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Big Tree, the Big Finale

Yes, that’s right.  At long, long last, my scratchboard tree commission for the nursing home has been finished, framed, and delivered to the nursing home.

What a ride this has been.  I had never previously worked this large before except for a quick crayon sketch of Goliath for a Bible School class a few years ago.  I was so honored that the nursing home staff asked me to do this to hang in their hallway.

After applying the colored inks to the grasses at the base of the tree, and finishing off the tree itself with a few tweaks, this is complete.  I applied a good deal of fixative so it will hold up better over time.  I probably applied 10 or more coats of fixative.  My parents built, painted, and sealed the frame and they did such a great job!

As those of you who have been following along know, this is a very large board at 3×3 feet in size.  The scratchboard, with its wooden cradle (for stability), the frame, the glass, and the backing, all together weigh an impressive 47.8 pounds.  This was a beast to move!

It was received at the nursing home with great enthusiasm and appreciation, which made the entire process all the more exciting to do.  I am so happy they like it.  I know it will have a good home there.

Well finally, I suppose I should show you the scratchboard tree, itself.

The Guardian

– 3×3 feet in size.

– Ampersand Scratchboard

– Tools used were X-Acto Knives, Fiberglass Brushes, various Scratchboard tools, Steel Wool, and Ampersand Colored inks applied with paint brushes.

– I began this tree on February 28th, 2013 and finished the drawing part of the project almost exactly 3 months later.  It took probably around 200 hours to draw, ink and finish this piece.  The planning, building, assembling, and completion of the framing took some more time, so it was officially finished just a few days ago.

It was extremely difficult to photograph, but this is about the best I could do after some photoshopping.  This looks much like the original artwork, though it does lack some detail.  Click to view it larger.

The Tree CR

Close ups.

The Tree Closeup 2 CR

The Tree Closeup CR

To give an idea of the size, I thought I would share this photo of myself with the tree.

Tree With Jen 015Edit

Thank you for looking, for the comments, for your patience, and for following along with this commission piece.  I really appreciate it all. 🙂

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 5, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Big Tree, Now in Color!

At long last, this scratchboard is in color. It was a scary step, but once I started putting color in, it became more comfortable, and now I can’t imagine going back. I am coloring this with Ampersand Inks (pictured below). They are as runny as water, but very full of pigment so I’ve been diluting them in water and mixing them as needed. They are something really different than I’m used to, but very enjoyable to work in. Beneath the tray of ink colors, you can see a little plastic palette, which is what I use to mix the inks in. I then apply the color to the board with a small, soft paint brush.

Big Tree (8) 011

The beauty of these inks is that I can scratch them off as easily as the black of the scratchboard itself. Below is the result of my first washes of color. At this point, I had applied two layers to the leaves, and almost two layers to the bark. The grasses were untouched by color at this point. Please excuse the poor photos. This thing is now laying flat on a table, which really makes it hard to photograph. If I kept it upright while painting it, the colors would run.

I’ve since added several more layers, including darker colors to add more depth to the piece. I really am nearing the finish now, so stay tuned. 🙂 Thank you for looking, and have a great weekend!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Big Tree (Part 6)

Believe it or not, the snow has completely thawed away already and it’s green and warm outside, what a welcome sight! Speaking of greenery and spring, here’s some more progress on the tree. Since my last update, I’ve done a great deal of filling in the leaves and branches so it’s a very solid mass of tree through the center now. The tree, in essence, is ready for color.

TreeCR

AssortedPhotosMayBlizzard, & Tree (Part 7) 088CR

And now, I am finally at a point where I’ve been able to introduce a new texture to the Big Tree. Grass has now come into play. It’s a refreshing change and I’ve really been enjoying it. I’ve used steel wool (pictured below) for a soft, lush base for the grass.

Big Tree (8) 001

I’ve also been using my X-Acto knife and a wire brush tool (pictured below) for the actual grasses and textures.

Big Tree (8) 006

And now, here is the way the grasses are shaping up. I think I will fade the grasses out to the left, right and below the tree so that there won’t be a hard line of grass bordering the whole base of this scratchboard. It is, after all, all about the tree.

Big Tree (8) 009CR

A couple of close ups.

Tree 8 002CR

Tree 8 004CR

I hope you enjoy, and thanks for following along as I work at this. Comments are always appreciated! 🙂 Have a great week.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Big Tree (Part 5)

This project has been around for some time now. Tomorrow marks an anniversary; I will have been working on this for two months. Am I ready for it to be done? Certainly. Am I enjoying it regardless? Absolutely!

There’s not much else to report about this at this time. More leaves, more bark, more tree…and that’s about it. 🙂 Anyway, I do hope you’ll enjoy seeing it. Thanks for looking!

Oak Tree (6)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 27, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Big Tree (Part 4)

More and more hours go into this, and though the changes may not be extremely noticeable, it is developing more with each scratch.  I’m focused on the tree trunk and branches mostly at this time.  More leaves will fill in all the gaps and empty spaces of the tree as I go.  Of course, I also have the foreground to think about too, which should be an interesting change of textures.  The good news is that colors should be coming into the image soon.  I am eager to add color; I think it will add a whole new depth to the piece, not to mention a nice change of pace for me. 🙂

I hope you like this so far.  Thanks for looking!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Oak Tree (Part 3)

I’ve been continuing to work on this scratchboard and it’s coming along leaf by leaf.  For now, I’m focusing mostly on the bushy leafy areas.  The branches will come a bit later.  I’ve also added a couple of new tools to my collection.  A smaller fiberglass brush which looks like this.

677

And a curved X-Acto blade like this, which is great for more stark markings in the leaves.

679

And my workspace has become cluttered and messy, but that’s half the fun of art.  It begs to be messy!

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And finally, here are two updates on this scratchboard.

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Oak TreeWIP (4) 002

A couple of close-ups to show detail.

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676

Thank you for looking!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2013 in All Artwork, Scratchboard

 

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Here We Go! Oak Tree WIP (Part One)

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.

BigOakWIP(part 1) 024Edit

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

 

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