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All Things Ampersand

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.

Art that Lifts Our Spirits Ampersand Award Winner: Lisa Goesling

Emerumus, 12″ x12″, Scratchbord with Ampersand Ink

Manhattan Arts International is one of several venues that Ampersand supports and sponsors regularly. It is a growing online resource and gallery for artists to gain exposure and business experience.  In the current exhibition,  “Art that Lifts Our Spirits”, Ampersand was honored to choose a winner to receive the Ampersand Award, a blog post and representation on our website.  We chose Lisa Goesling’s work, Emerumus, for it’s beauty, simplicity, and complete conformation to the essence of the show, a work that truly does “Lift Our Spirits”.

Inside of an Iris, Critics Choice Award for
Celebrate the Healing Power of Art
Colored Columbine

Most of Lisa’s work is art that lifts our spirits.  Lisa is a two time cancer survivor who utilized art in her own therapy and healing and now takes her Scratchbord™ into hospitals to help other cancer and chronically ill patients.  She has always been artistic, a graphic designer before becoming a full time artist.  But, it was the Scratchbord work that Lisa came to when her own illness surfaced.  She found the boards were easy to travel with for treatments and the unique medium works extremely well for Lisa’s chosen subjects- flowers and plants.  The black and white contrast of Scratchbord calls for a keen eye in drawing, and sometimes, the subject calls for color.   

This is the second time that Lisa’s soothing, interesting Scratchbord work has caught the eye of Manhattan Arts International.  She entered the “Celebrate the Healing Power of Art” competition earlier this year and won three awards for her piece, Inside of an Iris.  It is evident that Lisa’s work has not only been healing for her, but also brings healing and inspiration to others.

Along with Lisa’s shows and awards this year, she was recently interviewed by Enid Silverman, host on Artist to Artist.  I pulled some footage from the show and posted it on the website a few weeks back, so you could see Lisa demonstrate Scratchbord.  Her skill, encouraging temperament and artistic eye are not going unnoticed.

Lisa’s work is currently hanging in several exhibitions as well as online at her Manhattan Arts Membership page:  www.manhattanarts.com/Gallery/Lisa-Goesling.  You can visit her work in person at her solo exhibition at the Envision Art Gallery in Chicago, extended through November 10th.  Her work is also hanging at the Cook County Law Library at the Chicago Daley Center through March of next year.  If you want to see more of Lisa’s current work, process and keep up with her blog, tune in to her website:  lisagoesling.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: Lisa Goesling

Marigold, 12″ x 12″

“While I have been painting and drawing for over forty years, I began working with Scratchbord by Ampersand in 2006.  That’s when I learned I had cancer.  Choosing something beautiful to become absorbed in and concentrating on the details, proved to be the perfect way to deal with my cancer diagnosis.  The idea that adversity teaches us to turn the negative into a positive is a great analogy for transforming these black boards into thriving works of art.”  ~Lisa Goesling

Composition of a Coleus, 12″ x 12″

Chicago artist, Lisa Goesling has had a full life as an artist and sculptor.  As a young child, when her friends were out selling lemonade, she was selling homemade coloring books.  Lisa began her formal training at the age of 12, taking classes at the Art Institute every weekend and then studying Art and Design in college.  The combination of her studies in sculpture, art history and drawing are fully realized in her work on Scratchbord™, as each detailed subject is pulled out of the flat surface of the Scratchbord, elegantly emanating life.  

Full Orchid, 19″x 21″


Even though Lisa’s life has been full of creating art, she came to Scratchbord fairly recently, in 2006.  Like with many other things in her art, Lisa jumped in with both feet.  “A fellow artist was using the boards at the time.  I went to Dick Blick’s and found a whole display devoted to Scratchbord and picked up a little bit of everything,” she explains.  Since the Scratchbord is non-toxic and portable, she can work anywhere and easily without toting extra supplies or concern for the harmful effects of solvents.  “I have tried other scratchboard methods; Scratchbord™ by Ampersand is far superior to anything else I’ve used.  The rich blacks, the contrast, the ability to add color easily, the crisp lines, are all good reasons to go with the best.”  Lisa finishes her work with a Krylon fixative, either matte or gloss depending on what she is looking for in the final piece.  Currently, she uses a simple black frame with a white mat, covered in glass; however, Lisa is working to find a process to display her pieces without glass.  

Queen Anne’s Lace, 8″ x 8″


Lisa has sound and simple advice for beginners on scratch art:  “Find your own style.”  She explains, “The basis for scratchboard art is the humble line.  What you do with that line is up to you.  I have seen exciting abstract work, realistic animal drawings and beautiful landscapes created on scratchboard.  Having a good foundation in drawing will make the medium easier to navigate, but Scratchboards are a universal art form.  I work with all ages and ability levels with these boards.  The key is to have the courage to dive in and go for it.  Put aside your fears and just make your first mark, without worrying about making a mistake. I do a lot of workshops with cancer patients and others with chronic diseases.  They are dealing with far worse issues than worrying about their art.  There is a sense of freedom from failing, something that I try to impart on anyone creating art.”

Recently, Ampersand proudly sponsored an award for Manhattan Arts International‘s online exhibit  “Celebrate the Healing Power of Art”.  Manhattan Arts International received more than 1,000 image entries from artists around the world for this juried competition. Lisa Goesling’s art was selected among the top 9 winners, to receive an Award of Excellence, a Jill Conner Critic’s Choice Award, and the Ampersand Art award. Renee Phillips, director, who served as one of the jurors states, “Lisa Goesling’s art was selected for its exceptional technical skill, originality, and art that identified with the message and theme of the exhibition – the healing power of art.”

Lisa was recently the featured artist guest on Artist to Artist with Enid Silverman.  You can see the interview below as Lisa shares her work and gives a demonstration on how to work on Scratchbord.

Scratchbord, Pastelbord, Aquabord and the Artist Panel are all on sale

To see more of Lisa’s work and follow her shows and awards, check out her blog:  lisagoesling.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.