This past spring, we invited artists to share their studios with us in pictures of their work spaces, where our panels lay waiting. Jonathan Webb, scratchboard artist, was chosen from this studio shot to be the featured artist on our blog. Jonathan shares with us his artistic journey and finding Scratchbord™.
Renzo, 5″ x 7″
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in artwork, having sketched and drawn as a wee tyke. As a young teen, I branched out into watercolor and pastels and was encouraged to nurture this “gift,” though I only thought of it as fun. Things changed dramatically when I discovered the Impressionists in my mid-teens. I was mesmerized by light and color, so I graduated to oils. I can’t say I was self-taught because I bought every book I could find with tutorials in technique and color theory. Things started blossoming and after high school, I set up my own little portraiture business while doing landscapes and still life studies on the side.
Then, in 1973, I discovered scratchboard and it was a real game-changer. I was immediately drawn to the addictive ability to produce very detailed work while satisfying the lust for exploring light and dark in ways that pen and ink and other mediums couldn’t touch. Back then, I only had Essdee Professional Series to work with. It was fun, yet poster-board thin, difficult to properly mount and fairly unforgiving of mistakes. After moving to the Colorado high country in 1984, I continued to work with scratchboard, but plein air oils took the forefront again. I was smitten by the beauty of the scenery and couldn’t resist.
Tiber River Dusk, 9″x 12″
As the years progressed, I reluctantly had to put my artwork aside due to the progressive loss of fine motor skills and pressing family matters. I thought the art chapter in my life was over, so I resigned in despair and sold most of my studio equipment.
Then, an odd thing happened. I found Facebook and eventually joined the Scratchboard Artist’s group. I was dazzled by the work I saw there, and, just for grins, posted some of my older scratchboard pieces. I was so stunned by the wonderfully encouraging feedback that I found the “dark side” embers rekindled.
Light Dreams ~ St. Peter’s Basilica, 16″ x 24″
Enter Ampersand! I learned of this fine product through Wet Canvas! and the FB scratchboard artist’s group, so decided to give it a try. To my delight, I found the unique, buttery “tooth” of Ampersand Scratchbord™ actually helped steady my hand significantly. I was hooked and off to the races, resurrecting a long dormant passion. When coupled with Ampersand’s inks, the archival quality of both truly satisfied my love of addictive, tactile black and white work while opening the door for my love of color and light. Nirvana!
To the beginning artist, I would say: Follow your bliss. Practice. Do artwork when you feel like it, do artwork when you don’t feel like it, do artwork until you do feel like it. Just do it! And, as I learned the hard way, never, ever give up! When life’s obstacles throw seemingly insurmountable curve balls your way, look for other doors to open to express your passion. Ampersand was that door for me. Thank you Ampersand!