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Scratch or Scraperboard: "Foundry Wheels" 8x8 inches

, 10:24

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.

Glastonbury: Ink on paper 16x11 inches

, 14:10

Just a complete break for a few days from oil painting, in order to play with something new. I have read several articles on ink and gouache resist techniques but never tried them. They seem to work best with strong shapes and structures, so I dug out a photograph of Glastonbury Tor, famous English landmark, and did a drawing on watercolour paper. The technique then requires the artist to cover over those areas that need to be white in the final picture. The covering is done with thick white gouache paint. Once this is thoroughly dry, the whole picture is painted over with black india ink (waterproof). This must also be left to dry.

When ready, the paper is placed under a cold flow of water and the gouache paint, although covered with ink, will begin to drift off the paper. The ink on top of it will also flow off. Areas that were not painted with gouache will be black ink. However...

The random nature of this process shows that some areas of white will be flecked with black. Also, some thinner patches of gouache will not totally resist the ink and thus may turn quite dark. In my picture, the black patch on the right hand side happened because I did not paint thickly enough with the white gouache.

The overall effect is one reminiscent of a woodcut. The image is stark black and white. It is possible to add colour but the black ink will resist most water-based paints. You might paint over it with thick acrylic, however.

I decided to leave this image alone and not add colour. I may do a second one....it will never come out the same as the first...and try adding colour as an experiment.

A few days ago I carried out another wash for a different subject, which is more complex. It is testing the ability to place black and white areas in the image; sometimes I get it right, sometimes not. The images are far more graphic than "standard" painting; they may help to create new painting ideas for me.

Good fun in between my usual oil paintings.

"Heavy Weather": pastel 12x8 inches

, 20:54

Continuing with some more black and white work in pastel; this piece was derived from recent observations across a local hill;

The paper is Art Spectrum Colorfix. A limited range of pastels was used; some Inscribe greys for the start-off, followed by some Rembrandt neutral-ish colours and Daler-Rowney blue-greys, finishing with some greys and creams from Unison. I'm drying off a small group of oils right now and they'll be ready next week to start scanning/photographing. I've also returned to doing some larger paintings....only a few, for a while....they're rather more experimental and away from realistic views (to some extent). But I'd like to continue with the monochrome theme, so will be looking for new subjects.

"Heavy Weather" will be uploaded to DailypaintWorks toward the end of this week.... UPDATE 24th Feb: I've uploaded it today, here: http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/heavy-weather/450830