Russ McMullin – My very first scratchboard

I knew this was hiding under a bunch of other work, and I finally found it – the first scratchboard piece I can remember doing. It was for a class assignment. The specific topic eludes me, but I do remember this was inspired by my feelings for greedy college landlords.


This style was influenced by my art teacher at that time, Robert Neubecker. He was an excellent teacher and a very accomplished illustrator. His drawing style is deceptively simple and primitive, yet he conveys such powerful messages with ink lines and watercolor.

I had seen scratchboard work in books, but nobody I personally knew had ever tried it, except maybe in gradeschool. I proceeded undaunted. The only scratchboard available at the art store was thin, like a postcard. It helped forge my strong opinions about using quality materials in art projects. Working on cheap scratchboard isn’t nearly as fun as using a nice brand like Ampersand or Essdee. The difference is night and day. Use good materials and thank yourself for it later.

The feedback from the class was very positive. From that time forward I did mostly scratchboard work, eventually moving to a style with more contour and crosshatching.