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Here We Go! Oak Tree WIP (Part One)

03 Mar

This is, without a doubt, the largest commission I have ever done.  Therefore, dear readers, this will be a long haul, and I intend to post my progress here on my blog as I go.  I may well need the motivation, comments, and watching eyes of others to help me stick to this drawing! 🙂

A local nursing home has hired me to do a large piece of artwork for one of their hallways.  The medium was my own choice, and, for better or for worse, I chose to go with scratchboard.  It is one of the slowest and most detailed art forms out there to my knowledge, but if you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I am a detail freak, so that makes this project much more interesting for me.

The scratchboard, which is 3 x 3 feet in size, needed to be custom ordered.  I ordered it over a month ago as the company requires this time to make custom scratchboards.  Obviously, it has arrived now.  The board also has a cradle – a wooden frame mounted behind – for stability.  The scratchboard with this cradle is 1 inch thick.  It is heavy too – with its layers of cardboard packaging, it weighed in at 32 pounds according to UPS.  The board itself is not so heavy, but even so, it was too heavy and too large for my painting easel, so I had to reinvent a way to hold this scratchboard steady as I work on it.  I ended up using a hospital bed tray we have as a base.  It works great because I can adjust the height as needed.  I used a thin board and a C clamp to keep the board from sliding on the tray’s surface, and am using a curtain rod (this “easel” is in front of my bedroom window) to prop up the top of the scratchboard so it is fairly upright.  Though it took some thinking outside the box, my homemade easel is working out perfectly so far.

BigOakWIP(part 1) 018Edit

The crisp new board ready to be worked on. To give an idea of the size of this, you can see my “practice” scratchboard in the bottom center. This practice board is 8 x 10 inches in size – the size of many of my drawings.

BigOakWIP(part 1) 002

The workings of my homemade easel. You can see the thin board that holds my scratchboard in place, as well as the C clamp anchoring it in place.

Here are the tools I will be using. This is a slightly risky medium because every tool is extremely sharp!  I’ve never cut myself yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time before I accidentally gash, poke or scratch myself with these wicked sharp tools. 🙂  Anyway, here is my arsenal.

BigOakWIP(part 1) 003

BigOakWIP(part 1) 004

BigOakWIP(part 1) 006

This is my trusty X-Acto knife with #11 replaceable blades. This will do much of the work on this WIP.

This is a tool made especially for scratchboard.  That does not, however, make it the best choice for this project.  It leaves very stark marks quickly.  It will certainly have it's place though.

This is a tool made especially for scratchboard. That does not, however, make it the best choice for this project. It leaves very stark marks quickly. It will certainly have it’s place though.

Another scratchboard tool.  This has the abilty to create even broader markings than the previous tool.  It's curved blade makes some interesting marks and should be usedul for foliage.

Another scratchboard tool. This has the ability to create even broader markings than the previous tool. It’s curved blade makes some interesting marks and should be useful for foliage.

This is a fiberglass brush.  It is a very interesting tool to work with.  It is esentially a stick of fiberglass that, when pressed and ground against the scratchboard, makes soft, abstract sorts of textures.  It will be heavily used for leaves as it makes all kinds of great shapes without too much effort.  And yes, it is fiberglass, so it will irritate skin if you touch it too much.

This is a fiberglass brush. It is a very interesting tool to work with. It is essentially a stick of fiberglass that, when pressed and ground against the scratchboard, makes soft, abstract sorts of textures. It will be heavily used for leaves as it makes all kinds of great shapes without too much effort. It makes a horrible scraping sound, but I’ll have to tune that out.  And yes, it is fiberglass, so it will irritate skin if you touch it too much.  This is why you see the broad paintbrush in the first tools image.  That will be used to dust off the surface of the scratchboard as I work.

One of my favorite tools of all.  This super strong brush creates great textures by putting down a very fine row of parallel lines.  This will also be used a lot.

