Scratchbord™ is its own art all together, not that every medium is different, but what makes scratch art so unique is that it begins as a subtractive art. Ampersand Scratchbord™ has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines. It is similar to drawing, but in reverse. Just like other Ampersand boards, Scratchbord™ can be colored, too. Below I’ve listed some resources and tips for working with Scratchbord™.
This slideshow is from the “A Scratch in Time” exhibition in 2010 in Alamosa, CA. All work was done on Ampersand Scratchbord.
Working with Scratchbord™:
- Getting started in Scratchbord with tips from Ampersand: Start by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord™ surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth.
- Repair a mistake: Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas.
- Sealing Scratchbord: Seal Scratchbord™ with an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. Then, you can frame your finished Scratchbord™ art without glass.
“The Chess Player”, 14″ x 18″ by Diana Lee
Tools for Scratchbord:
- Ampersand has a variety of tools and inks available for purchase: www.ampersandart.com/accesories.html
- Inks: To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord™ Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. This will give the forms in your drawing volume and dimension. Add more color where needed and repeat this process until you are totally satisfied with the results.
- Scratchbord colored flower exercise from Sally Maxwell: Texas artist, Sally Maxwell, is known for her exquisite scratchboard drawings. Her enthusiasm for the medium led her to develop techniques for using color with scratchboard over twenty years ago. For more information about the artist, please visit www.sallymaxwellsart.com.
- Using acrylic: Scratchbord, similar to Claybord except finished with a topcoat of India Ink, can also accept both watercolor and acrylic. For a demonstration in coloring scratchbord with acrylic, check out Rock Newcomb’s article: Acrylics on Claybord.
“Lemons”, by Diana Lee
- Books, DVDs and Kits from Ampersand
- Scratchbord Gift sets from Ampersand
- International Society of Scratchboard Artists website or their Facebook Page
- WetCanvas! Forum for Scratchboard Artists
- Facebook Group for Scratchboard Artists
- Diana Lee’s Book from Amazon: “Starting from Scratch: A plethora of information for creating scratchboard art in black & white and color“: Contains exercises, demonstrations and details on everything you need to know about starting scratch art.
- Norman Gaddini’s book: “Mastering the Art of Scratchboard“: An excellent and accomplished technician, he explains what scratchboard is, how a black-and-white picture is created in scratchboard, the equipment and tools required, how to apply full color, how to mat and frame your finished scratchboard picture.