Featured artist: Linda Lunnon

Ningaloo dreaming, 24x36, Ampersand Scratchbord


With a background in environmental science, Linda Lunnon has gone on to complete further studies in Natural History Illustration, where she first discovered scratchboard. Linda draws constant inspiration from the natural world, and her artwork is featured in collections in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.


From ordinary to extraordinary, 12x16, watercolour on Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: After finishing a natural resources degree at the University of New England (Australia). How did this help lead to your art career? And how does it come into play now?

Well, it was always a choice between studying environmental science and art after I finished school, and I was swayed by the steadier income opportunities for an environmental scientist versus an artist. This decision allowed me to find employment that would go on to support further studies in my other passion, art. Studying Natural Resources opened my eyes to the natural world, the interconnectedness of ecological systems, and everything that lives within them. It gave me lots of practice in researching and observation (e.g., studying plants, animal pelts, and specimens and relating them back to why they may have evolved that way based on the environment they grow or live in). I apply this kind of thinking to my artworks because I like to know that what I’m creating makes sense. I love creating form on my scratchboard works and love realism, so close observation of the subject and a little bit of research goes a long way in producing a good result.


My best side, 12x14, ink on Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: Art played an important role in your life from a young age. Growing up, your two most treasured possessions were a large tin of Derwent Artist pencils and a huge book on Australian birds. When did you discover the medium of scratchboard?

I first discovered scratchboard when studying Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle - the second degree that my environmental science job helped fund! This amazing and fairly unique degree was the perfect blend of science and art (unfortunately, it has been discontinued). We had the best teaching and technical staff that introduced us to all kinds of mediums and scratchboard quickly became my favourite - so much so that my major project at the end of the degree in 2014 included three scratchboard pieces... here began my obsession for scratching!


Carry me, 8x10, Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: In 2019, you spent four weeks exploring Alaska, more than 7,000 miles from your home in Australia. How did the landscape, wildlife, and people inspire you differently?

Oh Alaska, what is not to love about that place? It’s vast and remote like Australia, but the landscapes are so dramatic, and the wildlife and plants are so different and fascinating. We met some amazing characters along the way, including our beautiful Fairbanks family, and to be honest, that trip is what inspired me to try my first human portraits in scratchboard. I’ve completed about 15 pieces so far in my Alaskan series but still have a list of inspirational ideas as long as my arm to complete. Everywhere we visited was a new artwork in the making, and doing it all with our then 3-year-old was an experience we’ll always treasure.


Afternoon amble, 11x14, Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: Your wildlife and pet portraits have exquisite eyes and such personalities. Do you think your science education background helps bring these animals to life?

Wow - thank you, that’s lovely to hear! To be honest, I don’t know if my science background has much to do with bringing my subjects to life, and I would say that it’s more my personal connection to a subject. Unless it’s for a pet commission, I have a strong preference for using my own reference photos for artworks (or those of my lovely husband, who has a talent for photography). We both love travelling, exploring new places, and taking photos to capture moments. So, when I’m in front of a board, scratching away at a grizzly piece, for example, I do tend to think about where we were, the intense gaze of the bear, and how long we spent just watching them in absolute awe. Somehow, I suppose that must translate into the personalities and emotions I evoke (hopefully!) And regarding pet commissions, I’m a huge animal lover and definite dog person, so I totally get the love that people develop for their beloved animals. To see that connection and the emotion it stirs when I hand over an artwork is the best feeling!  


Nancy, 11x14, Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: Your work features a variety of subjects. From portraits to insects to botanicals. What has been your favorite?

Gosh, that is hard to answer! I generally draw whatever inspires me and being a lover of the natural world in all its forms, there is really not enough time in my lifetime to draw and paint everything I want to. My recent return to human portraits has been a really lovely experience, though, so I would say that my favourite subjects are faces – whether animal or human – where I can capture expression and emotion.


Double drummer II, 5x7, ink on Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: The color you add is subtle but compelling. How do you decide where you want to add color and what you want to leave in black and white?

Usually, in the planning phase, when I’m thinking about what my next subject will be, I also think about whether colouring the piece will add to it or not. For me, it depends on the mood I want to create, the strength of lighting contrasts


Mild distraction, 8x10, ink on Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: How long does one scratchboard usually take to complete? What stage is the most fun?

How long is a piece of string?! It really depends on board size, textures I want to achieve, the complexity of composition, and whether I’m colouring it or not, as to how long a piece will take. My scratchboard “Mild distraction”, for example, a coloured board of a Canadian lynx in fireweed, is only 8x10 inches but easily took over 40 hours to complete. Regarding what stage is the most fun, I think it is about three-quarters of the way into a piece. After I’ve laid down the base values and highlights and then go back into areas to adjust tones and build form – adding strong highlights makes the subject pop and is extremely satisfying!


Grevillea buxifolia, 8x8, Ampersand Scratchbord


Q: What do you love most about Ampersand Scratchbord for your work?

Hands down the best quality scratchboard panels I’ve come across. They are super smooth to etch into, which allows for greater detail (and I’m a details person!). For me, the solid backing panel becomes part of the artwork because I tend to get my pieces framed with the entire panel floating within the frame (instead of covering it with a mat).




Artist Bio:

Linda is an award-winning wildlife and botanical illustrator specialising in scratchboard. In 2018, Linda found the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA) and was accepted as a Signature Scratchboard Artist in 2019.

Her commissions have included scratchboard illustrations for book projects, and in 2020, “Grevillea buxifolia” was acquired by the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria for their State Botanical Collection.

In early 2020, Linda was juried into the Society of Animal Artists based on her scratchboard works, and late last year, Linda successfully applied for Master Scratchboard Artist with ISSA. Recently, Linda’s exploration of subjects in scratchboard has expanded from wildlife and botanical themes to human portraits. “Carry me” was recently juried into the Hunter Emerging Art Prize as a finalist.

Over the last few years, Linda has continued to dedicate most of her creative time to scratchboard, and she’s also started introducing the joy of scratching to adults and children with workshops and demonstrations. She currently lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia, with her husband and daughter and enjoys getting out into their native garden as often as possible. To see more of Linda's work, visit her website, Instagram, and Facebook.


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Comment by Christine Widaman |

Beautiful work. I am a nature lover as well. I need s better explanation of how the scratchboard works!?

Reply by Ampersand

Scratchbord is a rigid Hardbord panel, sealed and then coated with a white clay ground. India ink is then applied on top of the clay coating. You scratch away the ink to expose the white below to make an image. Check out our Resources section of our website for more information, articles, and videos about Scratchbord. Tutorials & tips - Ampersand Art

Comment by Ned Stephenson |

A talented artist across many media, not just scratchboard. Highly recommended. I own two of her works and commissioned a third. Not enough room in the house otherwise there would be more!

Comment by marvin lindenthal |

hi Linda....your work is fabulous....everything looks so real....i particularly like My Best Side, Nancy wow does she look like she was just in front of me and Mild Distraction is great cause i love the wildlife...please tell me the brand ink that you use....thanks, Marvin

Reply by Ampersand

We completely agree, Marvin! Linda primarily uses Ampersand inks, but sometimes Derwent Inkense and Pitt Pens.

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