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All Things Ampersand

Insights from the World of Scratchbord, Part 4

The fourth part of the series, “Insights from the World of Scratchbord” by Lisa Goesling:

Cape Buffalo, 36″ x 48″, Sally Maxwell

“Sally Maxwell discovered scratchboard in 1967 while creating illustrations for brochures and magazines. At the time, she was exhibiting at a local art show when a judge came up to her and said that he would buy every one of her drawings outright if she could add color to them. Since he was the curator for Marshall Field’s Department Store’s Art Gallery in Chicago, she decided to appease him. Sally figured out a way to add color to her scratchboards and the rest is history. She has had a path that lead her to everything from published limited edition prints to having her designs produced on Collector Plates.

Upon moving to Austin, TX, she learned about a new start-up company, Ampersand Art, and approached them about creating Scratchboard kits, videos/DVD’s, and instructional booklets. Working together with Ampersand, they produced a line of quality colored inks to work in unison with the Scratchbords. Sally mentioned how far scratchboards have come, “…hard surfaces that withstand major removal and multiple additions and subtractions of its surface allowing so much leeway for artists. The addition of ‘cradled’ boards offers a ‘gallery wrapped look’ providing strong support.” Scratchboards used to be limited to smaller sizes because of the risk of the clay cracking from the weight of a larger board. With the introduction of ‘cradled’ boards, artists can work on any size knowing that Ampersand’s cradled system will keep their Scratchbord secure.

Silent Swan, 18″ x 24″, Sally Maxwell

Sally has had gallery representation throughout the years, her longest relationship being with Cantrell Gallery of Little Rock, AR. She is presently represented by Seaside Gallery in Pismo Beach, CA. She is one of those rare artists whose galleries buy her art outright rather than on consignment knowing full well that it will sell.

Sally’s annual average has been in the six figures plus range for the past five years. Her largest Facebook sale to date was for $17,500.  “We, (Sally’s husband and her) do six shows a year. I do a simple demonstration of how it is done, talk about the piece, where we were when the photo was taken, our adventure with the subject and what it means to us. My collectors are drawn by the drama of the medium and the uniqueness, appreciating it even more when they learn how it is done. My pieces are powerful, and the powerful are attracted to them. I think another thing that has contributed to my success is that I do not immediately look at the bottom line or net profit from an exhibit. I look for one new collector per show, someone who will continue to purchase, not a one time buyer. Establishing relationships with collectors and keeping them going through the years is my goal.”
Essence of a Giraffe, 24″ x 60″,
Sally Maxwell

Sally added that she sells from her four-year old studio to preexisting clients who have seen something on the Internet or Facebook. She and her husband are in the process of remodeling their guesthouse so that buyers can visit for the weekend and spend time in her Studio in the Woods.

Scratchboard artists have elevated this medium into the realm of fine art. I encourage you to explore these boards and begin to make your own mark in the world.”

An excerpt of “Insights from the World of Scratchbord” by Lisa Goesling.

For more information on using Scratchbord, check out this post on “The World of Scratchbord” as well as our videos on using Scratchbord on YouTube.


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

Insights from the World of Scratchbord™, Part 3

Lisa Goesling shared an article, Insights from the World of Scratchbord, with us earlier this fall.  Below is another portion of the article.  

Scrub Jay, 12″ x 16″

“I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of other key players in the world of scratchboard, [like] Rick Wheeler, www.rickarts.com.


I am a big fan of Rick’s art. His overlapping contour shapes are a great example of the level of fine art achieved with Scratchboard. Rick’s printmaking background is evident, fooling his admirers into thinking that his landscapes and wildlife scratchboards are woodcuts and engravings.
“Scratchboard is first and foremost a drawing medium. It is every bit as much a drawing tool as a pencil, pen or charcoal” explains Rick. “I like to experiment with combining watercolors, inks and oils into my scratchboards, and Ampersand’s boards are really accepting of that.”  Two of his Scratchbord/Watercolors, Scrub Jay and Gray Hawk, were selected to be part of Artist’s Magazine’s 30thAnnual Art Competition’s December 2013 issue.

Gray Hawk, 16″ x 20″

Rick’s art is in permanent collections at Patagonia, the Grand Canyon Association, the St. George Art Museum, Utah, and Sonoma State University, CA. Some of his past clients are Abercrombie & Kent/Sheri Griffith Expeditions, Arches National Park, U.S. Marine Corps. Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Division, National Geographic Society, the Oregon Zoo, just to name a few. Rick is a published artist and Mentor at Prescott College, Tucson where he teaches drawing, painting and illustration.”



