Exploring Nature through drawing, painting and writing have fascinated me since childhood. Like a schooner under sail, I've tacked between Art and Science all my working life. While this hasn't made for rapid progress or artistic acclaim, it has paid the bills and blessed me and mine in other ways.
-Gary Saunders, 1998
Gary Saunders was born in Gander Bay, Newfoundland, in 1935. In 1953 Saunders attended the Newfoundland Academy of Art, owned and operated by artists Helen Parsons Shepherd and Reginald Shepherd. Facing the difficulty of making a career as an artist, Saunders decided to study forestry. He earned a bachelor of science from the University of New Brunswick in 1959 and returned to Newfoundland to teach and work in the Newfoundland forestry industry.
In 1960, Saunders studied at the Ontario College of Art for one year. He graduated in 1965, with a bachelor of fine arts from Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick. He then lived in Truro, Nova Scotia, working with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests as a writer and illustrator. Saunders also conducted art workshops at Mount Allison University and, when he returned to Newfoundland, worked briefly as an instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He frequently visited Gander Bay, painting landscape-based abstracts which have been exhibited across Canada, including in the Atlantic Pavilion at Expo ‘67.
Living in Nova Scotia in recent years, Saunders' focus has shifted towards writing. His publications include the books Alder Music, The Wildlife of Atlantic Canada and New England, Rattles and Steadies: Memoirs of a Gander River Man and Doctor Olds of Twillingate and he has had articles published in Atlantic Provinces Book Review and The Journal of Forest History.
In addition to the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador's Permanent Collection, Saunders' work can be found in private and public collections including the Hudson's Bay Company, Mount Allison University, and The Canada Council Art Bank