Avril, inspired by beauty in nature, sits down with the Cayman Islands Journal.
A summer sky, a heavenly breeze kissin’ the trees.
That’s Frank Sinatra’s Moonlight Serenade.
You’d almost think he was inspired by Avril Ward.
The fine art painter and sculptor, looking out the window of her studio, taking in the sweeping landscape and ocean view from her home in Bodden Town, says most recently she has been painting the summer skies “and the awesome cumulous clouds.”
Capturing the Island’s hues initially called for big changes.
“I actually learned to change my palette when I moved here,” says Ward, a native of Scotland who grew up in South Africa and has lived in Cayman for 10 years. “The colours in South Africa are more earthy and you see reds and orange at sunset, not pink.”
Regardless of the colours, Ward has always been inspired by the beauty in nature, “but not the most common thing; more subtle nuances.”
And she has been all over the artistic map: sculpting, painting, graphic design, murals, fabric design, magazine illustration.
In 1999 she turned solely to fine art and now says she is “sort of between sculpting and painting.” Her studio is full of both and as she speaks, four new pieces are being cast to her specifications in Thailand in preparation for their debut for the charity Moving Art. The charity, formed with Renate Seffer and Sue Howe several years ago, benefits local non-profits through the sale of art and donates 50 per cent of proceeds to a local charity (last year it was Meals on Wheels).
When Ward is painting she says she generally works on a series of 10-20 pieces in one style or theme.
“Then I get bored and move on. I might do something completely different, in another medium.”
“In that way, I’m a gallery’s worst nightmare because they never know what I’m bringing in.
“Having said that, if I look at a retrospective of my work, I do see the same themes prevailing.”
In the past year, she has slowed down, partially attributed to the distractions of life and preparations for her son heading off to university in the UK last month.
“I’m hoping once he’s settled I’ll find a whole new zest and enthusiasm,” says Ward, whose home is filled with her creations, including a custom-designed cement floor and counter, numerous paintings of hers and other artists, as well as pieces she has picked up during her travels.
“I used to stress out about it when I wasn’t feeling particularly creative, but it does come in waves. And when I’m productive, I’m very prolific and will spend entire days in the studio.
The creative process
“When you’re not painting,” she adds, “it doesn’t mean you’re not productive…you’re collecting data, you’re marketing and selling. I’ve got some ideas spinning around in my head now…”
Among those ideas, the summer skies. The views incorporate streetlights created with string painting. “I went very realistic and painted in oil. I love the contrast of the realism and then the streetlights thrown in.”
When all is said and done, whether it’s been fabric design (samples of which she still has and they are as perfect as the day they were created), graphic design, tromp l’oeille or fine art, Ward’s accomplishments are many and varied.
“Anything arty I love to do,” she says.
Avril Ward’s work is included in the National Gallery of the Cayman Island’s collection as well as private collections in London, South Africa, Cayman Islands, Germany, Norway,Italy, USA, Australia and New Zealand.