One of my favorite tools of all. This super strong brush creates great textures by putting down a very fine row of parallel lines. This will also be used a lot.

And now, after all my rambling, here is the actual WIP as it looks now.  In case you haven’t noticed, the hardest part of this scratchboard project so far is taking a good photo of it!  Between the size and the hard-to-photograph nature of scratchboards, this is unfortunately difficult to photograph, so please try to bear with me.

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Not much to see yet, is it? It’s just a faint outline, but this part alone has taken 2 – 3 hours so far.

A close up.  You can see a bit of the detail here.

A close up. You can see a bit of the detail here.

Another close up.

Another close up.

So here begins a long journey.  I hope you will join me and follow along as this progresses.  Thank you for looking, and have a great week!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 3, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Here We Go! Oak Tree WIP (Part One)

  1. Cassie Bouska

    March 3, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    And so it begins … woo-hoo!!!! I’m excited for you, and I’m just looking at your post 🙂

     
    • Jenna

      March 3, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      Indeed it does, Cassie. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments! I really appreciate it. 🙂

       
  2. janukke

    March 4, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Oh my, this is even more wonderful than I anticipated! I am hooked. Wow, this is very impressive. The tree you outline looks very old and very beautiful. Do you have a special kind of tree in mind?

    And thank you very much for talking about the tools you are using. I find this fascinating!

    No worries, I am sure you won´t need us for motivation when you have such a promising piece of artwork right in front of you. 😉 That doesn´t mean that we won´t ask you to blog often, though. 😉

     
    • Jenna

      March 4, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Why thank you so much, Jana! I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying this project so far. The tree will be an oak tree, but I am working from a PhotoShopped version of two of my photos. One is of an oak tree, and the other is a cottonwood (my favorite tree is a cottonwood here at home…it’s so amazing!). I merged the top of the oak tree with the trunk of a cottonwood to create a more dramatic tree.

      Oh good! I’m so glad the explanation of the tools is helpful! Thanks for the wonderful comments and encouragement on this big new project. I appreciate it. 🙂

       
  3. Inspired and pretty

    March 8, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Wow ! Jenna, this is a huge project and a huge scratchboard ! You can count on me to follow along and comment and motivate you ! How exciting ! I see from your practice scratchboard that there are colours in it, will this one have colours too ? I didn’t know you could add colours to scratchboards. How do you add colours in them ? How did the local nursing found you? Did you already made commission work for them ? I have a lot of questions, don’t I ? If you don’t have time to respond it’s okay ! You have a lot of work to do 🙂 I liked how you explained all the tools you are going to use, there are many ! I can’t wait to see the progress of this scratchboard, how exciting ! Have a great week-end 🙂

     
    • Jenna

      March 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Hi Jocelyne. Yes, it’s a huge project but fortunately, it’s going pretty well and I’m enjoying it. It feels kind of endless, but most art projects do at some point. Yes, the nursing home wanted some color for this commission, so I bought Ampersand brand inks (Ampersand is the company that makes the scratchboards) and have been playing with them. As I begin to apply them, I’ll go into more detail about how they are used and what they are like. The inks have the consistency of something like milk, and are applied with a paint brush. The colors can be mixed like paints and diluted with water for less pigmentation.

      The nursing home is actually where my mom works, so the staff knows about me that way. A couple of years ago, I also had a collection of my artwork on display in one of the sitting areas. That was a temporary display and those artworks are now back home again, but they seemed to have a somewhat lasting impression. I’ve never done any commission work for this nursing home before, but they are renovating their space and are getting a lot of new artwork for the walls, so they decided to see if I would be interested in doing something for them. I happily jumped at the chance.

      I am so happy you felt free to ask questions, and please don’t hesitate to ask anything. I am happy to answer questions. 🙂 I’m so glad you find the explanation of the tools helpful! Thanks so much for the kind comments, enthusiasm, and interest! I’ll be posting an update very soon. 🙂

       

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