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All Things Ampersand

Panel Painting Tips: Using Inks

Inks are probably the most versatile of all painting mediums when used with Claybord™. Claybord’s smooth absorbent surface eliminates smudging, bleeding, and feathering. The pigments in most inks are only absorbed into the top layer of the Claybord surface allowing them to be easily erased and manipulated. When finished, seal your artwork with spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and frame without glass.

For best results, use an India Ink with a pleasing warm color undertone and a low acrylic content. Higgins water proof drawing ink, Black Magic, and/or Sumi inks are recommended. Or, try our already inked Scratchbord™. To begin, paint, airbrush or wipe on washes applying heavier ink in areas needing more darks. When applied, India or Sumi ink does not dissolve like watercolor. The India Ink will not lift or mix with other media when painting over ink washes or drawings. India inks work especially well on Claybord in mixed media compositions. Try applying oil or acrylic washes over an ink drawing. It is truly amazing how the ink drawing remains intact and is enhanced by the washes of color. 

Oil free steel wool or sand paper can be used to gently remove some of the ink to create soft tonal values. For best results, use a 0000 grade oil free steel wool or 400 grit sand paper. Using steel wool, India Ink and scratch tools, create a wide range of tonal values in your work. Painting and drawing techniques can successfully be combined using this method of adding and subtracting paint. Use our Claybord Tools or Xacto knives to cut into the surface to create fine white lines and sharp contrast where scratchboard effects are needed. Claybord can be coated with inks and used like a traditional scratchboard.

Work by Charles Ewing

In many cases, the same techniques using India Inks on Claybord can be used with colored inks. However, some colored inks contain a high dye content making them difficult to remove using steel wool. Test all colored inks on a small piece of Claybord to determine their staining properties before using them in a composition.

To see a full work in progress by Charles Ewing using ink on Claybord, check out the Unlimited Possibilities for Depth and Detail, where he demonstrates his entire process of creating a portrait with India ink and scratching techniques. 

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

The World of Scratchbord

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 AmpersandStart 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.
  • “The Chess Player”, 14″ x 18″ by Diana Lee

     

  • 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. 
Tools for Scratchbord:
Coloring Scratchbord:
  • 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.
  • “Lemons”, by Diana Lee

     

  • 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.
Educational Resources: