Relief Printing - Still Life Drawings - Fruit and Vegetable Drawings by Anna Curtis.

An interest in sustainable gardening led Anna Curtis to make still life drawings, which include fruit and vegetable drawings of fresh produce from her garden in North Queensland, Australia, as she planned her latest body of work.

Anna Curtis in her studio, holding one of her linoprints, the drying rack behind.Anna Curtis in her Port Douglas studio.

These sketches were then transferred to Anna’s preferred printmaking material, a lino-block, and carved with a sharp carving tool before being printed by hand, in a reduction lino printing process, onto high quality Arches rag paper, using oil based printing inks.

Technically, Anna is “streets ahead” of most other print-makers, who use relief printing. Using the “reduction” method of building up an image with successive layers of colours and cutting away already printed surfaces of her lino-block, Anna displays patience and skill, born of many years of development, to take her art form to the highest level possible.

''On the Shelf' - linoblock uses pale blues to present image of chinese ginger jars, teapots, cups, plates and vases in a line on a shelf.'On the Shelf 1' - 150 x 425mm

Still life drawings become still life relief prints. Click here for an overview of Anna’s relief printing methods.

'On The Shelf 2' - still life linoblock print in reds and oranges with mangoes and red-gum flowers'On The Shelf 2' - 425 x 150mm

But although it is important, technique is secondary to her work and occurs as part of a process of which she is often not conscious.

The concept, the materials, the hand and eye become as one with the work, which seems to develop of its own volition, so there is always an element of surprise for her when the prints are completed.

'Power of Passion' - square mandala with passion fruit flower at centre and fruit in pattern around - reds and purples. Linoblock print'Power of Passion' - 300 x 300mm

Anna explains her working methods in developing still life drawings to linoblock 'paintings' in this new 'garden' series:

"I have approached many of the new works in this series differently to most other reduction linoprints.

In combination with the reduction linoprint technique, I have used stencils to mask out the ink and have worked on individual fruits, teapots etc to achieve subtle effects.

As is the case with all the linoprints I create, drawing is central and integral to the process. The image unfolds like a painting in some ways.

It is very much a layering process, as I use one block to create a multi colored image. Most people who make coloured linoprints print a black and white image and then hand colour sections. Using the reduction method gives a unique quality and because I print by hand using a special baren, there is slight variation between each print in the edition.

It’s a complex process involving many skills, including drawing, carving and printing. There is also the added element of having to plan for the image printing in reverse to the carved image on the linoblock. Lots to think about!

It takes a great deal of concentration to create a reduction linoprint, and as I am literally destroying the lino as I go, there is no turning back once it is complete".

'Fruit Feast' - tropical fruit arranged in mandala, 'fabric' pattern behind - linoblock print.'Fruit Feast' - 480 x 480mm

Meticulous in her working methods and planning, it is only to be expected that the work space of this brilliant print-maker would be highly organised. Anna’s efficient studio is only a few steps from her beloved garden, or the kitchen in which she creates culinary delights, cooking with spices, vegetables and herbs, still alive when they go into the pot!

'Spice Box' - wooden box with partitions holding various spices - linoblock print'Spice Box' - 320 x 210mm

So it is that drawings of vegetables quickly find a home with still life drawings of ginger pots, flower drawings and garden sketches.

Tend the garden, nourish the soul, stir the pot, carve the linoblock – Anna’s creative mind is at work!

She says, “I love to grow the food I eat and to share fresh produce with others. It gives me great pleasure to dig in the vegetable patch, to plant seeds by the moon rhythms and to nurture the plants daily until they are ready to harvest. This seemingly simple, domestic activity keeps me in harmony with the earth and the creatures that inhabit my small garden. It creates a feeling of wonderment and purpose.”

'Laksa for Lunch' - partitioned wooden box with garden spices and vegetables - linoblock print'Laksa for Lunch' - 320 x 210mm

Anna has aptly named this latest collection of still life drawings which have become linoblock relief prints ‘Spice of Life’ and explains that “fruits, vegetables and spices are its main ingredients. These are combined with such domestic pleasures as making lemongrass tea in a favourite teapot or eating a delicious laksa. The whole is then mixed with favourite objects, intricate patterns and textures of cloth and a dash of good humour for a feast of images that will lift the spirit and feed the soul.”

'Lunch on the Verandah wit the Solanaceae Family' - garden vegetables on black background surround an image of a table set for lunch for two - linoblock print..'Lunch on the Verandah with the Solanaceae Family' - 380 x 300mm

I am sure that this ‘down to earth’ artist has enjoyed the process as much as the viewer will relish the results! If you would like to see more of Anna’s past and current work please check out her website for more images or make an enquiry direct from her by filling in the short form below.

Please also enjoy this video of Anna hard at work in her studio.

Some of Anna's Other Subjects

Anna linoprint of Western Australian wildflowers growing in the bush - detail of linoprintAnna Curtis - Western Australian wildflowers
green and black grassboys growing in yellow ochre grass , red hills in distance - detail of linoprint'Grassboys' Anna Curtis
coral in blue water nearLow isles - detail of linoprintCorals, Low Isles
Figs - outside and inside of fruit on black backgroundFigs
Dragonfruit - inner and outer parts of fruit - detailDragonfruit
Mangosteen, white inside and outer red skin of fruitMangosteen
passionfruit showing seeds inside and outer shellPassionfruit
Lino print by Anna Curtis, 'Into the Garden'Into the Garden
pomegranate - red seeds inside fruit, tough outer skinPomegranate
Detail of  still life, mangosteen fruit on table in foregroundWaiting in the Wings 1
Artist, Anna Curtis, works on a lino blockAnna at work
still life with blue bowl of pearsWaiting in the Wings 2
'Fresh Ginger' - ginger plant and rhizome with traditional Chinese blue ginger jar.Fresh Ginger
poinciana flowers in vase, red petals falling - detailPoinciana
panels of red banksia flowers'Red Banksia', Anna Curtis
panels of orange grevillea flowersGrevillea
red flowering gum and leaves cascade down the printFree Falling
'Congregating' - red and orange butterflies with one blue flutter about in this lino printCongregating Wanderers

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