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Friday, March 2, 2012

Featured Artist: Ann Ranlett

"Boston Style" on Claybord with India Ink
Ann Ranlett is an illustrator and artist, specializing in pet and animal artworks.  She uses a variety of mediums, including pen and ink, colored pencil, watercolors and Ampersand Scratchbord™.  Working from photos that she takes herself, Ann gets to know her subjects personally so that she can create portraits emphasizing the nuances of each subject.

With a degree in biology, a background in scientific illustration and a lifelong interest in nature, conservancy and animal rescue, Ann is at home painting animal portraits.  Her portfolio and clientele list are extensive as seen on her website, but her persona and presence with animals is down to earth.  

Ann's work in scratchboard began back in 1999, when she discovered working on boards at a Guild of Natural Science Illustrator's conference.  Before that she had been working with pen and ink on paper for years, but she particularly loved the forgiving nature of the scratchboard medium which gave her flexible options for her work in black and white. 
"Rommel" on Scratchbord tinted with Derwent Inktense

In particular, Ann began working on Ampersand's Scratchbord™ because she was familiar with the Aquabord™ for her mixed media pet portraits.  She actually began using the white Claybords™ first for her scratch work because she was familiar using the white grounds, but found inspiration using Scratchbord™ from other artists' success.

Ann is drawn to her range of mediums depending on her subject matter, some of which call for color and others that need to be grayscale, "some looser in style and others in tight details," Ann explains.  "In the case of a commission, it's what the client prefers."  She likes using a range of mediums as an artist because it gives her a chance to stretch her style; creating in watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, mixed media and scratchboard helps Ann push her work to new levels.

"I'm really in my element when working  on Scratchbord™; it’s quite forgiving and I like the challenge of creating intricate detail and texture with black, white and shades of grey. I also enjoy working in graphite pencil for the same reasons," says Ann.  Ann encourages beginners to try Scratchbord™ because it is so much more forgiving than traditional scratchboard paper.  "People seem to think that it's really difficult, but they don't realize that good quality boards can be re-worked quite a bit and that a mistake is not permanent.  It's a portable medium, too; all you need is a board and a knife to get going."

"Baby Cottontail" on Stampbord with ink, watercolor and colored pencil
To see more of Ann's work or learn about her events and her process, check out her blog at: or her website:

To learn more about other artists using Scratchbord, check out the newly formed International Society of Scratchboard Artists and the WetCanvas! Scratchboard Forum.