Sunday, December 20, 2009

A bit on Correcting Mistakes (in Scratchboard)

Since I got two e-mails today asking the same thing I thought I would spend a brief bit of time to cover what to do if you make a minor mistake in scratchboard.

Many people believe (and many scratchboard artists like to propagate the myth) that once you put a scratch into the board that you can not do anything to get rid of it.  This is not really true.  Scratchboard is, by nature, white clay covered with black ink.  When doing scratch art we are scratching away the black ink.  So if we make a mistake... what do we do?  Well put the ink back of course

Now this isn't quite as simple as it sounds on the surface, as every type of black ink has a slightly different shade or color cast to it.  Some have a slight blue or brown cast, some look too shiny or too dark, so it is important to find an ink that matches the boards you are working on (try it on a test board before putting it on your art!).  It is also important that it be as archival as our boards and won't change colors over the years.  Since I work on ampersand boards they are kind enough to sell small bottles of black repair ink (which you can get directly from them or in with the color ink kits).  When trying to totally eliminate a line or area you can put the ink on full strength with a paintbrush.  If you want to just tone a line down you can mix the ink with water to create ink washes.  Sometimes the black ink will look a bit too dark and shiny straight out of the bottle, but once the whole board is sprayed with a fixative it blends in.  Also if you blot it with your finger when it is almost dry tends to take off the shine.

On a side note, to be able to remove a line or area so that no one will know that a scratch was ever there you must scratch with light pressure and not have gouged into the clay.  If you are pushing hard and pulling up clay as well as the black ink then you will be able to see a minor impression even after you re-ink the area.  If you are not sure if you are scratching both clay and ink look at what is coming off your board.  If the scrapings are all black, that is ink.  If you see white particulates mixed in there, that is clay.  You can also do the touch test by lightly running your hand over different areas of the board.  You will not really feel any texture in scratched areas if all you are scratching is the ink, but much more of an impression if you have scratched into the clay.

So while a good line drawing and feeling for where you are going with a board is very important, don't be afraid of making minor mistakes.  They can be fixed!  Its not quite as simple as a pencil eraser, but no need to trash that board just because of a few lines that are not as you intended.

Below is a small example of a 'fix' with ink from my large elk piece "The Challenger".  The top image was an area above the back that I was going to origianlly have steam coming off his back.  Well due to a variety of issues and problems with getting the steam to look the way I wanted I changed my mind and decided to go for a more subtle tree background.  You can't tell at all, even on the real board, that the steam was ever there.

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