My first step is to decide on a subject. A few years ago on the 4th of July weekend we adopted two kittens - thus their names 'Independence' and 'Miss Liberty'. I chose a photograph of Indy and Libby that depicts their life style.....
I begin with a photograph or sketch of my subject. I work on Ampersand Black Clayboard and have found this to give the cleanest, smoothest and most easily incised marks of any surface that I have used. There are a lot of tools for scratchboard, but I use x-acto knife blades almost exclusively. A soft white or light colored pencil will work for the initial layout. When the piece is finished, I spray it with several light coats of a fixative.
I begin by lightly sketching their outline with white pencil for placement and composition. Then with the x-acto knife I 'pick' lightly on the surface around the outline. Then I begin to scratch some detail and bring up the highlights and shadows, being careful to leave enough to indicate the dark areas. At the same time I am aware of the direction of the marks to represent the direction of their fur. I can always scratch more as needed but it is difficult to re-ink if too much white is exposed.
Now I work over the entire piece, building up the light areas and balancing them with the shadows and dark places on their fur.
The picture on the right is the finished work. At this point I can leave it black and white, or with pigmented inks add color. For this work I might indicate the reddish-yellow color of Indy's fur.
Click on pictures to enlarge for a clearer image.
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