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Scratch or Scraperboard: "Foundry Wheels" 8x8 inches

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Here's something quite different. For a very long time I have wished to have a go at producing a scraper-board image (called scratchboard in USA). At first thought, one might feel that there is no link between this and painting, but actually there is.....and it's about tonal values. There's also a link between it and pastel and pencil work. With scratchboard, unless you deliberately add coloured inks or other paint to the white markings, you have an image that has been literally pulled up out of darkness by the use of pure white lines. The denser the lines, or closer together, the whiter the image. More widely-spaced dots or hatched lines create greyer tones, right down to untouched board for the black.

For a first-ever scratchboard picture, this one is probably rather ambitious, but I chose it because industrial themes are so well suited to the scraper/scratch technique. The image is from one of my own photos, taken a few years ago in a small heritage foundry, using a waterwheel to provide hammer-action.

I purchased a pack of EssDee scraperboards, along with three Ampersand scratchboards, to try out the different products. EssDee was cheaper, so a pack of ten suited me fine for my first efforts. I'll tackle an Ampersand when I'm happier with my technique. Since the photo was my own creation, I used it to mark out the main features onto a board, using white pastel as a transfer medium. Having done that, I faced my first problem....working top to bottom or left to right would wipe out the marks!

So I laid a thick sheet of paper over the lower half of the work and rested my hand carefully on top. This seems to work fine and doesn't greatly disturb the pastel lines underneath. I then started the delicate process of scratching, using the point of a scalpel-blade set into a metal handle. My set of inked boards contained a scratch tool and I did try it, but didn't care for it too much, switching soon after to the scalpel-blade.

Over a period of about six hours, the work was finished. My technique still needs working on and at times I lifted too much black ink in areas meant to be mid-grey....but on the whole it went along well. The link with pastel painting relates to all the cross-hatching techniques, laying a set of lines over another (coloured, in the case of pastel).....it's like drawing, but without a pencil, and working from dark to light, rather than light to dark. I will be doing another one soon, when I've sussed out a suitable subject.

Another small painting also completed, to come in a few days.

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