Vanna Bartlett’s twin passions as a child were drawing and wildlife, the two happily combining. Although she studied art to A level standard she is largely self-taught, especially when it comes to print-making. She lives in Norwich where she has spent most of her life.
The natural world is a constant source of inspiration for Vanna and she thinks of herself as very much an amateur naturalist as well as an artist. In fact the two go hand in hand, for it is her passion for wildlife that makes her want to capture it on paper while the artist in her wants to explore the relationships between plants and animals in paint and print.
The backbone of Vanna’s work is observation and field sketching – building up a mental as well as physical picture of each subject. She spends as much time as she can outdoors observing and sketching wildlife, from her back garden and allotments to the countryside of Norfolk and further afield. Back in the studio, she employs sketches, memory and experience to create a composition study drawing suitable for a linocut print.
The design element is very important to Vanna and she condenses her observations into a strong composition, starting off working in black and white so that she can concentrate on the overall design rather than worrying about colour blocks and overlaps.
Her earliest prints were often simply hand coloured with watercolour but now she cuts several blocks to print different colours and employs the reduction technique – re-cutting the same block for subsequent colours. She has a small table-top screw press for printing, or hand burnishes using a flat glass paperweight.
Of her work Vanna says “I try to retain the liveliness and spontaneity of my field sketches in the final linocut whilst creating a strong graphic image”.
Vanna’s distinctive linocuts have featured on Christmas cards for the RSPB and Amnesty International.
Vanna has exhibited her linocut prints in The Birdscapes Gallery in Norfolk since 2012. She has exhibited at the annual Norwich Print Fair and in 2015 and 2016 she exhibited in The Natural Eye Exhibition at Mall Galleries. She also regularly participates in Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.
The Artful Hare by Alan Marshall
The Printmakers Cat (revised and extended edition) by Alan Marshall
The Elegant Fowl by Alan Marshall
Fine Print (a celebration of 20 years of The Norwich Print Fair) by Alan Marshall