Helen Ward, 'All Dressed Up: in which a jackdaw "borrows" some feathers' (The Jackdaw and the Peacocks)

Helen Ward, 'All Dressed Up: in which a jackdaw "borrows" some feathers' (The Jackdaw and the Peacocks)

Helen Ward
'All Dressed Up: in which a jackdaw "borrows" some feathers' (The Jackdaw and the Peacocks)
2004
Ink, watercolour and gouache illustration
From 'Unwitting Wisdom: an Anthology of Aesop's animal fables'
Published by Templar, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.MM.57

Helen Ward is known for her vibrant and dynamic picture books featuring birds or animals. She paints in watercolour and gouache, sometimes removing colour to achieve more tonal variety, and uses a Rapidograph pen for detail. She designs the whole page layout in her picture books, which she says can take about six months to make. Sometimes drawing from life, she also makes use of wildlife films to observe movement.

A major influence was the Ashmolean's Impey collection of Indian 18th century natural history paintings, which impressed her for the "crispness of the execution, and the fact that the drawing, though objective, is not entirely realistic".

Ward studied at Brighton Art School in the 1980s with ambitions to become a natural history illustrator. On graduating, she was approached by publisher Templar and has made illustrated books for them ever since. Recent work includes a contribution to Templar's 'Ologies' series, a picture book 'Wonderful Life' about a rodent who studies wildlife on another planet, and 'Varmints', soon to be an animated film about noise pollution.