In this, the third in a six-part series on artists, we visit the art studio of Avril Ward.
On a perfect day it would begin with prayer and meditation for up to an hour. This helps to center me and get me in the right frame of mind. I need to take this time otherwise my day goes downhill rapidly and I just end up frazzled. Some days, however, when I’m right in the middle of a project, I just cannot wait to begin painting or sculpting and I dive right in, still pretty much in my pajamas and face unwashed.
How do you organize your studio?
I am not usually very organized at all. The best way to describe it would be organized chaos. But I know where everything is, which is important. I have a space for everything but it all only really gets put away and tidied up when I am about to start a new work. Generally I have split my studio, which is a bright and airy room attached to my home, into two spaces: one for painting and one for sculpting.
This is not always how things work out though and I am a very messy worker, spontaneously opening new paints and brushes in the frenzy of creativity. Once I’ve finished for the day, usually exhausted, I tend to just leave everything as is and I will come back the next morning to paintbrushes that have hardened with paint, lids off paint pots and general mess.
How do you approach a new piece of work?
I have to see in my mind’s eye the finished piece of work, whether it’s a painting or a sculpture, though perhaps paintings more so as sculptures tend just to flow from a basic emotion or feeling. I always say that the execution of a piece of work is really the final stage, as by this time all the mental work is completed.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
From all over. There isn’t one particular thing that inspires me. It could be completely sublime, a deep-rooted feeling within, a sound, or something I’ve seen consciously or sub-consciously. For my sculptures I am inspired by matters of the heart and spirituality whereas my paintings are generally visually pleasing in color and subject content. Of course I cannot help but be influenced by my environmental palette and in particular I love to paint with blues, greens, purples and acid colors. I’m not generally so fond of yellows, reds and browns.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a couple of new pieces. A recently completed painting “Raindrops” is a mixed media piece that mixes acrylics with collage and resin. The collage medium with which I have recently been working involves using magazine paper torn up and applied in areas of the painting to bring texture through color and pattern. This is an extension of my love of mosaic tiles.
I’m also working on a commissioned piece which is a series that I began years ago called “Exception to the Rule.” It is acrylic with metal leaf. I have painted the background first and now I’m building up the images using pastel before painting with acrylic.
My sculpture that is currently in progress is called “Walking on Water” and features my trademark figurines with long slim limbs. I make my sculptures out of paper clay then I fire them and color them before I send them off to my foundry to have made into bronze casts. Each sculpture is part of a limited 25 edition set. This particular piece is about overcoming challenges and believing in the impossible.
I’m also working on a really fun project, creating three dimensional high relief ceramics made from paper clay and hand colored. The theme is based upon a chess set and I have caricatured each character. For example, the king is looking bored (because he doesn’t see much action), while the pawn is tired from being pushed around and all the hard work. The bishop is looking out of the corner of his eyes watching all the moves suspiciously.
How long do you spend on your artwork?
I read a quote the other day that I thought summed up my feelings quite aptly: Artists are not paid for their labor; but for their vision. I think this is quite true as I may spend days, weeks or months conceptualizing a piece of work that may only take a day to execute. As an artist, I never stop working, scribbling down notes, drawing on my surroundings for inspiration, thinking up ideas. There is so much inspiration but so little time! However, I also find that if I ponder too long over an idea I may miss the urge to create altogether. I have to create while I’m still passionate and excited about the idea.
Where do you see your artwork progressing?
I’m actually very content with where I am right now and feel very blessed and happy that my work has been so well received. I would of course like more international representation, however, because I find the more I sell and the more people enjoy my work, the more inspired and productive I become. If I have nowhere to exhibit I stagnate somewhat.
I am looking forward to completing the three dimensional ceramics in the hope of showing them next year and I’m also participating in The Ritz-Carlton’s “Essence of Cayman,” an exhibition which will give me the chance to showcase four new paintings, plus my sculptures as always.
How do you close down your day?
If I’ve had a really good day painting I will work until my back and neck aches and I realize I am hungry as I haven’t eaten or drunk much all day. On these days (my favorite days) I will walk the dogs on the beach in the evening and then flop into the pool and into bed. But about 40 percent of my days are also spent doing administrative work, such as marketing, accounts, negotiating with clients and getting ready for exhibitions, as art is my business and I need to run it as such. But I always make time to take the dogs for a walk at the end of the day. It’s a great way to unwind.