Lyle Ball (1909-1992) was one of the most prolific painters in the history of the visual arts in Nevada. Following his retirement in 1968 as owner of the Ball Sign Company in Reno, Ball pursued a second career painting architectural landmarks throughout northern Nevada. He was often referred to as an "artist-historian."
During the thirty-five years he owned Ball Sign Company, Ball usually laid out the designs for his clients' signs in watercolor, a medium that he would explore more freely in his retirement years.
Ball was highly visible in Reno's arts community and beyond. He was a founding member of the Artists Co-operative of Reno and an active participant in the activities of the Nevada Art Gallery, Nevada Artists Association, and Latimer Club. He qualified for membership in the Society of Western Artists in 1970 and henceforth proudly placed the initials S.W.A. after his signature.
Ball was a largely self-taught artist, although he acknowledged the influence of Richard Yip (1918-1981), Craig Sheppard (1913-1978), and Hans Meyer-Kassel (1872-1952). He offered adult classes in watercolor from time to time and honored special requests to give demonstrations to children in the public schools.
Ball's paintings are relatively easy to identify; many were studies of buildings such as governmental edifices, private residences, ranch houses, and even water towers. When the whole of Ball's work is examined, it is apparent his favorite structure was an aging barn, as it was for many art collectors in the Reno area. The artist seemed to delight in accentuating sweeping roof lines and dramatic cloud formations.
In a 1984 interview for Velda Morby's "Art in the Silver Circle" column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Ball said, "I guess my first barn was the Matley barn, originally a sawmill which turned out so much of Reno's lumber. The barn is long gone—removed so the land could be taken by Reno's airport." During another interview, the artist said that he had created nearly 4,000 works of art during his lifetime and suggested that his prodigious output could be attributed, in part, to his habit of arising virtually every morning at five thirty to paint.