Based in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Heather Ward is a talented wildlife artist, with a goal to portray all animals as worthy of our curiosity and respect. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in math and physics, she accepted a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but after a few years she elected to pursue her childhood passion for drawing animals. Working first in pencil, the self-taught artist delved into books on drawing and soon progressed to charcoal, exploring its qualities of darkness and softness. In 2014 Heather discovered scratchboard, a medium in which lines are scratched through a black surface to reveal the layer of bright white clay beneath which makes her realistic images seem vibrantly alive.
She has spent a lot of time drawing portrait-style boards of animals, not only majestic tigers, elephants and eagles, but also lesser-known and under-appreciated animals such as Tasmanian devils, ermines, and vultures. Ward also takes commissions for pet portraits. In addition to helping local wildlife hospitals and international wildlife conservation efforts, she is starting to create art that creates awareness of poaching, global climate change, and other human-related causes of species extinction. Recently, she has been expanding into more scenic or unique compositions.
The high-contrast nature of scratchboard seems to bring drawings to life, and animals in particular are well-suited to scratchboard because of the techniques used to remove the black ink from the white clay-coated board. Heather Ward is a signature member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists and a protégé of Media Partner, Southwest Art.
Ward’s scratchboard “All About Attitude”, featuring a green iguana, was chosen as the design image for the 35th Anniversary La Quinta Arts Festival commemorative men’s t-shirt. The artist depicts the reptile with an unruffled expression, showing off its distinguished features: a row of spines along his back, a set of large scales on each side of the head, a fold of skin under its chin called a dewlap, and a long ringed tail. The cool composure of the animal sparks interest and admiration for the scaly creature.
Visit Heather Ward in Booth #126 at La Quinta Arts Festival and get up close to see the detailed depth and textures of her drawings.