Artist Portfolio Magazine’s 20 Art Competition
I began my artistic career doing pen and ink renderings of historical architecture. I began painting in 1980, first in gouache, then in acrylics. Artists whose work I admire and draw inspiration from include Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, Richard Estes and Vermeer. I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.
Nearly all my paintings are based on photographs I have taken, primarily of Southern California scenes, over the years. Though it was never my intention to depict nostalgic scenes, many of the images I have painted have disappeared or been radically altered in the ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. Thus nostalgia is thrust upon the works. But what I am really after is bearing witness, and making people stop what they’re doing and pay attention, to something they may have never seen before, but that makes them feel “I know this.”
Phyllis Lutjeans, Museum Educator and former curator, has said of my work: “Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” Or as a young girl viewing my work at the Laguna Festival of Arts remarked, “You make the ordinary look beautiful.”
As a painter, I am self-taught.