Artist Q&A: Benjamin Ward

Tell us about your background as an artist.

My grandfather was a painter, illustrator, and professor. I grew up sitting on his lap watching him draw. It fascinated me. I had an amazing (and patient, ha) art teacher in high school that nurtured my abilities and helped me create a portfolio that was awarded several scholarships to major art schools. My parents were very supportive of me attending art school. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and majored in Illustration. While there I realized how much I enjoyed helping others and by the time I was a senior I had developed a specific passion for drawing and teaching. I received my MFA in Painting from SCAD in 2008 and starting teaching full time the same year.

“Caitlin”  Benjamin Ward

Describe your artwork.

I create drawings and paintings and work mostly from direct observation.

“Katherine – Limited”  Benjamin Ward

Tell us about your creative process and the materials that you use.

When working from the model and setting the pose I look for something that has strong chiaroscuro and contrapposto. The energy of the gesture during the beginning stages of the drawing is vital. Most of my drawings are completed within 3 hours. I enjoy working within single sessions and rarely work more than a day on a drawing. The drawings need to have vitality and be succinct. I often leave areas undeveloped if it suits the design.

For materials I use a range of media but mainly stick to a limited palette of PanPastel and pastel/charcoal pencils. I work on a middle valued earth tone paper. It becomes a very important value and hue during the drawing.

When did you first begin using PanPastel Colors?

I was first introduced to PanPastel through a fellow professor who had seen David Kassan’s drawings. That was around 6 years ago. David Kassan came to visit SCAD a couple of years ago and it was great to watch him work live and to draw with him. He is a great inspiration and friend.

How do you use PanPastel colors in your work – what is your technique/process for using them?

I use them at the beginning of my process. My hue of choice is Raw Umber Shade (780.3). It creates a beautiful transparent under painting that acts as a wonderful poster value. It is also a vital value and temperature bridge between the half tones/shadows and warms/cools. I use the No. 4 Point Sofft Knife with Cover because I can paint “en masse” or use the point like a pencil to create contours. The palette sponges also become great blenders and unifiers of texture when used without any pigment.

“Erin – Block-in”    Benjamin Ward

Are you doing things creatively with PanPastel that you were not doing before?

PanPastel has allowed me to bridge the world of painting and drawing. There are moments in my work when I am a painter and moments when I am a draftsman. The drawings created have passages unique to painting, but textures, contours, and sheen that one associates with a drawing.

“Adriana – Back” Benjamin Ward

What surface(s) do you normally use with PanPastel?

I generally work on Canson Mi-Teintes paper. I actually use the back, smooth side of the paper because the surface and texture are more agreeable to PanPastel.

What do you see as the main benefits of using PanPastel in your work?

The fluidity and forgiveness creates immediate confidence when executing marks. The Sofft Tools help the artist to create sfumato. The paint like application expands one’s concept of drawing!

Do you have any tips/techniques to share with other artists who are using PanPastel?

I always encourage my students to embrace its flexibility. Be bold and confident with your marks and passages. It can be applied “en masse” or linearly. The Sofft Tools make great blenders. Erasers make great drawing tools and PanPastel is very erasable yet stable.

Who / what are your creative inspirations?

Contemporary artists Nicolas Uribe, Sean Cheetham, David Kassan, Jeremy Lipking, Kara Walker, Ruprech Von Kaufmann. Classic painters and illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Howard Pyle, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Frederic Remington. I am also inspired by many of my peers at SCAD. Jeff Markowsky, Jason Zimmer, John Rise, Will Penny, Elizabeth Winnel, Michael Porten, Britt Spencer, Patrick McKinnon, and many others.

“Savannah – limited”  Benjamin Ward

What excites you most about your life as an artist?

Pursuing my passion each day while working with others to help them improve in their skills and confidence as visual communicators!

What’s the most valuable lesson you have learnt on your journey as an artist?

So far, I have learned that one’s ability to actively see (observe, analyze, and then synthesize) is as important as dexterity and confidence when drawing from observation.

“Matt – Block-in”  Benjamin Ward

What are your artistic (and other) goals for the future?

I am looking into pursuing more workshops and demonstrations. I love to share what I do with others!

When you are not working on your artwork, what other interests do you have?

I have a 5-month-old son who keeps me very busy! I am also a full time professor at SCAD


Benjamin Ward

Ben Ward graduated from Bob Jones High School in Madison Alabama in 2001.  He received a Bachelors of Arts in Illustration in 2005 and a Masters of Arts in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008. He has exhibited in New York City, Serbia and Montenegro, Atlanta, Savannah, and Miami. He has taught in the Foundations and Painting departments at the Savannah College of Art and Design as a full time Professor since 2008.

Follow Benjamin:
Instagram @draw.neb
facebook.com/drawneb

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