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Scratchbord™ in Highschool Art Classes

Maria Calamia, 2016

“I would first like to begin by extending a sincere and huge ‘Thank You!’ for donating Ampersand Scratchbords for our Art and Design students to use.  Each student was able to create an amazing image because of their creativity and skill, as well as the use of a quality product.”  ~ Rachel Bartlett

Karen Contreras, 2017

Earlier this fall, Scratchbord™ artist and instructor Lisa Goesling demonstrated scratch art to a group of high school students at Palatine High School.  The students had no prior experience in scratchboard art, but as you can see, good instruction and encouragement goes a long way.  

Marisa Engberg, 2017

The students worked from photographs for the main subject and their imaginations for the backgrounds, while a few took the project further and added color as well.  Palatine teacher, Rachel Bartlett shares, “I did prepare the students by having them create practice value scales using cross-hatching, stippling, and other mark-making techniques to create the illusion of value and texture.  The students also created miniature versions of their animals for practice before Lisa Goesling came in to share her process and expertise with them.”  Students worked into their boards with Exacto knives, “transferring” the image by observation.  Ms. Bartlett also instructed the students on Lisa Goesling’s work and artist statement, so students were given a full picture of the artist’s perspective as well as a chance to try the technique themselves.

Sydney Wynter, 2017

These students range in age from fifteen to eighteen, and Ms. Bartlett shared that at least one of her students purchased more Ampersand board on her own because she enjoyed the project so much.

Each piece is listed by the artist and their tentative graduation date.

If you have students working on Ampersand panels, let us know.  We love to hear of your teaching projects and success stories.

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.

Mary Kate Healey, 2017
Meghna Kumar, 2017
Mona Lisker, 2017
Melissa Martinez, 2014
Luz Mateos, 2017
Tess O’Brien, 2016
Yovany Perez, 2017 
Michelle Prochownik, 2017
Jackie Rilloraza, 2017

Caty Ruddle, 2017
Angela Ruiz, 2017
Maria Sardina, 2017
Kierstin Wohlgemuth, 2017

Skylar Russell, 2017

Missa Guss, 2017

Insights from the World of Scratchbord, Part 2

Gold Ring,  20″ x 16″
Part One from artist Lisa Goesling:  Insights from the World of Scratchbord

The man responsible for the beloved Scratchbords is Renaissance man, Charles Ewing. He’s lived all over the world, immersing himself in diversity and allowing it to saturate his art, charlesewing.com. Charles served in the Peace Corps as an artist documenting wildlife in Chile. Someone suggested that he might enjoy scratchboards, so when he returned to the states, he checked them out.
He didn’t like the existing material. “It had limitations in terms of size, and strength, and had to be preserved under glass.” A costly mishap with the mediocre scratchboards of the day, forced him to lose a sale. The glue holding the cardboard scratchboard to the Masonite softened in the sun creating a bubble that couldn’t be flattened. Frustrated, he set out to create a better substrate.
Humility II,  20″ x 16″
His first attempt was a success. Charles applied clay with a binder to a hard board, and added some ink; the medium could get wet but never dissolved, it was perfect!

At the time, he was living in Colorado, a few farms away from Elaine Salazar. She was working towards her MBA at the University of Texas and looking for a good product to feature for a business project. Charles invited her to his workshop to see his new invention and she fell in love with the idea.


She wasn’t the only one. Elaine stood before a board of investors whose sole purpose was to critique each product. After she finished, one of the investors stood up and said, “Ok, I am in!”
Cleaning God’s House,  24″ x 18″
That is how Ampersand Art, and its signature Claybords were born. The white porcelain boards covered in black ink are now called Scratchbords and the plain white porcelain clay boards are still referred to as Claybord™. Charles works with the latter. “The black and white pieces seen on my website were done using India ink on the Claybords. I start drawing with soft graphite easily erasing with fine steel wool as I change the composition. When satisfied, I begin applying ink washes, gradually going darker as the image progresses. At any time in the process, I can scratch or abrade the ink off of the white clay surface, creating sharp or broad highlights.”
Kale Vendor,  20″ x 16″
Charles continues to work with this medium; “A lot of people find my art intriguing because they have never seen anyone work like this before. It has a certain mystique to it.” Charles has sold his Claybords, Oil Paintings and Bronze Sculptures through many galleries, but now also runs his own. He explained that after years of having someone else sell his art, he has learned that it is so much more rewarding to actually know the person who is buying it. “I really enjoy talking with folks who come by my shop and making a connection. That is what art it is all about, making connections, it’s a really nice experience.”

