I’ve just completed this scratchboard of a zebra which is from one of my own photos of a zebra, not in Africa but at Werribee Open Plains Zoo in Victoria, Australia. I’m showing the finished piece first and then some of the work in progress to show that my work goes through many ugly stages before I finish it. It’s a real process of layering with scratchboard and definitely blows out of the water the theory that with scratchboard, you need to get it right first time. Heck, it takes me many many layers before I’ve got it remotely right.

Zebra 06a

So here are the stages starting from simply scrubbing off black ink with the fibreglass brush and steel wool

Zebra 01a

Now I simply add diluted India Ink over the whole piece (with an airbrush but a normal brush is fine too). I’ve gone a little darker in the shadow areas to make it easier later.

Zebra 02a

Now I get out my fibreglass brush again to start working on the light and fur.

Zebra 04a

And finally, having ‘pushed and pulled’ a few times (added and removed ink to get that layering – depth – effect) I add the grass in a very simple and almost impressionistic style. This is achieved by spraying India Ink a little darker in the shadow created by the zebra, and fading it out as we get further up the board, and then using the fibreglass brush to remove the ink, trying to represent grass as I go.

Zebra 06a

A few new pieces of art

I mentioned in my last blog that I went to Frankfurt Zoo on the way from West Africa to Adelaide, Australia, where I live. I was hanging out for some wildlife and although you can’t really call zoo animals ‘wildlife’, it was great to see what can be done with a small space in the middle of a huge city when people who care set their minds to it.

Unfortunately my camera display had been broken by a clumsy x-ray operator in Frankfurt airport going from one section to another, so at the zoo I had to simply click away and hope something was happening, since I couldn’t see the results on the screen (or apply any special settings) so it was a nice surprise when I got home and saw some awesome photos to work from. The following two pieces are a ‘variegated spider monkey’ and a ‘bonobo’ and there will be more to come from this visit. I need to get ready for an exhibition at the Adelaide Zoo with another artist, the amazing Kerryn Hocking, so I’ll be doing as many wildlife pieces as I can before tackling some portraits from Benin with the rich cultural history that can be found there.

Variegated Spider Monkey 2013

Bonobo 2013