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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.

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.

Scratchbord Glows on Spike TV’s Ink Master


In April, Spike TV’s network producers for their popular show, “Ink Master”, contacted Ampersand about featuring their product Scratchbord™ in a flash challenge episode airing this fall.

Seeing this as an irresistible opportunity and creative challenge, Ampersand agreed to custom-build 10 – 7ft x 7ft Scratchbord panels supported with 2in deep cradle frames specifically for the show.  And, there was another stipulation; the producers said the drawings had to glow under black light.  Not only are these the largest custom-built scratchboards that have ever been created in the history of Ampersand and possibly ever in the history of scratchboard art, but also, this unique collaboration between Ampersand and “Ink Master” produced a highly exclusive scratchboard product that has never before been seen or used.  Scratchboard aficionados/artists Sally Maxwell and Rodman Leisure helped provide expert technical advice in this endeavor.

For the flash challenge, competitors teamed up in pairs to create huge wall-size 7 ft x 7 ft scratchboard drawings.  The drawings were then critiqued and judged under black light, quickly exposing each and every tiny flaw.  The main criteria, gradation technique or the artist’s skill at shading, was used to determine a winner for the challenge.

How well did the artists do?  Did the boards really glow under black light?  Who won the competition?  Well, you will have to see for yourself!

Watch:  Next episode of Spike TV’s “Ink Master”, entitled Holy Ink
Date:  Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10/9c

Watch as top tattoo artists work their magic on Scratchbord in this clip from next week’s episode

Flash Challenge: Gradation
Spike Full Episodes Spike Video Clips Spike on Facebook

About Ink Master
16 of the country’s most skilled tattoo artist compete for $100K and the title of “Ink Master” when Spike’s top rated tattoo competition returns for its second season in this high-stakes elimination competition, hosted by rock legend Dave Navarro and judged by tattoo icons Christ Nunez and Oliver Peck contestants are pushed to their limit.
Andrea Pramuk
Marketing Director
Ampersand Art Supply

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