These two pieces by Harold Farley are great examples of giving a composition a sense of depth and atmosphere. Both of these are wonderful. I’m guessing he is using an airbrush to lay down the foggy backgrounds.
I’ve been wondering why I like some scratchboard images more than others, even if the skill level is high. It must have been subconscious at first when I started becoming uncomfortable with the trend to render a subject and leave it floating on a background of solid black. It’s something I have done with my own work, but as time went by I started wondering why I was doing it.
A possible reason for this trend in scratchboard is that a dramatically-lit subject coming out of the darkness has a “cool” factor that gets comments and kudos – nothing wrong with that. Also, after working so hard rendering the subject, it is nice to consider the work finished and to not worry about the background, especially if you feel you just conquered Everest in the details of the subject alone. Speaking for myself, I think it has to do with risk. When it really comes down to it, there is risk involved in adding background or foreground elements. It takes planning, and it takes time to add that additional level of finish. And yet, in the long run, I see a great deal of value in it. Subconsciously I must have been seeking it out because most of the work I find on the net and talk about in my blog has either a background, or additional elements that fill the composition and make it interesting. I finally became aware of what I was doing in my conscious mind and thought I would write about it.
Not every composition needs a background to be successful, but more and more I appreciate works that use most or all of the space in the composition. I like when a “somewhere” is at least implied, even if the piece is still a vignette.
I like the heavy, bold scratches on this one. Kay Leverton does a good job with the direction of the scratches in the background. They give energy to the composition and keep my eye interested. The texture of the fur is what I like best about this.
I know woodcuts aren’t scratchboard, but the finished product is often very similar. I like how Rosamund Fowler uses the space in her compositions.
I don’t know the history of this conflict, and I don’t know much about Leslie Gilbert Illingworth. He didn’t seem to do a lot of scratchboard work for his political cartoons. What interests me here is the visual journey. The composition keeps my eye moving around it. There isn’t a lot of detail, but the high contrast light reveals the story in silhouette.
I ran across this piece on deviantart.com. The artist’s ID is “ComradeBitter”. Her name is Helen. The dramatic lighting is what caught my attention, and the rough finish kept me looking at it. It would work well as a book illustration.
This piece isn’t new. It’s been sitting around, patiently waiting for me to decide how to finish it. It had a solid back background that seemed to be calling for more personality. I envisioned an American flag backdrop and today was the day to try it. My wife likes it, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
“Booda” is the name on the Flickr account. This piece is seriously cool. It’s a crop of a larger image. I like this cropped version best.
I revisited Brian Gallagher’s blog today and found a few new pieces that I had to post. It seems that most scratchboard artists these days are striving for as much detail as possible. Brian goes against that trend and creates nice work with simple bold strokes. This leaves more to the imagination in my opinion. His style has an energy that really appeals to me.
I think Alderson Magee did these beauties back in the 70s. I especially love the kingfisher. Too bad there is a glare off the frame glass.
Dan Metz doesn’t seem to be doing much scratchboard work these days, but it’s fun to look at some of his past work. I like how he is able to communicate so much with so little detail. I especially like the design of the Midnight Wolves composition.