Friday, July 13, 2012

Scratch-board Fever

'Moonlight Dance'
Black Scratchboard/paper
8 1/2 inches X 11 inches

Unpacking my art boxes into the new studio space, I came across a package of scratchboard paper (also called scrapperboard, clayboard), donated to me, somewhere from someone at sometime. The shinny black surface called out to me and said, “take a break and come scratch with ME”.  I had a lot of fun with this paper, scratching out a drawing titled, 'Moonlight Dance'.

The only tool I used to create this drawing was a sharp exacto blade using sgrafitto techniques but know with some online research, that there are scratching tools for finer control. Its surface can also take on inks and paints for color enhancement but I just wanted to get the contrasting Black and White effect and try out some cross hatching, scrapping, dotting, and gouging to create texture, form and depth. It is reminiscent of creating prints with linocuts, only it’s less expensive, instant fun, less messy, and can use simple tools.

Close-up view of the sgrafitto techniques.
There is cross hatching, scrapping, and flicking
with the tip of the sharp exacto knife for fine dots.

Scratchboard is not a new method of drawing but goes back to the 19th century printing era, replacing traditional engraving practices, as this was easier and cheaper to reproduce illustrations and very popular for medical text books and product design.

Scratchboard/paper is still used today by various illustrators for comics, magazines and many wildlife artists can get the fine detail with this surface and further paint over top of the etched out areas, getting realistic drawings. Here is a link to the ISSA members gallery to view some master scratchers' works of

Scratchboard/paper starts with a board or paper which is then coated with a thin layer of white china clay, then finished with a coat of black india ink. I notice there are other types of scratchboard that comes in silver and multi-color layers under the black and some even come in white surface with black clay for reverse scratching but something about the black and white is more appealing to me for now. I will experiment on another scratch with using the CIAO inks pens and may even try my soft pastels and rubbing alcohol and see what color effects I can scratch paint.

Till next time, you might find me scratching away and not just my summertime mosquito bites!

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