Special gift for Robbins, Dodge — California Wildlife Photo Contest winners

Photographers Randy Robbins and Michele Dodge , 2023 California Wildlife photo contest winners, received an unexpected gift — these one-of-a-kind Ann Ranlett miniatures.

Ann Ranlett in her own words
I’ve been an artist since I could hold a crayon. My parents encouraged my love of art and it has always been part of my life in some fashion. Animals are my favorite subjects, and I’ve rendered them in a variety of artistic techniques, finally settling on scratchboard, although I still dabble in other media.

Scratchboard is one of the less well-known mediums, but it’s actually similar to pen and ink drawing. With pen and ink (or pencil) the artist creates dark marks on a light surface. With scratchboard, we “draw white with a knife” on a black surface. I won’t go into all the nuances, but after scratching, color can be added. White boards can also be used, adding color or ink first, then scratching.

I work in a layering process: scratching, adding ink, scratching, adding ink, scratching, adding color, scratching … until I’ve achieved the look I want. Drawing with a knife blade allows for wonderful levels of detail and that’s one of the things I love about scratchboard.

I’m a Master-level member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (scratchboardsociety.org), and one of our goals as a society is to promote scratchboard as a fine art. I take that task seriously, offering demos whenever possible, and teaching scratchboard workshops. I’m a Signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, too.

I’m also a biologist, with a BS degree from CSU Sacramento. My love of animals, science and detail makes scratchboard a perfect process for my detail-freak, bio-nerd brain! I’m also a birder and am itching to get back to the Texas coast with my husband to enjoy the amazing birding opportunities there.

It was an honor to be asked to create drawings for Randy Robbins and Michele Dodge whose photos were in the top three for the California Wildlife Photo Contest of the Year 2023. To accommodate the small size of these drawings (1” square), I selected different photos than the winning images. I look for something that can fill as much 0f the square as possible and still be recognizable. I zoomed in on the faces for my references (Gray Fox by Randy representing the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and Sea Otter by Michele representing California Watchable Wildlife). These miniatures are less scratchboard technique, more drawing, using archival markers of various types, with a little bit of scratching to add detail, blend colors, and fine-tune.