View Full Version : Scratchboard WIP: The Sacred One

11-05-2005, 03:25 PM
Hi all, When I post here, I also post a link over in Pastel's forum. Some friends there have requested a WIP so I treated this 8x10 commission piece as a WIP. Unfortunately, I got so engrossed in the creation that I forgot the camera and missed a couple of pics that would have been nice, but these 9 do show what we do and may also be useful for new scratchers. The customer loves it and is making faithful payments. It's for a Christmas present for her Mom.
Critiques as well as comments are welcome.

Scratch Board is a hardboard sprayed with a white kaolin clay which is oversprayed with black sumi ink. This is scratched through with tools to create the image. Some think in terms of working with negative shapes. I think more in terms of putting light onto the subject.

These are some of the many possible tools used. I favor an exacto knife for the most part, using other tools for special effects.
This is a sampler of some of the marks made with some of the tools plus a minature painting in which the image is painted with inks, or acrylics, colored pencil or pastel, even oils. I used inks here.. Once painted the highlights are re-etched.
This is the reference chosen by my client for a head study only
The etching begins. Using an exacto knife I begin lightly etching in the hair following the direction of the underlying structure of the animal and the direction of the hair bundles. I am etching where the light strikes. The closer the lines the brighter the appearance and conversely the more sparse the lines the darker it is.Just as in other etchings and in pen and ink, various cross hatchings may be used to create the effects. I tend,however to use lines similar to what is used in graphite works. Also some shading can be achieved when the piece is done by overcoating with a dilute solution of black India Ink. With animals and people I prefer to get in the eyes and nose right away. If these aren't right I will have to toss the piece and start over with a fresh board. I also try to get in the brightest areas initially, just to set the range of values.
More of the foundation strokes are in delineating the structure of the Bison's head and the hair with its highlights. These will be gone over with more layers of lines which give the depth of the hair texture and highlights will be recut several times as the piece proceeds.
The finished piece. This took about 16 to 20 hours
The Sacred One is matted in tan sueded mat board and framed in a wood frame with gold metal trim. I could have colored him in places. I favor colored pencils and pastels so I can control the shading and get something that reminds me of a hand tinted photograph. The Customer wanted this to be left black and white, as the Bison looks like a sacred albino.
I hope this has been informational.

Comments please, of course, but critiques also appreciated.

11-05-2005, 03:37 PM
Excellent and very informative TJ. Thank you so much for showing the steps and equipment. I esp. like seeing the practice marks. As a non- scratcher, it is hard for me to imagine how you get from A to Z. Are you making your own boards? The finished piece is beautiful and very dimensional. You do exquisite work. ( The Katrina piece is still my favorite. So much emtion.)

Thanks again!


11-05-2005, 03:45 PM
Very interesting. Thanks for explaining. I always wondered what scratch art was. It reminds me of my nursery school days. We had to colour a piece of paper with different coloured waxy crayons. After that we used to put a black covering on and then we could start drawing. Similar idea.
I like your bison and your client should be very pleased with it.

11-08-2005, 12:00 AM
TJ, Great job on this!! It really pops with the suede matting!! Very nice!
The only critique I have, is I would have made the fur bushier rather than strands. Of course it would have added a substantial amount of time and if the customer is happy...I guess enough time spent!!! :)


11-08-2005, 02:24 AM
TJ, your Bison is lovely, and thankyou so much for making it a WIP. It is an art form that really fascinates me. Great work. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Val. :wave:

11-08-2005, 06:29 AM
I'm so glad you left this black and white. It looks so striking.
Thanks so much for the WIP ... it is so interesting to see the different steps and the tools.
I love the way you matted and framed it too ... wonderful work of art :clap: :clap:

Mary Woodul
11-08-2005, 06:44 AM
TJ, this is a great demo. I had no idea what a scratboard looked like. Your work is so elegantly executed and the outcome always superb. Thank you for sharing this with us.

11-08-2005, 11:11 AM
I could have sworn I had replied here before to all your kind comments, ah must be the cybergremlins. Li, The Katrina piece remains my favorite too and I wish I had put it in the recent show instead of the Indian Dancers. I'm about to start the next in that series. No I don't make my boards, though some people do. I buy Ampersand Clayboard Black.
Marina, these techniques actually go back to prehistoric man who scratched and pecked through the fire smoke blackening on cave walls and through the weathered varnish on rocks.
Bob, thaks for taking a looksee and commenting. I agree that a bushier look would have been interesting stylistically, but the client chose this look from other of my work. I really admire your fortitude in spending scores of hours on a piece, Maybe as I proceed (this is only my 8th piece) I'll be willing to put in that kind of effort on occasion.
Val, this art form has certainly caught my fascination and apparently intrigues the buying public as well; anyway I'm as hooked on this as I am on pastels.
Chris, thankyou. I agree that the B/W is better for this piece than color. I colored a printout of the piece and it lost power whereas the stag had gained with color.
Mary, I like "elegant" thankyou!
Another time I'll post the two leopards I've completed. The next animal piece will be a ram. But I'll also begin on the next in the hurricane series. They aren't going away and the financial need will be with us for a long long time.

11-10-2005, 06:00 AM
wow, the techniques are so similiar to woodburning....

11-11-2005, 01:06 AM
Oh, indeed GW the two art forms are very similar. I think we need a sub forum that includes the etching media such as pyrography, clayboard, etching, wood cuts, maybe stippling and cross hatched pen and ink.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.