The Evolution of Butterfly Lace by Debbie Hughbanks

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Flootie Artist Debbie Hughbanks shares her “Scratchboard Techniques with us! See her Flootie Profile at Debbie Hughbanks Art

Many people seem quite interested to learn about the tools and process used in scratchboard art. It is a fascinating medium and one in which an artist can achieve a variety of effects, running the gamut from the traditional white on black to work one would hardly think was a scratchboard piece at all. Using “claybord” as a surface, adding an assortment of sharp tools specific for the medium (or others discovered in unusual places), throw in some inks, paints and pencils and you are set for an adventure in scratching.
In this post I am going to look specifically at the evolution of one piece, “Butterfly Lace.”

Evolution of a Butterfly 1
Evolution of a Butterfly 1

In the first image you can see I have begun the process of scratching my design onto the surface that has been covered with black ink. (Ampersand sells a clay coated hardboard panel coated with India ink specifically for scratchboard art.) I used a variety of tools to achieve the effects I desired. Some tools were purchased specifically for this and others were bought or found in other places. It is always a good idea to keep your eyes open for that “perfect” sharp or scratchy instrument that will give you the result you have been trying to achieve. On this piece I even used an abandoned eraser specific for erasing on vellum. It used to be a popular item with engineers, but is not used very much anymore. I have “re-purposed” it. Applying different pressure as you scratch also produces diverse results.

Evolution of a Butterfly #2
Evolution of a Butterfly #2

Here I’ve started to add color using water soluble colored pencils. I chose them because the scratched areas of the fern fronds are so narrow and lacy. As I progressed with adding colors I expanded my options to include traditional colored pencils and the Ampersand inks. It is a process of laying in your colors, layering is some areas, scratching out again, repainting, etc. until the desired effect is achieved. Color can be added in to all the scratched areas or you may choose to only highlight a focal point with color. This can be an extremely effective scratchboard technique.
Here is the completed work, “Butterfly Lace” 8”x 8” $625

Evolution of a Butterfly #3  Butterfly Lace
Evolution of a Butterfly #3 Butterfly Lace

The discovery of a beautiful fern along the deeply shadowed forest path sparked the inspiration for this scratchboard piece. “Shivelight” is a word created by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to describe the lances of sunshine that pierce the canopy of a wood. That describes what magic we saw as we walked the woodland path, as glimmers of light fell on parts of the fern and the brilliant green moss below.
To see more of my art please visit . Thank you!

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