About Scratch Board Art

Scratchboard is a relatively contemporary art medium that is derived from older art styles like etchings or even engravings. It is becoming a popular medium among artists and collectors alike. In contrast to most art mediums, scratchboard art requires drawing lights rather than darks. Scratchboard art involves scratching the black surface and revealing the white beneath. Initially I struggled to find an effective method as I discovered the difference between etching and normal pencil drawing. I developed a style known as cross hatching which involves a combination of spaced and overlapping lines to make lights and darks. Because of the limited range between black and white, the images are strongly two-toned but the potential of scratchboard is limitless. Strokes of a fine point like a needle can create fine details like fur or hair, while rubbing steel wool can create something as indefinite as a cloud or fog.

Scratchboard is recognized as a very unforgiving medium since every scratch is permanent and cannot be erased like a pencil or charcoal drawing. There are some methods that can effectively cover up mistakes such as using a black ink to paint over the blunder, but I pride myself in incorporating any inaccuracies rather than using inks.

I personally love the possibilities of scratchboard in creating the fine details in the wrinkles on a face or the folds of a cloth giving the subject character and likeness. The black and white contrast gives the image a vintage feel like a picture in a history book. Whether it is stark angles and shapes of a cathedral, or the soft curves and shadows on a child’s face, scratchboard is a medium that allows artists to explore and express themselves in innovative ways.

-Erik W Linton