Scratchboard is a medium that is over 100 years old, but has usually been used as a commercial art and illustrating medium. With the addition of color 30+ years ago and the development of a “new” scratchboard that has a rigid subsurface, it has made its way into the Fine Art category. It is now accepted in Museum shows all over the world and enjoys experimentation by many artists in varying techniques. Basically it consists of a rigid surface covered by white Kaolin clay which is sanded smooth and then a layer of black India ink is applied using an airbrush. This surface is cut through using anything from a sharp pin to dental tools or Doctors’ scalpel.
Sally Maxwell has been working with scratchboard for close to 45 years. Shown in galleries throughout the United States, her work is renowned by private and corporate collectors for its ability to capture the beauty and emotion of the wildlife and the natural world. Since childhood, Sally has found inspiration in animals and her own colorful garden; each piece is like a snapshot of the intensity that nature can possess in its quiet moments. Sally’s work tells stories and suggests relationships through subtle details such as the way two creatures lock eyes or snuggle next to each other.
Sally has helped to define scratchboard as a fine art medium; using similar techniques to etching or engraving, scratchboard originally was used for magazine illustration and for products in catalogs. Working with scratchboard allows Sally to layer up rich, deep colors and capture minute details, and her innovation and experimentation with new tools has given her the ability to produce a softer, less linear technique.