I’m trying to work more color into my scratchboards. Scratchboard is a very effective medium for strictly black and white, but it can also be very striking with the right application of color. I’ve been experimenting with various inks and pencils, trying to develop a technique to produce the kind of look I want. I’m not there yet. This stage is always the most frustrating. Knowing where you want to be and mucking through the work required to learn how to get there. Color on scratchboard is entirely different from color on canvas in oil paint and what I know from working with oil paint isn’t all translating well to scratchboard. The zebra was the most complex to color, getting the balance between warm light and cool shadow right, and the point where the two merged was difficult. The swan was far more difficult to scratch and I used the blade, a dremel bit, sandpaper, and steel wool to get the right effect on the feathers.
A newly finished leopard here, a little behind schedule. Also some new smaller works as requested by my gallery, each only 5X7. The penny with the zebra piece is for scale.
Finally moving to the North American continent for my newest scratchboard, a mountain lion. 14X11
The largest I’ve done yet, at 14X18 and one of the most complicated due to its subject matter. The mane required numerous layers of ink and scratching in order to make it believable as thick fur. My tentative title for this piece is Battle Scars, to draw attention to the scars on his nose from fighting other males for dominance, though I’m not yet sure if I feel comfortable with it seeming a little cliche. I seem to big on a cat kick right now as I have two more lined up following this one. A mountain lion, progress on which I will share shortly, and an ocelot. Not many people are familiar with the ocelot; it tends to be lumped in with leopards, but they have such expressive eyes and I hope I can do one justice.
This one might look fairly simple, but it was a definite challenge working out how best to depict a black animal in scratchboard. The “white” in this image is actually much cooler than my other scratchboards because I used a diluted blue-black ink between layers of scratching to try imparting the shame sheen that you see on these animals. I’m planning to do a larger work of a black leopard; this served as practice working on a black animal with a black medium. I’m quite happy with the subject’s eyes and feel I’m finally developing a technique for those textures that clearly works. I’m pleased with out it turned out and I’m looking forward to starting another of the same subject.
Slowly moving along here. I’m really enjoying working through these projects. Without the looming deadlines I once faced with my gallery, I have the luxury of devoting as much time to a piece as necessary to bring it to a satisfactory finish. Three new pieces every two months at this level of detail was a stressful pace. Hopefully multiple shows are in the future for this piece, starting with the Berks Art Alliance show this summer and The Goggle Works in Reading, PA. Goggle Works Offical Site
My goal is to produce at least ten scratchboards of this quality in time for the 2013 judging of the International Scratchboard Society. I am currently an active member and I’m hoping to achieve at least a signature membership, which is one step down from the best of the best. As a charter member of the society, it’s a distinction that will do well on my resume.
After a considerable leave of absence I am finally back with new work to share. Life has taken on a new dynamic with the birth of my first born son this January. He is a welcome companion with me in the studio, but has thus far proven to be a harsh critic. I hope he does not forever have a habit of crying when he sees something he does not like. 🙂
This first piece is a nearly completed oil painting intended for our living room. I have little of my work hanging in our home, much to my husband’s chagrin, and this is meant to add to the tribal feel in that space. It may be slated for the Berks Art Alliance competition this summer and if accepted I will be having prints made, however the original is destined only for my home. It is my largest oil painting thus far, at 18X36 with the addition of abstract elements adding a new flair. I wanted to introduce a touch of the human culture that surrounds these animals in their home.
This piece is my newest scratchboard in progress and represents a move towards more dramatic lighting for these works, which will remain in black and white. For this and many following pieces, I hope to use this medium’s strength for chiaroscuro to its fullest potential.
This final image is my official moment to brag. 🙂 This is my son, at fourteen weeks of age. Getting to know this little person has been a tremendous joy, especially on the days when he sleeps through the night. I’m blessed to have happy and content baby who already seems insatiably curious about his world, so much so that he has grown to dread his nap time, that however, is another story for another blog.
This work, of an Amur Leopard, was something of an experiment. My goal was to finish this in full blended color, whereas in previous works I had limited the color to certain areas or else applied only one layer of ink. I wanted to achieve a look of depth to this fur with darker underhair receding below lighter guard hair. Before completion, it required four layers of scratching and five of ink. Easily the most I’ve put into any piece thus far. I believe it was success and though I still vastly prefer the stark look of a black and white board, I can see many more similar to this in the future.
The Last Prince – critically endangered
I’ve just started a new series of small scratchboard works which will be more affordable than many of the larger pieces. These images will mostly be of various species of butterflies and possibly some other insects. I’ve completed one so far and am quite pleased with it. So far, I find the challenge of modeling form in scratchboard very enjoyable and it is a nice change of pace from works where I am largely rendering fur.
Information on this work should have been forthcoming some time ago as this piece is nearly halfway to completion. I had in mind a portrait of a tiger that would be very confrontational and predatory, with raking light and strong chiaroscuro. Wildlife art is flush with romantic portrayals of apex predators and I wanted something a little more sinister. This is ambitious for me as I don’t have any images in my reference collection that would fit that description. This composition is largely a conglomerate of at least a half dozen images; none of which featured precisely the type of lighting I was seeking; zoos tend not to be good locations for dramatic lighting. From studying multiple images, I hope to accurately model the bone structure of this animal so the shadows falling across it’s face will be convincing. The side to the viewer’s right should be lost in shadow compared to the lit half on the left.
Again, this is a scratchboard, 14X11. Unfortunately I can’t positively I.D. the subspecies since I’ve sampled from multiple images, but it closely resembles a Bengal. Click on the image for viewing at a higher resolution.