Scratch Art 1

Well, you remember the class I took earlier this year at the Woodmere Museum (look at this previous post for an explanation and a way to dig into the other work I did in this class) – where we focused on abstract/realism and how they relate to each other, or merge into each other.

In one of the class discussions someone mentioned “scratch art”, and I remembered having done some images on scratchboard a few years ago. Scratchboard is a masonite backing coated with white clay and covered with India ink (for details: Look here). You use various tools to scrape the ink off to reveal the white underneath.

I knew I had a few unused boards somewhere around. Suddenly I felt I had to work with them, and I decided to use them for that week’s homework assignment, which was to use an artist’s work from the German Expressionist movement to inspire your own. There are lots of black and white images done by printing methods that I have noticed from our class presentations, and I figured I’d use the scratchboard as my material and these images as my insipiration.

I chose some photos to work with and found some 6″ x 6″ boards. I’ll show you the results over a few posts. See what you think. I had a lot of fun with it and I ordered more boards so that I could do more work in this medium.

Here’s the first one. It’s a familiar scene to me and you may remember drawings I have done of this building – the Getty Cottage at the Norristown Farm Park. Here’s a snow scene.

And here is the image. I’m happy with this piece. I think I captured the feeling of the scene and I have a good balance of black and white tones here.

20 thoughts on “Scratch Art 1

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    Wow, Claudia! This is impressive. You have achieved such a wide range of tones just using pure black and white and your variety of marks. I love the energy in those marks too. It’s suggestive of a tumultuous environment in which the tree remains strong and the house endures.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. Scratch art is not technically hard to do, just a few tools and the black coated board, but…there is a lot of intrigue and challenge in getting things to work out! I have just started to learn this (I was going to say, scratch the surface, but I stopped myself, thank goodness…)

  3. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I think this is the best one I had done in the series I did back in the spring. It is hard to get your mind around how to get the results, and getting the black/white balance is the most challenging when…ooops…you makea mark and there is no going back. Still, I really like doing these. They are restful, if you can believe it. Like solving a puzzle kind of.

  4. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I think this image is the best of the ones I had made this spring. Getting the balance of the two colors is much harder in this subtractive medium than drawing (where you can just keep adding and you can see where you need more and so on). I love the look of scratch art, though. So dramatic.

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. The nature of scratch art means you have to figure out how marks can turn into an image in a different way than pen, I really like it. I think this image turned out well, others I will show you, not so much, but, mistakes teach. And when it works out nicely, I do love the look of the scratch art so much. Very dramatic and strong.

  6. marissthequilter

    You definitely have captured the eerie feel to that derelict cottage in the snow. I am in awe — can’t imagine quite how you get such an evocative image by scratching away the upper surface!

  7. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. The scratchboard really gives such a look to almost anything you do with it, I have been finding. It is taking me some work to figure out how to manage it, and some attempts are more successful than others, but in every case I am struck anew by the drama of even the most ordinary image. I love the medium, I will do more with it, I think.

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