Article published in the Auburn Journal:

Animals Inspire Duo of Local Artists
By Loryll Nicolaisen - Journal Features Editor
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Story appeared in the Lifestyle section, Page B1
View the article on the Journal's web site

"Hey Kid" is one of many pet portraits created by Newcastle artist Ann Ranlett, who says 90 percent of her work is "critter art."

Some artists depend on a muse to find inspiration. Others find it with something that meows, quacks or barks.

Two of the three May featured artists at the Auburn Old Town Gallery, 218 Washington St., have an artistic connection to animals.

Ann Ranlett said 90 percent of her product is “critter art.”

“It’s been a life long love of animals,” said the Newcastle artist.

Ranlett started drawing and painting pet portraits around 10 years ago, projects commissioned by friends. Her commission list grew to a point that she was able to quit her job about five years ago.

“I have a great time because I’m meeting people who love their pets,” she said.
Ranlett’s process starts by photographing her subject, which she said provides an opportunity to get to know the animal.

“I get good photos, and photos make a big difference,” she said.

Ranlett said she mostly paints dog portraits, “lots of chihuahuas, quite a few golden retrievers.”

“Cats are nice but not as special as some dogs,” she said.

Not all projects are quite so domesticated, though.

“I actually have a commission for a snail,” Ranlett said. “That is probably one of the stranger ones on my list.”

Ranlett also said goats are fun to work with. She also recently created a portrait of a potbelly pig, Homer, for a local animal rescue group.

No matter the critter, Ranlett said she always looks forward to the end result.

“It’s always butterflies in my stomach when I turn a portrait over to the owner,” she said.

Mary Prantil also knows her subjects quite well. She’s been raising llamas and angora goats in Colfax for 14 years.

“The natural progression is to take that wonderful fiber and put it into my art work,” said the fiber artist. “Each animal is a treasure in its own color values.”

Prantil loves “to be able to spin the fiber, take it right from the hoof and spin it and make it into a creation.”

She also likes working with color, dimension and texture, creating tapestries and felting.

It’s not hard for Prantil to find inspiration.

“It’s all surrounded with my ranch, and the forest,” she said. “I live in the forest, and it really has an influence on my work and my work and my colors.”

The Journal's Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln [at]