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All Things Ampersand

Fluid Art with Claybord Art Tiles and Marabu Alcohol Inks

Fluid Art with Claybord Art Tiles and Marabu Alcohol Inks

Glossy, transparent surfaces that reflect “submerged” colors and designs are quite pleasing to the eye. There are numerous ways to achieve this effect, like using expensive resins or layers of glass, for instance. In this step-by-step guide by Celia Buchanan, you’ll find a fun and easy alternative to explore with Marabu Alcohol Inks and acrylic pouring medium on Ampersand’s NEW Claybord Art Tiles!

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Graphic Media: Pen and Ink on Claybord™

Many illustrators and graphic artists prefer Claybord™ over paper because of its smooth forgiving surface. Use with Rapidograph and technical pens, calligraphy pens, and markers without fear of mistakes. Claybord‘s smooth surface can be erased and sanded to its original surface if you need to correct or change an area. This will save you valuable time and money on all your design projects.

Technical Pens
Claybord is an ideal surface for fine pen drawings using technical pens. The smooth absorbent surface will faithfully reproduce the desired line width without any feathering or bleeding. Inks are quickly absorbed and dry almost immediately. This reduces smudging, allowing you to work rapidly over the entire surface. If smudging does occur or if you wish to rework an area of the composition, a fine steel wool or an electric eraser and eraser shield can be used to remove the ink. You can also replace the eraser stick in your electric eraser with a tight wad of fine steel wool. This works great!

Begin by preparing the surface of Claybord. The clay surface makes an excellent ground for most inks but does create some dust which may clog very fine technical pens. Clean your pen point frequently when using Claybord. The following tips can be used to reduce the incidence of clogging:

1. Begin by dusting off the board with a fine brush to remove any existing surface dust.

2. Take a damp rag and wipe down the surface. Allow the board to dry completely before working on it.

3. Some smaller nibs have a sharp pen point. This point cuts into the Claybord surface and can create the clogging dust. Use a fine (600 grit) sandpaper to round off the edges of the pen point.
Can It Happen?  Ink on Claybord by Nancy Wolitzer


Calligraphy
You can use with both dip and pre-filled calligraphy pens. Claybord’s absorbent surface reduces feathering and smudging resulting in crisp clean lines and enhanced control. Scratchboard tools can be used to cut in detail and enhance or clean up letters. Steel wool or other abrasives can be used to remove inks and rework areas. Because inks lie on top of the Claybord surface, they can be easily removed with an eraser or abrasive. If you pre-sketch your letters before inking, use a hard lead pencil and leave faint lines. For a mixed media approach, add color and detail to your calligraphy using other types of paint knowing that Claybord will accept any media. When finished, seal your work with spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) so it can be framed without glass.

Markers
Claybord can be used with all types of markers. Its smooth, absorbent surface makes for excellent line control without smudging or feathering. Sand paper or oil free steel wool can be used to vary the tonal values or to erase unwanted lines. Knives can also be used to create white highlights.


Markers are produced by a wide variety of manufacturers for many different purposes. Choose a style of pen that will accomplish the effects you need. Most markers work well and can easily be removed from the Claybord surface. Please be aware that the pigments in some markers can penetrate the Claybord surface making complete erasure difficult. Test any marker, for erasability, on a small piece of Claybord before using.


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.

Scratchbord Demo with 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.  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,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply

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