Anita Saunders

Anita Saunders – a passion for print

As a painter printmaker, Anita spends her days creating original artwork inspired by the natural world around her, from her studio in The Cotswolds.

“Even if my walks take me on the same well-trodden footpath or bridleway, there’s always something different to see. With a huge variety of birds visiting our garden daily, I find inspiration quite literally, on my doorstep. The result can be an oil painting, a lino cut, screen print or drypoint and I love the different processes employed to create them.”

All original

While most people have a clear understanding and appreciation of painting, Anita finds it’s sometimes not the case when it comes to printmaking.

“Living in this digital age, it’s wholly understandable the term ‘print’ is associated with something which is a digitally printed reproduction of ‘an original’.

“As a traditional printmaker, I am keen to pass on the message that lino prints, screen prints, etchings, aquatints, mezzotints etc, etc are all original artworks. They are conceived, composed and created as a numbered, signed and limited editioned work of art.”

A closer look 

Art Gallery SW has several of Anita’s screen prints available and we asked her to tell us more about them.

“I find this method of printmaking enables me to use a bold palette to create vibrant prints which fizz with colour. Myprints are created in small editions of no more than 20 prints; often it’s closer to a dozen. Whirlybird and Little Munchkin are two examples.

“These brightly coloured prints were inspired by the blackbirds who visit my garden every day. They keep me endlessly entertained all year round. Their continuous presence and cheeky characters inspired me to create, what will be a set of four images, representing a scene from each of the seasons.

Whirlybird  has the blackbird perched on a pot of nasturtiums at the height of summer, as he’s busily hunting grubs and flies for his current brood. Little Munchkin has him ruling the mini pumpkin patch, during one of his foraging sessions amongst the leaves of autumn. Both artworks take their titles from the plants depicted in the scene – Whirlybird being a nasturtium variety and Little Munchkin a mini pumpkin. Both titles were to me, a perfect fit for their subject.”

The process

So, how exactly were these pieces made?

“Well, screen printing is a method of creating an image on a surface, or ‘substrate’ i.e. paper, by forcing ink through a taught mesh which is pulled tight around a wooden or metal frame.

“There are numerous ways to create the image. I use drawing fluid and screen block to work directly on the mesh to create each screen required to make up the composition. I created 18 separate screens to produce Whirlybird – that’s a lot of running around the garden to the outside tap and back (there’s a lot of washing of the screens), so my chosen method of printing is quite involved.

“First, I draw out my full colour design. I then decide how many individual colours will be required to create the finished piece. Each colour is printed separately, one at a time, and is layered one over the other to build up the finished image. The coloured inks can be made opaque or transparent, so it’s interesting to find how they mix on the paper. This can be trial and error but I love the thrill of lifting the screen the first time of printing a new colour, to see what lies beneath.”

Lifting the lid

Anita is happy to talk about the techniques she uses.

“I never tire, when given the opportunity, to see for myself how a brief chat about an image’s creation can lift the lid on a previously unknown art form. It’s brilliant to see a person’s appreciation for a particular piece grow, just by knowing a little more about how it came into being. I’m also fascinated to hear other artists’ experiences and to learn from them. It’s a constant learning experience and I’m always keen to know more and to share what I know.”

More information

You can read a more detailed step-by-step account of the drawing fluid process of screen printing and find out more about some of the other printmaking techniques Anita uses here

To see Anita’s work in person, visit her solo exhibition ‘Call of the Wild’, at Corinium Museum in Cirencester until 4 September.

Browse and keep up to date with Anita’s work available through Art Gallery SW

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