An artist's life amid the trees in Colleyville
Ann Hardy strides across her green and shaded lawn to a birdhouse mounted on a tree trunk.
She partially pulls out a nest, empty except for one tiny, blue egg.
"Yes, they're gone. I knew they wouldn't be there much longer."
The Colleyville artist knows her birds. And her gardens, and even the fish that swim in the long pond that runs along her property. A fishing rod and net stand propped near the door, should she get the urge to wet a line.
Hardy's work in oils is well known around North Texas. She exhibits at Morgan Dane Gallery in Grapevine, as well as galleries in Dallas, Fort Worth, Mississippi and Chicago.
She describes her work, largely still life, figurative and landscapes, as "abstract realism."
Hardy frankly says her first go at painting was about making money. She lived in Hurst at the time, and had no background in art. Once she gave it a try, Hardy discovered she loved it — and that she was fast and prolific.
"I went to all the festivals, all the starving artist shows," she said.
By 1973, she had made money enough to buy acreage in Colleyville and a small barn where she raised Arabian horses. She and her husband had three children. She stopped painting, got more involved in civic affairs in Colleyville, became president of the chamber of commerce.
By the time the marriage ended in divorce in 1990, Hardy had gotten a real estate broker's license and made a career.
She sold some of the Colleyville land, held on to 1.76 acres to build a home of her own and decided she would paint for a living.
Knowing the livelihood would be an uncertain one, Hardy designed the house with a small attached apartment, figuring she would live there and lease out the main house if it came to that.
Her striking plans for the home included a four-sided fireplace that rises to the ceiling in an open space that holds her kitchen, living room and dining room all at once. A long bank of windows faces out onto the pond and the yard, shaded by the many trees she kept intact during construction.
One big, old oak twists up through the porch of the back yard tree house she uses as her studio.
She never had to move into the apartment. Both talent and speed helped her stay afloat.
Hardy says that at one point she was painting 20 pieces a week.
She kept her broker's license for a couple of years, just in case.
"I let the license die in '96," she said.
She exhibits regularly now, along with her many other pursuits.