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. Below, I’ve shared an article that Sally wrote explaining her process for coloring Scratchbord.
Scratchbord™ is a smooth clay-coated hardboard panel that is sprayed with a heavy black coat of India Ink. Scratchbord™ was developed as an alternative to scratchboard paper for professional scratchboard artists. Its rigid structure and the quality of ink on the surface allows me to produce super-sized artwork in magnificent full color. Using several grades of steel wool and a fiber brush, I’m able to achieve the smooth value changes in black and white as shown in the exercise below. Try this exercise and see why I’ve chosen Scratchbord™ as my medium of choice for full color scratchboard work.
I do my preliminary drawing directly on the Scratchbord™ with pastel chalks. It can also be done the old fashioned way by drawing a study on paper and chalking the back to transfer the drawing to the scratchboard.
To start, using the fiber brush, I indicate all the edges, shadows, highlight areas, plus I scratch in directional lines, which give the piece its volume.
Following the directional lines, I sculpt the petals using gentle pressure on the fiber brush. I vary the pressure on each stroke, removing more at the top of the stroke and gradually removing less as I’m moving down the stroke. I blend and eliminate the brush stroke look by using the finest grade oil-free steel wool. When the drawing is completed, I clean off the black ink residue with a soft cloth or the clean dry palm of my hand.
I prefer using colored india (waterproof) inks to add color. In this case, I applied a wash of (50% scarlet/50% water) following the directional lines. To eliminate brush strokes, I apply an additional coat of ink with a dry brush. An airbrush can also be used to apply very even color. Some inks will leave residue on the black edges of the subject matter and can be difficult to cut if not wiped off quickly. For the final touch up, I apply black ink around the edges of the subject matter which will cover any left over residue and over-painting.
Once all my color is in, I remove the highlights where the sunlight is hitting the rose petals. This gives them volume and dimension. In this step I also lighten areas which are going to receive washes of shadow color. For example, a light wash of yellow will make one of the petals appear more transparent.
When I finish the removing process, I apply a wash of a shadow color (ultramarine blue+sepia thinned down to 25% ink/75% water) over the lower petal. I used a very pale yellow (10% ink/90% water) to wash over the bottom of the upper petal creating a luminescent glow. Last, I check the piece for any accidental over painting, and any scuffs in the black ink. Then, I clean the piece once more with a soft cloth and spray on 2-3 coats of spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). The fixative seals and protects the artwork and allows me to frame without glass!
All things Ampersand,
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply
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