There is something special about the appeal of scratchboard. In skilled hands it can combine some of the visual charm of woodcuts or engravings with the best characteristics of pen and ink.
The work of Douglas Smith is a prime example of the medium’s strengths.
Smith is an illustrator, originally from New York, who established his career in Boston and now lives on the coast of Maine.
His illustrations are often filled with visual drama; but are grounded in the textural characteristics he gives them with his painstakingly executed areas of pattern and linear tone. That anchoring gives them a weight that invites your eye to linger, moving over the drawings more slowly than might ordinarily be the case.
Smith often brings his scratchboard illustrations to a color finish, applying washes of watercolor to a copy of the scratchboard piece. There is a nice description of his illustration process on the site of his artists representative, Richard Solomon, along with an extensive portfolio of his work.
Though the color pieces are presented first, and are indeed wonderful, I recommend continuing back into the “pure” scratchboard, both for a comparison and to enjoy the beautiful linear tones of the black and white work.