Irma Ward

Irma Ward



Describe the time you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? How old were you? Who or what inspired you at the beginning of your art life?  Who or what inspires your art life today?

That would be the first time I held a paint brush and stood at an easel.  I was five years old, in kindergarten.  I was so excited and couldn’t wait to do it again.  I remember that I painted big flowers and made a big mess.  From that point on I wanted to work with anything involving a paint brush.

My father would take me to the art museum and that would feed my inspiration.  I recall a painting by Cezanne that really caught my eye and remember thinking how I wanted to paint like that.  The “how” often interests me more than the subject of a painting.  Learning the process of painting is what made me so passionate about painting.

Today, inspiration comes to me in many ways.  I like to see other artists paintings; abstract artists as well as realistic.  I go to museums and read books on art history.  I take a few workshops every year and work alongside other good artists.  I am constantly looking for a good subjects or scenes, sometimes translating those in to non-objective paintings.

Why do you make art?  What are you trying to communicate with your art?  What element(s) of your inner spirit is reflected in your art?

I have this need to create in one form or another and I like to express my love of color in my work.  When I go too long without doing something artistic, I get a bit anxious. 

Every painting has a different message.  It could be a report on a weather condition, a sentimentality, playfulness, mystery, or a puzzling subject.  My spirit is eclectic, and I don’t settle on one genre.

Is the atmosphere or design layout of your creative space/studio an important element in your creative process—why or why not?  Is there something—a keepsake, an inspirational quotation, a photograph—you keep in your studio for inspiration or motivation?

My studio space is where I spend most of my time when I’m not attending to family matters or painting en plein air (French for “outside”).  It was built to my specifications allowing room for teaching and storing the many materials that accumulate.  I am inspired by my students and by the availability of the tools and supplies that I need for a project.  I collect items that I think will be good teaching tools and still life subjects.  I have a good art reference library and many, many photographs that I frequently refer to for inspiration.

Also, plein air painting is my second studio.  Outside I have no limits.  I can set up anywhere and that allows me to share a moment in my life so that others can see through my eyes, so to speak.

Red Buds

Red Buds

What kind of routines or rituals do you incorporate into your creative time? If you have one element or principle of art you enjoy working with the most, please describe it? 

I grew up under the mantra, “Work before play”, so it is hard for me to go to work in the studio when there are household or administrative chores to be done.  I try to blast through chores so I can head to the studio as soon as possible.  Sometimes I don’t get there until after supper, yet I do get there.

The element I enjoy working with the most is color.  I study all the other elements of art, but color stands out as being the one I want to understand the most.  I even find enjoyment learning about the technical aspects of the paints, which I believe are important to know.

Currently, which creative medium do you work in? What, if any, other creative medium would you love to pursue?

I mostly work with oils and acrylic paints.  I love the feel of oil and the fact that it is a very “forgiving” medium.   For my larger paintings, I use acrylics; mainly because they dry faster and are easier to work with larger brushes.

If I had the space and time, I would like to learn sculpturing and pottery.  I’ve always wanted to work with clay, but time and space are limiting factors.   

What is your most important artist tool?  How does this tool factor into your art making?

Importance varies depending on the project, but overall my brushes rank high. There is not one favorite; I like a variety; although, I do have a few “go to” brushes.  I like the look and feel of brushwork.  I constantly strive to have look-looking work.  Even though there are other tools for spreading paint, brushes are by far my favorite.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I have never lacked motivation that I can remember.  The idea of going to my studio keeps me motivated; sometimes, too much so.  My biggest problem is choosing a subject or composition.  When this occurs, I go through magazines and photos until I find something that sparks my interest.



What one piece of advice would you give to an artist just getting started?

Just one?  May I share a few?

·      It is important to learn the basics (composition, value, color, brushwork, perspective) and to practice, practice, practice.

·      Learn about value (tone – dark to light).  It trumps color, and composition trumps value.

·      Be patient with yourself.  There is much truth in the saying that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  With practice, you can build many Romes.

If you wish, please share with us any other aspect of your art life—professionally and/or personally—that hasn’t been answered in the above questions.

Being an artist is a lonely profession; not in the sense of feeling sorry for oneself, but that you must work alone most of the time.  In that space, it is very zen-like.  You are one with your tools, your painting and you connect with your subject no matter what it is.  Everything else is left outside your head.  It’s a very calming and meditative state. 

For what one thing would you like to be remembered?

I guess it would be for those that know me to remember me for being a patient and giving artist and teacher.  I love helping others learn to paint and I set up my studio with that in mind.  I care about my student-artists and hope they can feel that.  I try to exceed expectations in all that I do.

Describe yourself in one word.

Organized.  At least I like to think I am.  Ha!