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All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Ginger Gehres

North Carolina artist, Ginger Gehres, was one of our three artists back in the spring that won our “Share your Studio” contest.  With such a strong affection for Ampersand panels and a wide range of experience in art, it was an easy choice to support her work here on our blog.

Ginger’s life long affair with art is truly life-long.  “I never knew I wasn’t an artist. One of my Grandmothers was a fine artist, the other was an excellent sewer, my Dad built homes and my Mom could paint, but preferred artisanal craft work and she was a professional dancer at one time. Creativity was the norm in our home,” she explains.  It isn’t that Ginger hasn’t taken the time to hone her talent with the study from professionals, but she did get a jump start on her learning with an internationally recognized artist grandmother, Twyla Rose.  
Ampersand panels came into Ginger’s life relatively recently when she found them at a local Jerry’s Artarama.  She liked working on the hard surface with acrylics, and appreciated their durability.  “In November of 2011, Susie Willis, a friend and fellow artist, ask me to come with her to Art of the Carolinas sponsored by Jerry’s.  I’d never been and was overjoyed when I saw the Ampersand booth,” she explains.  Along with other art material manufacturers, Ampersand was there selling panels and demonstrating how to work on them.  “I was stocking up on boards when I saw a striking flower on a black background as a display piece. I had no clue it would change my whole perspective on art. I was told that it was “scratchboard” and Dana, one of Ampersand’s very fine folks, explained how it was done.  I tried out the giraffe in Sally Maxwell’s book, got hooked and never turned back!”

Ginger primarily works in Scratchbord and Claybord with acrylic, always doing more than one project at a time.  Her studio is laid out so that she can work on tables or an easel, with a dog or two nearby.  Her subject matter is simply a matter of what comes to her, what subjects draw her in emotionally.  Her new challenges are working on textures in the Scratchbord, fur, skin, scales, metal or rust.  “I found a toad in a nursery a few years ago and my husband discovered me on the ground, taking it’s picture.  Thankfully, he’s not easily embarrassed and I was able to do a scratchboard piece that had warts,” says Ginger.

Ginger just finished the June show in Vancouver for The International Society of Scratchbord Artists where she had three pieces juried in, and she is the current exhibition director where she’ll be heavily involved in the annual juried show in 2014 in Cary, NC.  You can find Ginger online, she is part of the Scratchbord Group on Facebook, has her own page and website where you can see more of her work, graphic design and illustration. 

Our fall sales event is starting soon, 20-50% off on Claybord, Gessobord, Hardbord, Encausticbord and The Artist Panel at select dealers.

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.

Featured Artist: Lorna Wagner Hannett

Great Egret, 2013 for the ISSA show

“I have always had a fascination for the beauty of nature and its many moods and elements. Living in a rural setting, I am surrounded and inspired every day, in all seasons. I also love to study people, adults and children alike, and try to capture each individual’s expressive nature in the portraits I do. I feel privileged to be able to express my love of nature and people through my art work and hope in some small measure that it will bring a certain amount of pleasure to those who view it.” ~Lorna Hannett

Mr. Forbes, 8″x10″

Canadian artist Lorna Hannett has always had an interest and natural talent for drawing, but it was around age 50 when she took her art seriously.  Self taught painter in acrylics and watercolors, Lorna discovered scratch art through WetCanvas! in 2003 and came upon Ampersand Scratchboard™ at the same time.  Lorna shares, “I bought a small board and tool and tried it out. It was love at first board. It immediately appealed to my love of light and detail. I did several boards, mostly wildlife and then entered the North Light Books Cover Competition with my first scratch portrait called “Joseph” and to my great amazement, I won first place. That was in March 2004 and I knew I had found my niche. I now also work on Claybord, and lately I have been doing some of the Ampersand Claybord boxes, which I also enjoy.”

Besides Lorna’s extensive portfolio, which you can see in the Scratchbord Facebook Group or on her personal website, Lorna also teaches workshops and is the president of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists.  

String of Pearls, 8″ x 10″

She does most of her own photography for her work as well, so Lorna’s inspiration and eye for design is just as stunning as her work.  Her courage and passion for working in scratch art is evident in her pieces, but is also a strong principle taught to her students.  “I often teach workshops and the first thing I tell the students is not to be afraid of making that first scratch. . . keep that first board as a test piece and try out everything on it,” she explains.  She also encourages students to find subject matter that is meaningful to them, use a light hand and build up in layers to the lightest value.  Not to mention, “always use the best support and that, of course, is Ampersand.  Above all else have fun with it!”