You can see a lot more of Charles’ work on his website, along with his bio and upcoming events: charlesewing.com


Written by Lisa Goesling

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Insights from the World of Scratchbords, Part 1

Cover image for Transatlantic 67 by Colum McCann,
Inside of an Iris

Lisa Goesling has been a featured artist on our blog as well as the recipient of two Ampersand Art awards through Manhattan Arts International.  Lisa shares her experience finding Scratchbord.


“If you are an artist, you understand the feeling of getting totally lost in your art. That happens every time I make a mark.
I discovered Scratchbord in 2006 and it’s become my medium of choice ever since. These hard boards covered in porcelain clay with a layer of black ink, are portable, require only a simple tool, and elicit the most incredible amount of detail.

Magnifying glass in hand, I study my subject, and then jump right in, layering line over line to create dimension. By varying the amount of pressure I put on the tool, I create nature’s contrasts, values and texture all with the humble line. I prefer to work from the real flower, weed or leaf, but I am careful to photograph them in case they perish before I have completed my art.

The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals,
Albrecht Durer, woodcut on laid paper, c. 1497
Unless I am creating a commission, I tend to work on several pieces at one time. That way if the detail becomes too overwhelming in one, I turn to another with a different set of challenges. I have worked on boards as small as 4”x4” all the way to 30”x50”. The smaller boards go everywhere with me, I never know when I am going to be inspired! I haven’t tackled my most recent order yet, a 20”x20” Scratchbord on one side and an Aquabord on the other of a 6’ deep wooden box. 
My art has been compared to various famous artists who were also consumed with creating values and textures through line.


Scratchbord has introduced me to so many fascinating collectors from as far away as New Zealand. Being a juried artist with the Illinois Artisans program led me to a recent invitation to display my art from September 2013 through March 2014 at the Daley Centers’ Cook County Law Library in Chicago. I was awarded an Artists Residency at the Merchandise Mart from 2010-2012 through Tony Karman, (expochicago) and the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. I am a featured artist with Dick Blick and Ampersand Art and have had multiple honors through group and solo exhibitions. My current solo exhibition, Just Scratching the Surface was supposed to end at the end of September 2013 but has been extended. 


Additionally, I offer demonstrations and workshops throughout the area. Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago purchased some of my art a few years ago. They now arrange for me and other artists to display our art and create together with cancer patients and others with chronic diseases. It is interesting to see how hesitant people are initially with the Scratchboards. They worry about making a mistake; I always tell them that anything goes. After a while they are transported through the details and forget about their troubles for a while, just like me.

Some different uses of my artwork include my art appearing on Argentina’s Encendido’s Wine Labels, and the upcoming gift set of New York Times’ bestseller Colum McCann’s book,Transatlantic. 67

Argentina’s Encendido’s Wine Labels

In addition to reviews with the Examiner, Fear No Art and several other publications, host Enid Silverman interviewed me for Cable TV show, Artist to Artist in November 2012.

I count my association with Manhattan Arts International as one of my most rewarding experiences. I applied to “Celebrate the Healing Power of ART” because I love to connect with other people committed to the spiritual side of art. I was honored to learn that I was the winner of three awards, an Award of Excellence, the Jill Connor Critic’s Choice Award and the Ampersand Art Materials Award.

Lisa Goesling’s floral etching on Scratchboard reaches into the dark abyss of space while defining the depth parameters with lyrical petals and foliage seen on iris blossoms. “Inside of an Iris” is a dissection of the various surfaces that piece together this multi-layered flower. By approaching her subjects on different visual levels, as seen here, Goesling commits to gray-scale bringing the viewer into the subtle tones of layers. Blossoms and stems unwind in a circular pattern as if arranged upon a flat surface. Yet Goesling’s use of lyricism in line suggests a series of per formative moments that spin boundlessly.’  Jill Conner, New York Editor of Whitehot Magazine as well as Editor of On-Verge/Alternative Art Criticism, collaboration between the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and CUE Art Foundation. She is a contributor to Afterimage, ArtUS, and Art in America, Interview Magazine, Performance Art Journal and Sculpture Magazine. She has provided editorial assistance to Dorothea Rockburne.”


More Insights from the World of Scratchbords will be featured in upcoming blog posts.
More of Lisa’s work and blog:  lisagoesling.com

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