scratchboard art cath sheeter  

Fine Arts

Wildlife and Western Artwork
Specializing in Scratchboard Art

line decor
line decor


About Scratchboard Art

Scratchboard art is a form of direct engraving, where the artist uses subtractive techniques to create the image. The working surface is a three layer medium made up of a rigid support (for Ampersand brand scratchbord, which is the brand that Cathy works on, the support is masonite). The support layer is covered with smooth white clay followed by a thin layer of black or dark colored India ink. The artist then uses various abrasive tools to scratch through the dark ink and reveal the white clay below. Every line, dot and dimple is created by hand all with scratching away teh dark. Variation in value are based on how many lines are scratched in a particular area or how much of the white clay that your eye sees. Colored inks can be added to the exposed white areas of the work, if desired, or works can be left black and white. Large and complex pieces can take hundreds of hours to be completed due to the many layers of tiny scratches that cover the board.

Is Scratchboard Archival?
The black ink used to create ampersand scratchboard (the type of board I work on) is carbon based and as a result of the natural properties of carbon, it is very resistant to fading from natural sunlight. Color India inks are also archival. For additional protection, once a piece is completed it is also coated with a UV-resistant spray that adds extra protection to the work and prevents it from being easily damaged. Like all fine art, for maximum longevity, works should not be exposed to many hours of direct sunlight and be kept in climate controlled conditions (normal household conditions are fine). If treated with care, you can feel comfortable that any scratchboard artwork that you purchase created by Cathy is created with top of the line materials and buy with confidence that you will be able to pass on Cathy's artwork to the next generations and it will look as good in the future as it did the day you bought it!

Why have I not heard about Scratchboard Art before?
While scratchboard has been around for many years it has never been highly popular. It is considered by many artists to be one of the most difficult of all mediums, as you can not take an eraser and fix a mistake. It can also be a very time consuming medium, as every line is done by hand and larger works can take hundreds of hours to be completed.

What tools are used for creating scratchboard art?
Scratchboard artists use a wide variety of tools to create different textures in the artwork. The primary tool is usually a standard x-acto knife for line work and can be as varied as using sandpaper, tattoo needles, and fiberglass brushes for various other effects. Most artists spend many hours on their work as all textures are created using only scratches! For a more in depth discussion on the tools I use please check out my article on scratchboard tools.

How do you color scratchboard art?
Scratchboard can be left as a dramatic black and white image but it can also be colored after scratching. Because the white layer is clay based and absorbent it will accept color mediums such as colored transparent inks, fluid acrylics and watercolor. Colors can be applied so that they look anywhere from subtle to vibrant. Cathy uses transparent India inks to add color to her work. Once a layer of color is applied the artist can go back and re-scratch those areas to build up layers, but once color is applied they can never go back to just black and white. Coloring boards typically takes Cathy about 1 1/2 times as long as leaving a board black and white, so you may notice a slightly higher price on colored works.


Watch this video to learn more about how I create my Scratchboard Artworks!

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