My Process

Many people ask what my medium and process are.

My paintings contain a variety of textures that must be portrayed accurately in order to look real rather than stylized. For instance, since skin has a different texture from fur, I use a different method for each.

Much of my work is a combination of scratchboard (with either black background or another color background) plus acrylic painting. Others are pure scratchboard, with or without added color, and some are all paint on clayboard.

Scratchboard is a medium using a prepared surface overlaid with white clay, which is then overlaid with a layer of black ink. To achieve the characteristic fine detail of a typical scratchboard drawing, I use an x-acto blade or other fine scalpel-like blade, and sometimes a stiff fiberglas brush, to scratch through the black surface to the white underneath. This produces a black-and-white image. Some scratchboards are most effective left black-and-white, and tend to look like fine photography (example: “Emu”). Scratchboard is a very time-consuming process. It can take months to do a large one.

I often create scratchboards with graded color backgrounds by adding my own colors to a plain white clayboard. The result is a background that glows (example: “Bug’s-eye View of a Collared Lizard”).

Usually, I add color to my scratchboard subject. This can be done with images on a black or a colored background. I use a thin wash of acrylic paint. It does not show over the black surface, but the white clay absorbs it. The more layers I add, the deeper and richer the color becomes. Therefore the colors can be subtle or bright (example: the subtle fur color and bright flower color in “Contemplation”).

Any areas that need to be portrayed as smoother than fur, or which I wish to be secondary, or which need to be contrasted for some reason, I often paint rather than scratching. Skin and leaves are good examples of textures I think are best represented with painting. Therefore, much of my work is “mixed media”. In order for acrylic paint to show up over a black background, it must be made opaque by mixing with white. Even a drop of white in a dark color will make it opaque so I can paint directly over the black (example: the tree branch on “Iguana”, and the facial skin on “Contemplation”).

Some of my work is not scratchboard, but purely painted acrylic on clayboard. For those, the fine details are done with a very thin brush.

In all cases, detail is important to me. Although every painting must look good from a distance, I like the viewer to see more and more detail as they get closer to my paintings.