Brian Ballard was born in Belfast in 1942 and was educated at the College of Art, Belfast and then at the College of Art in Liverpool. He now lives in Belfast but spends a lot of his time on the island of Innisfree off Donegal. Ballard was particularly attracted to the ordinary things and would often paint them several times with different lighting or perhaps a different viewpoint. He constantly altered his approach.
Ballard's approach to landscapes was mainly 'en plain air' – painted in front of the subject. He spent a lot of time painting the landscapes of the coast off Donegal and Kerry. Brian focuses on the balance of colours ensuring that what he choses complement the subject. He uses bold and hard strokes to ensure the subject has order as well as depth in the painting. Painters such as Bonnard, Matisse and Picasso also used this technique. Ballard's paintings of nudes and still lives are characterised by a persistent concern with colour and light. His compositional strategies have been compared to those of Giorgio Morandi in their consideration of filtered light, while his loose, vibrant treatment of colour has an immediacy of expression.
In 2014 the Strule Arts Centre held a major retrospective of Ballards work spanning his lenghty career. One of Northern Irelands most highly-respected artists, Ballard is distinguishable by his fascination with the familiar creating intriguing narratives through a more fervent focus on chiaroscuro and liminal space.