Wildlife Miniatures on Gold and Copper Leaf
By Anita Saunders
Oil on copper foil
Image size: H: 10cm x W 10cm
Framed size: H: 18.5cm x W: 18.5cm
Titles, in order as above: Fruitful, Holding On, Harvester, Colour of Spring, Jack Sparrow and Autumn Greenfinch
In Spring 2024 we are introducing a choice of toning frame colours and a matching easel stand to accompany each painting, if desired - see images above
These extremely unusual and meticulously-created miniature bird and mouse paintings are genuinely delightful and technically excellent - examples of how very good things can come in small packages. They pay tribute to some of our most popular wild birds and small mammals and highlight conservation and habitat issues.
"The inspiration to incorporate metal leaf in my painting came from my introduction to stained glass. I wanted to capture some of that luminosity in my paintings, to enhance colours and draw the eye to certain areas. Applying paint to a gilded surface is transformational - a way to use reflected light to help produce increased vibrancy of colour. The appearance of the paintings changes with the light source, from gleaming bright to a soft, warm glow.
"I found the metallic surface very different to paint on and loved the effect. The process is quite time consuming but it’s a labour of love. "
Even before each bird is painted, there is a complex series of stages. Each small panel is primed with a layer of dark red acrylic paint and left to dry. Oil-based gilding size is applied and left to cure, then thin sheets of metal leaf are added to the surface and cure for up to three days. Finally, oil-based gilding size is used as a protective barrier and that is followed by a varnish.
Then, and only then, does each bird take shape in tiny brush marks and the completed work gets two more coats of varnish.
"Fruitful shows a dormouse surrounded by juicy red berries. They make the most of fruits and nuts to build up their body fat in readiness for hibernation. This little mouse has its eyes firmly on the prize. The Woodland Trust published an alarming statistic suggesting the dormouse population is in serious danger, having fallen by 52% since 1995."
"Colour of Spring represents that wonderful moment when the forsythia flowers arrive from their barren twigs in a blast of golden yellow. It's a sign spring is around the corner and the perfect accompaniment to our tenacious little garden bird, the robin. They bring colour, song and character all year round - definitely something to cherish."
ABOUT ANITA SAUNDERS
Anita was born and raised in The Cotswolds, in an 'area of outstanding natural beauty', which has been the life-long inspiration for her work.
Graduating with a BA in Fine Art from Exeter, today she works from her garden studio in the Wiltshire countryside, creating mainly in oil paint and traditional printmaking methods, a love of drawing underlying her work.
British wildlife and farm animals, together with the abundant flora of the hedgerows, are a constant source of inspiration. Hares, sheep, cattle and chickens appear time and again in Anita’s compositions. Her strictly limited editioned, hand-carved lino prints and hand-drawn and printed screen prints contain an extraordinary number of layers - often more than 20 - resulting in joyful prints which fizz with vibrant colour. Her oil paintings often incorporate copper and gold leaf, to enhance rich colours and reflect light.
“My aim is to reflect my personal admiration and respect for living things by creating artworks which capture a sense of their vital spark, to somehow elevate the subject from the ordinary or everyday. I love what I do and hope some of the joy I experience, when creating it, is shared with others when they look at it.”
Anita’s prints are gaining recognition, with work selected for inclusion in the Society of Women Artists Open exhibition, Mall Galleries, London in 2022 & 2023, the Bath Society of Artists Open Exhibition 2023 and Ironbridge Fine Art Printmakers 2023. Her miniature wildlife paintings on gold and copper leaf are exclusive to us and have attracted great admiration since the turn of 2024 when her first collection sold out.