Phil Ward expresses his automotive passion through digital artistry

09/20/2013 12:12 PM

11/18/2013 11:25 AM

Phil Ward’s plunge into digital art began several years ago when his son-in-law gave him a copy of Photoshop. Little did he know how that would shape his future avocation of producing vintage automotive art compositions.

Ward, 69, from Paola, retired in 2006 from a job as the business operations manager of the Osawatomie State Hospital. Ward’s education includes a degree in Russia Area Studies from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and a master’s degree in International Business from the Monterey Institute in Monterey, Calif. Much of his career has been spent in public health administration.

Ward’s interest in cars began when, as a teenager, he spent his weekly allowance on automotive magazines. After retirement, he began to immerse himself in digital art, experimenting with various techniques as he taught himself several computer programs.

“I started by taking photos of hot rods at a local car show,” he said, hoping to make some posters. He has since turned his interest to vintage sports cars.

“This is a journey, an affair of the heart. I really like the Golden Era of vintage sports cars and I try to preserve that era with my art,” he said. “I like sharing it with other folks and I don’t do anything I wouldn’t put on my own walls.”

A recent article in Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car magazine described his work as “The Future Meets the Past.”

Ward’s artwork begins with a 35mm slide, negative, scanned photograph or digital image. While some photos are his own, many come from professional or amateur photographers who provide images to him. He then begins creating his compositions by transforming the original image using a wide range of techniques and digital tools. He describes his work as “painting on a photograph” rather than painting from a photograph.

He reproduces giclee, or high-resolution inket prints, on a variety of materials, from archival art paper to canvas, acrylic and metallic photographic paper, typically in 16x20 or 20x30 sizes. Prices start around $600.

In 2009, Ward donated one of his works to the charity auction of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and he has done so every year since. Several of his compositions have been signed by notable personalities such as Bobby Rahal, Lee Holman and Gary Wales. His goal, he said, is to donate $10,000 worth of work in 10 years, and so far he’s up to $6,000. Examples of his work can be seen on his website,

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