Scratchboard Art by Cathie Bleck

Artist Cathie Bleck painstakingly scratches away handmade pigments and black ink on clayboard, revealing the white of the kaolin clay beneath.

"When I was a girl I fell in love with darkness. The tools I work with—pen, ink, fine knives, and clay—became natural choices for someone drawn to observe and record the world in close detail, and to best orchestrate the balance between opposing forces. Through the exploration of symbolic narrative imagery, carved into earth’s clay, I speak to relationships that are intrinsic, permeating through human experience. I rely on intense contrasts of tone and imagery to form dualities of interconnectedness, observing the equilibrium all species are challenged to establish in a world of constant change."

"Clayboard is manufactured by Ampersand, whereby kaolin clay is coated in a thin layer over an archival masonite museum board. I apply additional clay pigments to this smooth surface making my works somewhere between 2D and 3D. It is sometimes referred to as scratchboard technique when done on paper."

"Working on kaolin clay provides me with a surface in which I can build upon inks and additional clay prior to scratching them away with razor sharp tools. This relatively new art process has roots that lie in some of mankind’s earliest attempts at creating art."

"The process of scraping the inks off of the clay is my favorite experience in creating the piece. It is a performance that celebrates the articulation of lines. The movement of my wrist and arm are rhythmic in nature not unlike a performance of a drummer or a dancers fluid movement."

"It’s fun to go into the darkness of the scratchboard and make a line in white. I also love the clay medium, and scratchboard is made out of Kaolin clay. Working in clay is a tactile process. Once it dries, it's very hard. You can put all kinds of texture in it. If you touch it, it’s a great sensation and this sensuality translates to what we see in nature. The scratchboard medium is part of the earth and it fits perfectly with my subject matter."

"The first step in my process is making a preliminary drawing in chalk or graphite. I usually transfer this to my board with graphite paper under the sketch, retracing the preliminary drawing with a pen in order to preserve the motion of my unrehearsed linework. This pressure of pen to transfer paper creates an indentation in the board and a graphite image serves as a guide on the clay board. Next I paint with permanent colored inks and handmade pigments prior to scratching."

"My preferred tool for scraping is triangular in shape with a fine razor edge and various razors. Recently, my works are much larger in scale (30”x60”) and I have been getting beautifully crafted custom boards made with a birch trim cradle and back supports for stability. Upon completion of the piece I apply a coat of acrylic UV protective spray using the recommendation of a museum trained art restorer."

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Source: murphydesign1


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