Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heritage Gallery West - Judy Larson's Scratchboard Art

My First View of Scratchboard Art

My visit to Heritage Gallery West Monday opened my eyes to art techniques I didn't know existed. One of these was scratchboard art. Lisa Vrciuoli guided me through the gallery exhibits, and she was quick to pick up on what I didn't know, supplying the details that would help me fully appreciate what I was seeing. You couldn't ask for a better guide. I'm glad I went into the gallery shortly before closing on a Monday when I could have all her attention. The scratchboard painting to the right is called "Stars and Stripes" and was created by Judy Larson.

Heritage Gallery West - Judy Larson's Scratchboard Art
"Stars and Stripes," a Scratchboard Painting by Judy Larson, photo © B. Radisavljevic

I will not try to  tell you everything about scratchboard art I learned from Lisa. There is a very good explanation of how Judy Larson creates these time-consuming masterpieces on her website. The short version is that Judy begins her work on a clay-coated, Masonite backed art board. She then paints a large silhouette of black India ink on the board. She uses X-Acto® blades to scratch away the ink to create her image. So it is like the opposite of painting where you apply color to create your image. Instead, you scratch away the ink to reveal the image in white underneath. When she is happy, she then uses paint to add some color, still scratching the paint away when necessary. As you might imagine, this takes more time than the average painting would. These paintings can take months to complete. I have tried to show you a closer look at the horse's tail below so you can see some of the detail. Remember, you can click to enlarge it.

Heritage Gallery West - Judy Larson's Scratchboard Art
Part of "Stars and Stripes," a Scratchboard Painting by Judy Larson, photo © B. Radisavljevic

Judy prefers to paint wildlife subjects, especially horses and wolves. You will find more samples of her work on her website, linked to above. You should try to see the painting at Heritage Gallery West while it is still there. No photo of the painting can show you what your eye can see in person. It's hard to believe such detail is possible to obtain by scratching ink.

Learn How to Make Your Own Scratchboard Art

 Starting From Scratch: A plethora of information for creating scratchboard art in black & white and color
After seeing the work of Judy Larson, you might be tempted to try your own hand at scratchboard art. These are some of the how-to books with the highest reviews. I've also included some basic materials for beginners.
If you have an artistic child on your gift list, you might consider the the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Combo Scratch Art Set below. It can be used safely by children as young as five. I think that's just about my speed.

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