Michael Ward


I began my artistic career doing pen and ink renderings of historical architecture. I began painting in 1980, first in gouache, then in acrylics. Artists whose work I admire and draw inspiration from include Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, Richard Estes and Vermeer. I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.

Nearly all my paintings are based on photographs I have taken, primarily of Southern California scenes, over the years. Though it was never my intention to depict nostalgic scenes, many of the images I have painted have disappeared or been radically altered in the ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. Thus nostalgia is thrust upon the works. But what I am really after is bearing witness, and making people stop what they’re doing and pay attention, to something they may have never seen before, but that makes them feel “I know this.” 

Phyllis Lutjeans, Museum Educator and former curator, has said of my work: “Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.”

As a painter, I am self-taught. In my day job, I work as an Art Director and Graphic Designer.


Solo Shows:
· The Mystery of the Ordinary, Casa Romantica, San Clemente, CA, 2014
· This is Not a Photograph, Studio Gallery, Irvine, 2013
· Walkabout, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2008
· Orange County Airport Community Focus Space, 2008-9

Selected Awards and Shows:
· Exhibitor, Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, Summer 2014
· Empty Kingdom Group Show, 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2014
· Viewpoints: Orange County, Chemer’s Gallery, Tustin, CA, 2014 (1st Prize  
· LA Noir, Tirage Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA, 2013
· Exhibitor, Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, Summer 2013
· Featured Artist, Installation Magazine, 2013
· Group Show, Bistango, Irvine, CA, March-July, 2013
· Solo Show, Studio Gallery, Irvine, CA, January 2013
· Featured Artist, Orange Coast Magazine, January 2013
· Featured Artist, Art in the OC, August 2012
· Best of Show & Division Winner, Orange County Fair, 2012
· Winner, 2012 Landscape Contest, Artist Portfolio Magazine
· Travel Show, Tirage Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA 2012
· Featured artist, Blue Canvas Magazine, issue 12, Spring 2002
· Grand prize winner, Summer show, 2nd City Gallery, Long Beach, CA, 2011 –
  Charles Phoenix, Curator
· Summer Salon, Tirage Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA 2011
· Guest Artist, The Artist Eye, Laguna Beach, CA 2011
· The Neon Show, Austin Details, Austin, TX 2010
· Art Kudos International Competition 2010, finalist
· California Open Exhibition, Long Beach Arts, Long Beach, CA
· Urban Ambience, Long Beach Arts, 2009 – Mike Daniel, Juror
· California Dreaming – Paintings of the Golden State, Tirage Art Gallery, 2009
· Group Show, 2nd City Council Art Space, Long Beach, CA 2009
· California Open Exhibition, TAG Gallery, Santa Monica, CA 2008
· Artists Magazine, 24th Art Competition, Finalist (2x), Landscape
· Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Open Salon, 2007
· Crackerjack Group Show, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, CA, 2007
· Sexy Beasts Group Show, Art Murmur Gallery, Los Angeles, 2007
· TURF Group Show, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2007
· Made in California, Brea Civic & Cultural Center, Brea, CA, 2007
· Metroscapes Group Show, Art Murmur Gallery, Los Angeles, 2006
· Made in California, Brea Civic & Cultural Center, Brea, CA, 2006
· Artists Magazine, 22nd Art Competition, Finalist, Still Life
· Orange County Biennial, 2001