top of page
  • Joan

I Still Stink at Scratchboard

In college art class, we were given multiple assignments using scratchboard. Back then, when printing in color was so expensive, black & white scratchboard was a good illustration method for reproducing crisp lines. The canvas is a white substance (usually clay) covered with a thin black coating. Artists use various sharp tools to scratch away the black surface and reveal the white underneath. When done right, the results can be breathtaking. I have always admired the clean lines and scenes that emerge from the dark. But my attempts in college always looked messy and not cohesive.

I have a wonderful ex-boss, David Funk (founder of marketing firms Funk & Associates – when I worked for him – and currently bell+funk), who is amazing with pen and ink. His illustrated journals are a treasure, and his sharp, illustrated humor in those journals kept us laughing during staff meetings. I have not seen his scratchboard art, but I imagine it is also quite good. A few weeks ago, he reached out and suggested that I try scratchboard and said that he had some extra supplies he could send my way. Years have passed since college, and I’m now more artistically practiced and patient, so I thought this was a great idea.

Last Monday, my Art Play Day partner, Melissa, and I met to take on scratchboard. I decided to work from a reference photo I had taken above Wallowa Lake at BC Falls. I imagined sparkling water emerging from the dark rocks (see example above). After preparing my sketch that I then transferred onto the scratchboard, I was truly excited to start.

I made attempts at two different sizes, even coming back in with black ink to help when my scratching got away from me. Nothing was coming together. I could not hold on to the dark areas even though I had also done a value sketch (not shown). I was growing frustrated, but I think I spent more time laughing ... while Melissa happily worked on her stylized and lovely rising phoenix.

All joking aside, I realize that starting out with a simpler design and with more practice, I could improve. However, during this artistic journey, just as important to me as finding what excites me is to find what doesn't; then contently moving on.


Dec 10, 2021

To try something new, one just doesn’t know if he or she is a natural at it or not. I heard somewhere if you do something, anything, for 20 years, you’ll be good at it. Just think if I’d stayed with my piano lessons for 20 years, just maybe then I’d been good at it. :) I started late in life and cut that short my lessons by 18 years :) But we need to try it, right? Especially if our heart tells us so. You’re experiences with new art mediums are amazing, even if you feel the results are not your vision . (I did not mean to have all this underlined, a glitched :). )

Debbie Lind


Nov 18, 2021

I had no idea how hard something like this would be to execute. I love the behind the scenes commentary and the ongoing art pieces. I love how you are trying and re-trying new things - and laughing and enjoying the process. These are awesome! Keep it up! xoxo Kelly


bottom of page