Carving the Light - How to De-focus the Negative

I've come to a crossroads in my creative spurt -  there's a skunk to be drawn on scratchboard.  I have a colored pencil project to finish first, and the ink on canvas will have to wait.  Scratchboard requires me to turn my head completely around.

Here's the stuff.  A fine coat of clay is applied to thin cardboard, and then India ink is layered on top of that. The artist uses a stylus  to scrape away the ink and reveal the clay underneath, which is usually white.  I had a tiny artistic tantrum after I accidentally bought a sheaf of rainbow-coloured scratchboard, but I own my mistake.  I did it to myself by not reading carefully. I can use the rainbow to practice without wasting the good black and white board; it's been a while since I worked in this medium.

When I took photographs at The Academy of Advanced Imagery I focused on light and shadows, the interplay between them.  I'm very figure/ground oriented - I see both concurrently, always, seeking balance with other sensory input. I could say the process of balancing is the subject of everything I do. Revealing the interplay remains my artistic end goal. I have to let go of the dark a little with this scratchboard business.

Instead of building shadows, I will be uncovering light. It's reverse-sculpting, in a way, almost counterintuitive. And the medium is very unforgiving.  But the beauty of that description - uncovering the light - is not at all lost on me while I carry out the process.
forget your perfect offering 
there is a crack, a crack, in everything 
that's how the light gets in.  
-leonard cohen 
I've not yet formed this into a catchy metaphor you can apply to everyday life, but I don't doubt there is one. Build the light, and let the shadows settle for themselves. How's that?

Over the past couple of days, my brain has been offering other designs suitable for scratchboard format. I literally dreamed one of them three times before I woke up and attempted to replicate the vision with a Ball jar captured by cell-phone in the dark - my brain is adamant that this has to happen, so it will. The Ball jar currently houses sunflowers that are meant for another acrylic paint project. I'll try to keep you posted.

Further Listening:

Leonard Cohen - Anthem
There are a lot of versions of the quote about light getting in, but this one is verified, and it's Leonard Cohen. Carry on.
Kintsugi - The Art of Precious Scars
Learn about this fascinating Japanese ceramic tradition. I once wrote a haiku equating tattoos with Kintsukuroi, but I'll be damned if I can find or replicate it. I've tried the process and mended a mug handle, but the former husband broke it again.

What I ordered

What I'd wanted.


  1. Rainbow works wonderfully with the moth at the top, not so much with the bird.

  2. IMO the rainbow works with nothing! but im glad for the practice.


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