glued it. Her work was so exciting and made my tight,
carefully rendered efforts seem “anal” as my wife puts it. I became
intrigued with paper, texture, and exciting surfaces; beyond the
subject matter, the paint itself had to be exciting too. All of this is
reflected in any art I do now.

Q. Have you created poster art in the past?

I have been working as an illustrator for the Albuquerque Journal
since 1978. Much of what I do there has become posters for Journal
projects. Some of those have been good enough that I made posters from them to sell at Weems Artfest each year, as well as posters of some of my more “popular” paintings. This, however, is the most prestigious
poster project that I have worked on.

Q. What do you do for fun besides paint?

I love to gallery hop in Santa Fe, look at art, read about art. I love
old movies, and love to read about history.

Q. What else do you do in your spare time?

Spare time for me is like spare change. I don’t have any. My daughter
is in high school and I am her regular chauffeur. When I can get out to
my studio, I love to put on some good music and paint.

Q. What is your favorite piece of your own artwork?

My favorite piece is usually the one I am working on at any given time.
But there is one in particular called “Bad Dog” that is my most almost
sold painting. It is ten years old and I still have it. It is a large
canvas, four foot by six foot, of a man in a phone booth with a yellow
“junk yard dog” tugging at his pant leg. I think of it as a
self-portrait, not that it looks like me, but that the dog represents
all of life’s little irritating things that demand my time and
attention. Being an illustrator I often paint in metaphor. Many
paintings tend to have meanings other than the literal subject.

Q. What makes your work unique?

My work is hard to put into a category. When people ask me what I
paint, I don’t know how to tell them. It is illustrative in that it
tells a story; it is contemporary, in that it is stylized and composed
and painted in a modern way. It uses metaphor and requires thought,
since the real meaning of the art is something other than the literal
subject. And as I mentioned before, paint is textured and splattered
often with paper or flora embedded so that the surface is as
interesting as the subject matter.

Q. What would you consider the "Russ Ball" touch?

I hope that what makes my work interesting is the joy that I feel in
the making of it. There is an element of fun in every thing I do,
regardless of the subject.

Q. What are your tastes in art?

My tastes in art are broad. As a kid I liked the great illustrators,
Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell. In my teens I discovered Picasso and spent a lot of time pouring over his stuff, trying to figure it out. In college I fell in love with Andrew Wyeth and Salvador
Dali. Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Matisse became favorites of mine.
But as an art student, had to ponder the abstract artists. What the
hell was that about? The first time I saw a real Jackson Pollack I sat
in front of it for hours, drifting in an out of the paint splatters.
Franz Kline’s big dynamic splashes of diagonal black against white and
Helen Frankenthaler’s huge splashes of color became my mentors for
color and composition. Incredulous at first, I came to love the
Abstract Expressionists.

Wow! Then came the Pop Artists. These guys could actually draw! I cameto love Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers and Tom Wesselman. I am intrigued by good artists who paint differently from me. How do they do that? I don’t know how to paint an abstract painting; I think of an image, draw it then build an environment for it to live in, but I use a lot of abstract qualities in what I do. I also love well-done
traditional landscape, still life and portraiture as well as cartoons.
John Trever, the political cartoonist at the Journal never ceases to
amaze me. My wife, abstract artist and teacher, Nancy Norman,
continues to be my hardest critic and biggest influence. She taught me
about texture and marks.

© 2006 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Inc.