|Jake, Amazon Blue Parrot. 2008. Clayboard engraving (scratchboard) and ink. Collection of Richard Affalter, Jr.|
Here's a medium that needs a public relations wizard to do an image make-over! "Scratchboard" sounds like something that was rescued from the waste can! But, in truth, it is a challenging and expressive medium that is only distantly related to the paint-over-crayon "scratchart" of school days.
This would be a more accurate desciption of scratchboard, but it is, admittedly, a mouthful! Some artists use the term "engraved clayboard", which I like better, but am not sure it communicates any better.
Preparing the board (available commercially as "Claybord":
The artist then:
|Maggie, my dear, departed Irish Setter, after the first step of engraving through the black ink to reveal lines of white clay underneath. (Click picture for a larger view) ©2008, Susan Donley. Engraved clayboard, 9x12 inches.||Maggie's final scratchboard portrait after several inkings and re-engravings. The first ink layer was a dark reddish brown. After I engraved to reveal white again, I applied the lighter coppery color. I engraved again to bring up more highlights, which I tinted yet again with a pale peach-color ink. (Click picture for a larger view) ©2008, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 9x12 inches. Artist's Collection. NFS|
It's labor-intensive, but this involved method results in a look not possible by any other media I've used:
Intricate details + High contrast + Vivid color = Dramatic, glowing images!
Why? Detail comes from a smooth, hard surface that retains marks made by the thinnest of wire tools. Contrast comes from white against black, the two highest contrast colors that exist. Color glows because the clay surface underneath reflects light better than any paper or canvas could.
|"Smokey, Spaniel-Beagle Mix," ©2008, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 10x8 inches. Lang Collection. (Click picture for a larger view) SOLD||"Rosie's First Fall,"©2008, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 12x9 inches. Artist's Collection. (Click picture for a larger view). NFS|
|"Ariel, German Shepherd,"©2009, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 12x9 inches. Sovchen Collection. (Click picture for a larger view). SOLD||"Tundra, Labrador Retriever," ©2008, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 14x11 inches. Ewald Collection. (Click picture for a larger view) SOLD|
As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, previously I've advised customers to turn to black and white (graphite) for touchable textures and realistic detail and to watercolor and colored pencil and especially oil pastel for vivid color. Now with scratchboard, we can have it all: Fanstastic, realistic detail with glowing color!
Scratchboard is ideal for depicting the textures of fur and feathers, especially birds' colorful plumage. I couldn't ask for a better medium for my bird paintings! Below are my dentist's Amazon parrot, my Sun Conure, and my cousin's heritage breed rooster and hen.
|"Jake, Amazon Blue Parrot." ©2008, Susan Donley. Clayboard engraving (scratchboard) and ink, 12x9 inches. Collection of Richard Affalter, Jr. (Click picture for a larger view). SOLD||"Sunny, Sun Conure," ©2008, Susan Donley. Ink on Engraved Clayboard (scratchboard), 10x8 inches. (Click picture for a larger view).|
|"Dudt's Salmon Faverolle Rooster," ©2008, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 12x9 inches. (Click picture for a larger view)||"Salmon Faverolle Hen," ©2009, Susan Donley. Ink & Engraved clayboard, 12x9 inches. (Click picture for a larger view)|
Eventually, scratchboard will be my top-of-the-line product, because it is very time-intensive. But for a limited time while I work out the pricing, I'm offering this top-of-the-line product starting at $500 for a 12x9 inch portrait that will likely cost $600 shortly.
If you also like the look of scratchboard and are looking for a special way to remember a special pet, email me for more information on commissioning a scratchboard painting!
Yes -- my Master's degree is in museum studies, so conservation (archival) quality is very important to me. I use 100% cotton, acid-free professional quality boards that won't yellow or become brittle with time. Claybord® by Ampersand is completely acid-free and inert (it won't react with artist mediums).
I choose artist quality color inks, meaning that they are acid-free and contain pigments that are as lightfast as possible. I stick with the most lightfast colors, because nowadays, they've developed replacements for the traditional pigments most likely to fade.
Once a clayboard painting has been coated with UV filtering varnish, it can be framed without glass, like an oil painting. Framing without glass shows off the unique texture of the engraving.
If you have a question about deciding what medium you'd like for your pet's portrait, by all means, ask: Email me, use the chat box to the right or call 412-828-8679.
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