About Heather Ward

Heather Ward with a scratchboard drawing
Through the course of my life, two things have been constant besides family: drawing and animals. As far back as I can remember, I was always drawing animals. I was never interested in drawing houses, or flowers, or people. By middle school, I taught myself equine anatomy and drew lots of horses. As the book Jurassic Park came out, I hit a second dinosaur phase and was drawing dinosaurs most of the time.

In college, most of what I drew consisted of math symbols or geometric shapes. No wonder, since I was a math and physics major and didn't have time for more than doodling during class. I was fascinated when I learned about homoclinic tangles, which, when graphed, look rather like fish with lots of fins.

I moved to New Mexico with my husband, and worked at the National Lab for a couple years. I quit my job and stayed at home with our two children. What better opportunity to start drawing again? I like the simple pencil, because it is familiar and not messy. With small children, I didn't want to be dealing with paints. Graphite led into charcoal, which I used for several years. I loved the darkness and softness of charcoal.

I started seeing scratchboard on several of the art websites I joined. I liked the striking contrast of it, but it looked intimidating. I had done the black-paint-on-crayon-on-paper craft at school, and saw no way around making mistakes, except not to make them in the first place. For Christmas, 2012, I bit the bullet and asked for a starter set. To this day, I have not put it down.

The high-contrast nature of scratchboard seems to bring drawings to life, and animals in particular are well-suited to scratchboard because of the techniques used to remove the black ink from the white clay-coated board. It is no wonder, then, that I love this medium.

I have spent a lot of time drawing portrait-style boards of animals, and recently I have been expanding into more scenic or unique compositions. My tree-hugger nature is returning, and in addition to helping local wildlife hospitals and international wildlife conservation efforts, I am starting to create art that creates awareness of poaching, global climate change, and other human-related causes of species extinction.