Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Scratchboard on white Ampersand Claybord
colored with Ampersand inks
From my own reference photo
Done mostly with a #11 scalpel and fiberglass brush

Freckles belongs to my granddaughter and is a Golden Retriever. She's adorable and about 4 months old now. She was about 2 1/2 months for this photo.

This still needs to be sprayed with the varnish to protect the surface and it will look a bit different then.

Bald Eagle: Finished

Bald Eagle, 5x7" on black Ampersand scratchboard. From my own reference photo of an eagle at the Toledo Zoo.

Friday, April 25, 2014

2 Works in Progress: Red Tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle

 Red Tailed Hawk, 5x7" on white Claybord

Bald Eagle, 5x7 on black Ampersand scratchboard

Scratch Bags

 I took a break one day to make some small bags to put scratchboards in. I kept just setting the finished work on a table in my studio and, while it was fun to see it out, it was also putting them at high risk for damage. I need to get some framed but haven't done it yet.
So these bags are made from grey felt and fancied up with quilting cotton I already had on hand. The ones in the top picture are all 5x7 and the ones in the bottom picture are around 10 - 12 inches. I like the grey ones to slide into a larger bag. The ones totally covered in cotton are a little more protection with the extra layer of fabric.
These are just a simple foldover bag - no hardware or buttons. The top piece folds completely over the bag giving one more layer of fabric over the scratchboard if you put it in the way the top photo shows.
I may put a few of these on Etsy. Anyone out there interested?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just Playing Process

 In the original photo the girls were playing with face paint for the first time. I started with the intention of adding it, but once I got into the details of the faces I liked it too much without the paint.
The paint did make it much more difficult to see the shadows and details in some areas of their faces.
For the start of it I just very loosely added Ampersand black ink with a brush, let it dry, then started scratching out details bit by bit. This was after enlarging the photo to full size and tracing it onto the Claybord. I don't try to draw images onto the boards any more. I know how to draw, but would rather spend my time doing the scratching.
In this last one I was reinking to make the cheek shadows darker and being frustrated by the blotchy texture after I had it so smooth. I almost went to buy an airbrush, but decided to give it one more try. Using the scalpel and a VERY light touch I was able to smooth the skin, keep the darks, and not buy the airbrush. I used very soft short lines and stippling.

Just Playing

"Just Playing"
Black ink on white Ampersand Claybord
Scratched primarily with a #11 scalpel blade,
fiberglass brush used on the softer hair areas.
From my own reference photo of 2 of my granddaughters.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eye Am Watching

"Eye Am Watching"
Black Ampersand scratchboard
done with #11 scalpel and a few other tools
colored with watercolors
Reference photos from African Wildlife Reference, used with permission

My goal on this was mainly to practice eyes, with the bonus of different types of fur. I used Photoshop Elements 11 to crop the original photos and make a composition out of this. I started out with all small rectangular images like the zebra once I started the artwork found I didn't like it that way. Most of the images were added to later to blend them together more. I am happy with this one, but if I ever redo it I would use a larger board and move the animals apart a bit more to blend them together better and leave a bit more black (negative) space.

It still has to have it's spray coating, but I'm waiting for warmer weather to spray. My studio is pretty cold right now. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bobcat - Finished

9x12 " 
on white Ampersand Claybord with Ampersand black ink
the reference photo for this is my own

Sunday, April 6, 2014


5x7 on black Ampersand scratchboard
most of the work done with a #11 scalpel
Done from my own reference photo taken out near Cody, Wyoming a couple of years ago.
I may still add color to this but I wanted to get a good scan of the black and white version first.
This was a nice change from doing people. 

Scanning and Processing Black Scratchboard

The mottling in the first and second images is from the matte varnish that is sprayed on.
Adjusting the blacks helps remove most of that and  careful dust removal using the cloning tool can take out the rest.
Getting a good scanned image can take a lot of practice and experimentation. I'm still learning, but this is what I'm doing so far especially in achieving the rich blacks of scratchboard.
When I scan I use an Epson Perfection 600 scanner which will do prints and also negatives and transparencies. I always hit the reset button to take off any scanner adjustments to sharpness, color, or levels and do those myself later using a photo editing program (Photoshop Elements 11 which came with the scanner).

When I open the raw scanned image in Photoshop I first adjust the levels with the original artwork right beside me to compare. I try to get the blacks as dark as I can without losing any of the lighter values in the image. I do the same to the white levels - get them white without losing any of the subtle grey values near them. If it is a black and white image I also strip out the colors using the desaturate feature.

Then I start going over the blacks especially doing dust removal with the cloning tool. It takes a fair amount of time to do this right. I zoom in quite a bit on the image to be sure to get it all. I get a bit obsessive in this stage to get as much as I can. At this stage I could also remove any smudges in the dark areas and also transfer lines that still may be there.

Once I have the image the way I want it I may sharpen it a bit - but not too much or the subtle areas will be lost. I also add a layer and tint it to 5-7% transparency with an olive color to bring back the warmer tones in of the scratchboard.

If I want to print the image I usually have to run a few test prints and make a few more adjustments to get the print matching the artwork - again with the original artwork right beside me.
That is my process at this time. It works pretty well for me so far. I got a lot of tips from the wetcanvas scratchboard  forum, and especially Cathy Sheeter who is one of the moderators for the forum.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Sister, My Friend

"My Sister, My Friend"
8x8" on Ampersand Black Scratchboard
These two little gals are very precious to my husband and I and just as sweet as they look.
And they do get along this well. They really love one another.
May it last a lifetime!