On June 26, 1905, in Chicago, Illinois, Ward entered the world to a mother named Daisy and a father named Harry who worked as a Methodist minister and a local political organizer. Ward spent Sunday afternoons looking at a couple books the family owned because his religion forbid him from playing games or engaging in other activities after church. But, the illustrations in those books stayed with Ward, impressing him deeply. Due to his frailty and illness at a young age, Ward and his family traveled during the summer to a cabin in the Canadian woods near Lonely Lake. After the first summer, Ward's health dramatically improved, and the family enjoyed their time in the wilderness for many years.
Appreciating his new found health, Ward loved the outdoors. As a means to capture what he saw, in the first grade Ward determined to become an artist because his last name spelled backward said "draw." Over the years he pursued his dream and entered the Teachers College of Columbia University to earn a bachelor's degree in fine arts. After graduation he married his wife, a writer, and together they ventured to Germany where Ward studied at the National Academy for Graphic Arts. Rigorous instruction and a trip through a bookshop sealed Ward's future as an artist.
At the book store he encountered a book that told its story through woodcuts alone, without any words. Inspired, Ward returned to the United States and created Gods' Man. It was the first long story told through wood engravings to be published in the U. S. Though he had illustrated for other authors, this work was Ward's first published book, and five more wordless novels in woodcuts followed. Ward also collaborated with his wife to produce children's books and even penned and illustrated his own, such as the Caldecott Medal winner, The Biggest Bear. Ward eventually earned six Newbery Honor Medals and two Newbery Medals for his illustrated books.
In his fifty year career, this award-winning artist illustrated well over one hundred works for children and adults, including illustrations in magazines such as Boys Life. Accomplished in woodcuts, Ward also designed artwork using watercolor, oils, brush and ink, and lithography. A perfectionist who paid close attention to detail, Ward utilized his imagination and craftsmanship to create emotions and dramatization. This gifted illustrator suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and he passed away on June 28, 1985, leaving behind an incredible artistic legacy.
Did you find this review helpful?