Brushstroke of Genius - Mt. Sterling Artist Contributed to 2001 Kentucky Quarter Design
Article written by Carol Cowen in Images Magazine 2007-2008.
Mt. Sterling artist John Ward has accomplished something very few people can claim - he contributed to the design of the Kentucky quarter. Not just one, but two images created by Ward were chosen from a pool of 1,800 submissions to place among the final six used in the quarter's design concept.
The state coin bears the image of a thoroughbred horse in a rolling, fenced pasture in front of the Federal Hill mansion; its inscription reads My Old Kentucky Home.
Contributing artists were recognized at the quarter's unveiling in October 2001 - appropriately - at the Federal Hill mansion in Bardstown.
"I felt pretty honored," Ward says. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Contributing to the design of a state quarter may be a once-in-a-lifetime honor, but receiving accolades for his art seems to happen to Ward all the time.
His painting, Masters of the Forest, depicting four wolves crossing a snowy landscape, was chosen to grace 50,000 posters for a National Wolf Awareness Week campaign. The American Academy of Equine Art selected Ward's work for inclusion in the prestigious art show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington - and Ward's was the only horse-racing scene.
His work was also displayed at a Kentucky National Wildlife art exhibit in Henderson.
Ward and his family have called Mt. Sterling home for the past 17 years. "We like being close to the family," Ward says, "and there are a lot of things to paint. I love to paint horses, and I try to paint central Kentucky."
A senior designer at an architectural, engineering, and consulting firm, Ward paints in his spare time at the home he designed to accommodate his upstairs studio and gallery.
It was in 1995 that Ward turned his lifelong hobby into a second profession. The first print he sold portrayed bird dogs and quail. Following that came a series of beagle prints that sold like hotcakes. Soon Ward's art caught the attention of television personalities Dave Shuffett and Tim Farmer, who featured Ward on their shows "Kentucky Life" and "Kentucky Afield."
Before long, clients were coming to him. Today, Ward has been commissioned to create prints for the Boy Scouts of America, the National 4-H Council, Toyota, Ashland Oil, John Deere, the Kentucky League of Cities, Montgomery County and his alma mater, Morehead State University.
Ward says he plans to keep up the pace as long as he can see and paint. His success strategy is pretty straightforward. "I love to paint," he says. "I paint almost every day. I love doing something art-related all the time."