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Ward, Edward Norton INTERVIEW

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Mary S Taylor

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 28018
Location: Fresno, CA

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 3:24 am    Post subject: Ward, Edward Norton INTERVIEW Reply with quote

Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA May 7, 1995 Alta Vista p4
Edward Norton Ward: First Impressions
By Lisa Crawford Watson
At first glance, Edward Norton Ward might seem like an urban cowboy, by the mother of pearl snaps sprucing up his western shirt and the turquoise bolo tie at his throat. Or the trail songs whining in the background as he spins another tale of the rodeo that nearly got the best of him. Look again. At the watercolors and oils that line the walls, the neat little splotches of paint lined up on his palette and Point Lobos emerging on the canvas in front of him. “There’s a lovely late morning light on the Point,” he says. “Can you see it?” Ward is so much more than meets the eye. He says he spent 30 years as a computer software specialist for Aerospace and the naval Postgraduate School; made atom bombs in the desert during the Korean war; got a degree in mathematics at UCLA, but could barely make Cs in art. Can’t see it. But we can see the light, particularly when he talks about painting nature. “Getting your feet on the ground, tramping through the weeds and over rocks, you begin to get the feel of the painting location and mentally start to explore its possibilities,” he says. “By a simple change in your habits of observation, you will stop seeing trees, boats, flowers, or things and you will begin seeing interesting combinations of colors, values and shapes. You will begin to see as an artist.” “First impressions” is the name of his popular book and the focus of his signature style of painting. “I became aware of the need for this book while teaching a workshop,” he says. “A student standing in Sutter Creek within view of half a dozen good painting subjects, complained that she couldn’t find anything to paint. In pointing out ideas, I realized that she didn’t understand how to see.” Ward didn’t’ always view the world this way, himself. The Korean War began the year he married his high school sweetheart, Johanna – also an artist, in fashion and floral design. “Johanna’s work inspired me,” Ward says, “but the Air Force had a special spot in their hearts for math majors and sent me to Albuquerque to work on atom bombs.” While stationed in New Mexico, he was indelibly impressed by the rich surface quality, subject matter and brilliant colors he saw in the paintings of the Taos School. Upon his return home to Los Angeles, he began collecting art books and surrounding himself with established artists. “I studied their paintings,” he says, “wishing I could see how to do it,” So he tried watercolor as a way of finding, exploring and getting his thoughts down on paper. Working quickly, spontaneously, without concern for quality, he took down his impressions, encouraged by the fluidity and forgiveness of the watercolor medium. “I think it’s more important to get the subject on paper for later use as an idea for larger watercolors and oils,” he says. “To this end, my technique is the natural result of a need to quickly complete a sketch in changing light and weather.” “You might say I work on the edge of disaster.” He smiles. “It’s all about practice and discovery. Eventually, something happens, then you try to discover what it was.” Ward moved his family to Pacific Grove in 1959 and went to work for the Naval Postgraduate School as a computer specialist, a career which enabled him to raise two daughters – and have a picturesque setting for his painting. He would successfully pursue both careers for the next 30 years. In 1965, the Carmel Art Association hosted Ward’s first solo exhibit, the first of many more shows throughout the western region whose scenery has inspired his landscapes; the Sierra Nevada, the harbors and marine life of the Pacific Coast, and the southwest splendor of Arizona and New Mexico. In 1985, Ward began teaching seminars as a way to share his vision and to “help me pull my thoughts together from the past year’s experiences; to see where I’ve been, what I’ve learned.” In 1990, “First Impression” was published, coincidentally the same year he “changed focus” and began to paint full-time. “I guess computers are my hobby, now,” he says. Like painting, most of Ward’s other hobbies take him back to the great outdoors. His book is full of anecdotes from a horseback ride in Montana, a fishing trip in Albion, a golf game in Carmel, all witnessed and recorded through the artist’s eye. “Recently, during a round of golf, I noticed the pink glow on the horizon toward Santa Cruz as the sun was getting low,” he says. “I thought, ‘Now, how can I tell a person that this really is the afternoon light?’ The cadmium yellow was so apparent against the pink, I had to go out and see what the color spectrum really was.” Two years ago, Ward and Johanna traveled to her native Holland, where he painted the windmills and tulip fields in a profusion of color. “Color is conflict,” he says. “It’s what makes the painting exciting, gives it liveliness.” For Ward, beauty lies in observation, “in becoming aware of what you are seeing. Maybe it is a nice color,” he says. “Never mind what it represents; the subject could be a rusty reddish garbage can, some yellow weeds, a bed of tulips, or a sunlit stream. Just note that it is a nice color.” Ward likens painting to his golf swing. “If you think about it, you’ll mess up. Painting is not an intellectual process,” he says. “Painting is not an intellectual process,” he says. “Paintings evolve. I paint one and think, ‘If I had this to paint over again, what would I do?’ Sometimes it just needs touches, other times, I need to try again. And when I can’t see how to do it,’ Johanna says, ‘You wrote the book why don’t you go look it up?” Edward Norton War’s current work can be seen at The Collector’s Gallery in Carmel and at the Carmel Art Association, where he has just accepted his third term as president.
Copyright (c) 2008 The Monterey County Herald
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