Ward's Unusual Art-Processes

Ward's art since 2007 has included uncommon features.
Some seem new to painting.

Potentially-new features include:
~ OmniDirectional composition (and hang-wire rigging)
~ Modular-MashUp Mixability
~ ExPainting

Lesser innovations:
~ Zixts
~ ManuscriptDrips
~ Gravity-Effects
~ Water Effects
~ Fire Effects
~ Mobile-Monumentality

Such techniques give Ward art a distinctive look.
Scroll down for detail.

OmniDirectional Art
Most Ward art is composed and wired to hang at any angle: upside down, tilted, vertical, horizontal.

Some panels of Series 40 hung vertically (with alternating panels upside-down) --compare to image below.

Some panels of Series 40 hung at angles (within a whole-wall MashUp-Mix of several other series groups) --compare to image above.

A famous antecedent, Neo-Expressionist artist Julian Schnabel's occasional upside-down paintings of the 1980's, still had a particular "top" and "bottom" --just reversed from the normal expectation. Some late Frank Stella pieces also could be inverted. Hanging a traditional painting upside down is simple compared to OmniDirectional design. Ward's art goes further by allowing any piece to be inverted or reverted or tilted any way any time --perhaps even having several orientations throughout the run of an exhibit. Designing and rigging one's art to hang at any angle seems to be new to painting.

Classic Ward diagram showing some possible exhibit layouts of an eight-panel OmniDirectional panel group.

Panels Ward paints upon are a standard size: one by six-and-a-half feet. It is a potentially-problematic aspect ratio. Normally a very long span of hanging-wire would be unable to stop the art from sliding out of control if the art were tilted; however, Ward's innovative hang-wire rigging pattern avoids the problem.

Ward now thinks of art with a clearly-intended top and bottom as "UniDirectional" (or just conventional). Some art (imagine a single-color canvas) does have OmniDirectional capability in its design-composition, but lacks the artist's intent (and the appropriate hanging system)to be hung at any angle and so is not truly OmniDirectional.

Modular-MashUp Mixability
Most Ward art after 2007 is made in series-groups of same-sized panels. Usually there are four similar panels --sometimes just two, sometimes up to twelve. Ward considers each panel to be a unique piece capable of being hung (and sold) on its own. Also, it may be combined by curators or patrons with other Ward panels from different series. The mixes and art "mash-ups" generate new possibilities. Allowing such third-party modification of the art allows a bit of so-called "Relational Aesthetics" creeping into flat paintings; Ward embraces the potential for buyers, exhibitors, and perhaps even visitors to modify, distract-from, rearrange, or perhaps amplify whatever meanings or messages the art originally might have had. The modular-mashup mixability of Ward's art seems to be new to painting. (In theory, all Ward art could mix in a 500-foot uberMashUp.) Examples:

Ward's Series 230 hung vertically and in MashUp with panels of Series 217.

Ward's Chemo panels in MashUp mix display with Falling Fig Leaves.

Ward's panel group Flag in MashUp display with remaining panels of Stop Loss.

Any six panels of any series' pictures placed tightly together form a near-square.

ExPainting is a new Ward technique developed years ago. The strange effect can give the appearance of having made dripwork with some sort of special multicolored, marbleized, collaged paint. First, a surface is painted/collaged/written-upon or otherwise marked --call it Layer One. Second, dripwork of thick and slow-drying paint is applied --Layer Two. Next the whole is covered with fast-drying paint --Layer Three. When Layer Three is dry but Layer Two is not-yet dry, Layer Two (the dripwork) is removed. The strange result is a surface with Layer Three as the background and with --apparently-- dripwork shapes in the foreground which have the colors and effects of Layer One. Viewers see not the Layer Two dripwork, but instead the "ghost" shapes of where it had been. ExPainting seems to be new to painting.

Examples from Series 326:

Examples from Series 330

The word BIAP (exclamation point optional) is both onomatopoeic and an acronym: for Ballistic-Initiated Aerosol Paint. The art is placed on the ground, the artist places a can of spraypaint above the art, and then fires a bullet at the spraypaint can. Through the bullet's entry and exit holes, the entire supply of pressurized paint empties instantaneously. A room-sized cloud of color appears and quickly dissipates. The coverage pattern and appearance differs from typical spraypaint use. In a variation, the artist before shooting mists the art surface with water, mineral spirits, or other liquids prior to the explosive paint application; this creates unusual clumps and flakes of the spray-pigment. BIAP seems to be new to painting.

