Ward Saunders’ still life and figures are inspired by the paradox of emptiness; a concept where form relies on space and space relies on form. The emptiness of the “canvas” gives way to Saunders’ paintings as they come to life within the space. Whether using glass or human subjects, he is creating images that dance between detail and soft suggestion. His subjects are both solid and in transition, allowing the viewer to connect and at times to complete details on the “canvas” of their own minds.
Saunders is approaching each subject as if it not only exists in its space, but also as if it is inherently connected to its space. To achieve this, he builds multi-layered paintings with a mixed media process consisting of watercolor and water mixable oils. His use of this seemingly contradicting oil and water pairing is in fact agreeable as he gently coaxes them to interrelate with one another. Saunders skillfully applies the paint so that it frequently expresses itself while being washed, dripped, and weaved into a final image. He creates a finished artwork that is both rendered with detail and suggested with abstraction.
Saunders’ interest in the interrelatedness of opposing forces, a Chinese concept called Yin and Yang, is a prevalent theme in his artwork. Whether with oil and water, form and formlessness, or light and dark, such opposite pairings are a common thread derived from his inquires into and practice of martial arts, meditation, and eastern philosophy.