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All Things Ampersand

Claybord used as Scratchboard

Claybord™ can be coated with inks and used like a traditional scratchboard. The advantage to using Claybord as a scratchboard is that you can control the tonal variations unlike using a traditional black scratchboard. Claybord is also more forgiving than paper scratchboards. The surface can be scratched and painted many times without compromising the quality of the surface. Try this exercise and see how easy it is to do.

1. Begin by coating the panel with an even layer of India ink. The inks should be shaken and diluted slightly before applying to allow for even coverage. To achieve a very even coat of ink, an air brush should be used. If an airbrush is unavailable use cotton balls, paper towels, a sponge brush, or a large soft bristle brush to apply the ink.

2. Allow the ink to dry. You will see the ink absorbing into the surface. Your board will be dry in a few minutes.

3. Use a soft graphite pencil to sketch the image on top of the coated board. This sketch should be used as a pattern for cutting. It does not have to be very detailed.

4. Use a scratchboard knife like a pen to cut into the surface and remove the ink leaving crisp white lines. Additional scraping tools and steel wool can be used to render detail and create texture. Not much pressure is needed to remove the ink because it remains on the surface of the clay.

5. If necessary, more ink can be applied to an area to cover-up ‘mistakes’ and to allow you to begin again.

6. When finished, the board can be sprayed with a spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and framed without glass!.

Written by Charles Ewing
More work and articles by Charles in upcoming blog posts.

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

Which Panel should I use? A Product Comparison

Acrylics Claybord™
We highly recommend using thin washes of acrylics on Claybord or try Gessobord for a less absorbent panel or Pastelbord for a surface with more texture and a toned ground.
Airbrush Claybord™ Claybord is ideal for airbrush.
Calligraphy Claybord™ Ampersand recommends Claybord.
Casein Claybord™
Claybord and Gessobord are both appropriate for casein.
Egg Tempera Claybord™ Use egg tempera on Claybord.  Compare with panels you are preparing yourself.
Encaustic Encausticbord™ Encausticbord is made for the unique demands of encaustic painting.
Gouache Aquabord™ We recommend Aquabord for gouache.
Graphite & Colored Pencils Claybord™ Use graphite and colored pencils with Claybord.
Inks Claybord™
We recommend Claybord with inks because they can be easily erased and manipulated.
Markers Claybord™ Use Claybord with markers and frame without glass.
Oils & Oil Sticks Claybord™
We recommend Gessobord with oils.  Claybord can also be used, but is very absorbent.
Pastels Pastelbord™ We recommend Pastelbord with all types of pastels.
Scratchboard Scratchbord™ Use Scratchbord as a professional alternative to scratchboard paper.
Watercolors Aquabord™ Use Aquabord, similar to cold press paper for very wet watercolor washes.

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.

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.”

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

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