There is a GrumpyVisualArtist BIAP demo on Youtube [ video ].
Note: the video is in four scenes in a Youtube looped playlist --so if after 6-7 minutes things seems familiar, it is because you're repeating.


Black BIAP visible in a detail of Series 200. (Yellow dripwork overlay purposefully partially de-painted with later water-effects.)

Black BIAP visible in a detail of Series 200. (Yellow dripwork overlay purposefully partially de-painted with later water-effects.)

Goldflake water-BIAP specks and clumps visible in a detail of Series 326.

Goldflake water-BIAP specks and clumps visible in a detail of Series 326.

Goldflake water-BIAP specks and clumps visible in a detail of Series 326.

Notice: Gun use in most cities is against local gun-ownership prohibitions. Ward's art involving gunfire is not made at the Brooklyn/Red Hook sites. No Ward art involving firearms is made in the jurisdiction of New York City.
Warning: Bullets can kill. Paint-cloud mishaps can blind. Using firearms to disperse spraypaint is potentially deadly and should not be imitated.

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Lesser innovations or distinctive features:

SPOW stands for SprayPaint On Water (or just SprayPaint On Wet). Ward innovated SPOW in the late 1980's. The look is unusual. Fast-drying aerosol paint goes atop water or still-wet oil or latex paint. Tipping the panel can add certain gravity effects. Examples:

Detail of Series 230. SPOW effect visible in black color.

Detail of Series 230. SPOW effect (onto wet paint) visible in right side's black color --also some gravity effects.

Detail of Series 260. SPOW effect visible in green "ghost droplet" shapes at bottom.

Detail of Series 170. SPOW effect visible in arc of gold/brown color.

A Zixt is a Zip (a stripe-element in the manner of Barnett Newman [wiki-def]) with text --added in the form of collage or frottage. Ward has also used zixts to create curves, loops, and cursive lettering (example of the latter: Series 270). Zixt examples:

Straight-line zixt on a portion of Series 320.

Looping zixts on a portion of Series 235.

Looping zixts on a portion of Series 235.

Dripwork a la Jackson Pollock except the free-falling paint through quick wrist-flicks and jerks is formed into manuscript.
Some paint-flow, distortion, and other intentional blemishes kept or added for expressive effect. In keeping with Ward's OmniDirectional design philosophy, readable messages (if any) may be rightside-up, upside-down, or angled within the same picture. Examples:

Detail from Series 210 with manuscriptdrips saying (upside-down) "pointless".

Detail from Series 210 with manuscriptdrips saying "take the".

Manuscriptdrips all over Series 45 aka Blue Star Mom.

Ward paints on rigid hollow wood panels. Unlike painting upon loose canvas laid upon the ground, rigid panels allow art in progress to be stood up vertically as needed. A favorite Ward effect (in use since the late 1980's) is to pile up various layers of oil, acrylic, latex, water, and spraypaint while the panel is horizontal --and then to raise the panel to vertical (or various angles) to force directional dripping, solvent-runoff, craquelure, water flow, and other effects. Marbleizing and grid-dripwork seen on many Ward pictures is from induced-commingling brought on by gravity effects. The technique is at least somewhat novel since most artists don't tilt their art to various angles to promote drip-creation, drip direction-change, or craquelure-instigation during the typical paint-drying phase.

Water Effects
Brushstrokes or dripwork might be applied, allowed to begin drying, and then hosed away almost entirely --leaving only some outlines where the painted shape's edges managed to dry. Also of course water might be poured onto the wet paint while the art is either flat or stood-up vertically --reducing hard edges to blurs and washes. Water with aerosol paint on top (SprayPaint On Water aka SPOW) has its own descriptive section. Various water effects (usually also with a gravity-effects element) shown below.

Fire Effects
Ward uses fire effects on some art. "At least partial controlled-burning of one's own art is the ultimate thesis project; anyone --regardless of academic credentials earned-- who hasn't set parts of their paintings on fire and kept in control of the process needs to go there to move beyond 'beginner' status" --Terry Ward at a forum. Ward fire effect examples:

Mobile Monumentality is relates to the standard Ward art panel size (one by six-and-a-half feet) which often composes a series group; a skinny though tall panel allows easy storage and transit. At least 45 Ward art panels will fit in a small Subaru station wagon --enough to fill a 35'x55' space easily. The OmniDirectional / Modular-MashUp philosophy says that even one Ward work from a series, alone, is a worthy painting on its own --needing only around 14 inches of linear wallspace if the panel is hung vertically.


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More WARD ART here.

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