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Seattle artist Ryan Henry Ward has painted murals big and small all over the Pacific Northwest. He recently answered the call to bless Magnolia Lutheran Church with a henry original on the walls of its Sunday school room.

“There was a story that I told on Sunday morning that I used henry’s story as an example,” said Magnolia Lutheran Church pastor Kevin Bates. “And from that there was a person in our congregation who said, ‘I’m going to contact him.’”

That person was parish administrator Nancy Searle.

“I just shot him an email and told him we’d just painted the Sunday school room and there was a blank canvas that needed some color.”

Ward, who signs his work as henry, has a penchant for painting colorful animals and mythical creatures, such as the Pacific Northwest’s own Sasquatch.

He created comic strips in school, and created a degree program at Western Washington University that combined art, writing and storytelling for children. Ward said he took a few art classes, but by then had already developed his style.

“I like brights. I’ve kind of worked in all palettes,” he said. “I like doing things that people don’t expect from me, but I end up going back to big, bold, bright colors.”

Ward started painting on canvas, and had been working in a gallery in Fremont when he was commissioned to do his first mural; he now works out of Ballard.

“I average about 30 a year, and I’ve been doing it for 11 years,” Ward said.

Before taking on Magnolia Lutheran’s Sunday school, Ward had just completed a mural on the side of an old car wash on 15th Avenue West, before Dravus Street. He also recently painted a mural on the exterior of the Space Gallery at the Museum of Flight.

“What I can tell you is he has a deep respect for critters and animals, and the importance of imagination,” Bates said.

The first idea proposed for the Sunday school walls was Noah’s Ark, Bates said.

“He said, ‘You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of Noah’s Ark.’” He said it just has so much destruction in there,” said Bates, adding he agreed.

The church council ended up unanimously agreeing with a concept based around the lamb and the lion, a prophecy about the coming of Jesus, which was expanded to include more critters.

“The predator and prey are able to have a cup of coffee together or something,” Ward said.

The Seattle artist believes children are going to enjoy the new mural when they see it.

“They’re going to come in here and feel a little bit of excitement and life,” he said. “I’m sure their Sunday school teachers bring a lot of that too.”

For those who don’t attend Magnolia Lutheran, there are more than 200 signs of henry around the city. He also recently published an illustrated book, “A Squirrel’s Guide to Happiness,” where he shares words of wisdom as told by a squirrel.

More at itsahenry.com.