The International Society of Scratchboard Artists was a special project for Lorna, as she and four other scratch artists came together to start the society for bringing awareness to the medium.  The second annual juried exhibition will open in a few weeks with more details on the website about membership, workshops and events.  You can also see more of Lorna’s work in person at the show; the International Society of Scratchboard Artists Annual Exhibition will be opening on June 4th at the Federation of Canadian Artists on Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.  For more updates on Lorna’s exhibitions and more galleries of her artwork, you can visit her website: lornahannett.com

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.

Featured Artist: Cathy Sheeter

Just a Glance, 11″ x 14″

I met Colorado wildlife artist, Cathy Sheeter several years ago on WetCanvas!  In one of the largest online art forums, Cathy stood out as a positive presence, working to pull together scratchboard artists and develop the medium as a recognized art all its own.  Since the art world is so small, I wasn’t surprised to see Cathy again as an active presence in the Scratchboard Group on Facebook.  Her work is not only stunning and original, but she is a constant guide and tutor, encouraging newbies to take on scratch work.

A Sensitive Nature, 11″ x 14″
Preening Macaw, 8″ x 10″

Cathy began learning scratchboard in 9th grade on student grade materials.  It was the linear expression and graphic look of the medium that drew her in.  Scratchboard art can be very dramatic, like graphite, which is another favorite medium of Cathy’s.  Since Cathy was already interested in drawing animals and their stories, scratch art made sense as it allows for tight details and dramatic lighting.  

It was in 2004 that she discovered Scratchbord as a surface for her scratch art,  and she never looked back.  Having a better surface renewed her interest in the medium and also gave her more incentive for educating the public on scratch work.  She explains, “Although it is a lot of work educating the public, the amazement and wonder when they realize how scratchboard is done and then utter disbelief that it is all done with lines is so much fun.”  

Besides Cathy’s extensive show schedule, she has found time to help establish the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, a society with annual juried exhibitions created primarily on Ampersand Scratchbord.   Cathy was a founding member and also one of the first juried into Master Members of the society.  Cathy also spends time online educating artists about Scratchbord.  To find her online, you can view her artwork on her website, her writing on her blog and her helpful tips as Crias on the WetCanvas! Scratchbord Forum.  

You can also view Cathy’s work in person at several shows opening this year.  April 27, her work is showing in Loveland, CO at the Colorado Governor’s Invitational Art Show running through May.  She will also be showing in Tucson, AZ in May at the Settlers West Gallery Invitational Show.  For more details, look at Cathy’s events link on her website.

Right now, Scratchbord is on SALE!!!  Along with Pastelbord and Aquabord and canvas texture Artist Panel, these boards can be found up to 60% off at local retailers.

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:

Scratchbord Demos with Linda Sheets

Linda’s Scratchbord Kit


Scratchbord™ is a clay coated hardboard panel for scratchboard that is coated with India ink. Comparable to traditional paper scratchboard, except better – it’s more durable and easier to scratch into for cleaner and crisper details and lines. For added dimension, colored inks can be added to the white areas and then scratched again for additional highlights and volume. Artwork can be sprayed with spray fixative, allowing the finished scratchboard to be framed without glass!

Arkansas artist Linda Sheets fell in love with Scratchbord™ 10 years ago after picking up a couple of samples in an art supply store. Since then, she hasn’t stopped scratching! Linda is known for her folk art inspired Monkeys, Dogs, Birds and Still Life studies. Her work is shown in several galleries in Texas, Missouri and Arkansas and is in many private collections. Sharing techniques and showing everyone how satisfying and easy this medium can be is a source of constant delight for her.

“Blue Eyes Circus”


Linda Sheets is well known not only for her scratchboard drawings but students nationwide flock to her workshops because of her wonderful ability to inspire and teach.  Linda has been creating art in one form or another for most of her life.  Her innovative approach to scratchboard has set Linda in a class all her own.  She is also the creator of several scratchboard kits marketed by Ampersand Art Supply.   

Come join Artist Linda Sheets for a fun-filled, hands-on mini-workshop and demo at the stores listed below.  Learn how to render incredible detail and exquisite line drawings using scratchboard.  You’ll learn how to add brilliant color to your drawings and experience how easy it is to create with this wonderful medium.  Sponsored by Ampersand Art Supply, all materials will be provided including their awesome Scratchbord surface, the professional choice for scratchboard art.

Details to come on the Following:  Watch us on Twitter @Ampersand_Art for details:
Each demo will consist of brief description of the board and scratchboard history, tips and suggested techniques. Samples, patterns for transfer and tools will be provided for hands on experience. In addition, there will be an opportunity to explore adding color using various inks and paints. Most will leave with a finished or partially finished piece of their own unique Scratchbord art!