Scratchboard is a medium that is over 100 years old, but was generally used as a commercial art and illustrating medium. With the addition of color over 30 years ago and the development of a "new" scratchboard that has a rigid subsurface, it has made its way into the Fine Art category. It is now accepted in Museum shows all over the world and is still being experimented with to push the boundaries of realism and fine detail..
The boards consist of three layers of material. The base is wood that has a layer of white kaolin clay baked over it. A layer of black ink is airbrushed over the top. The image is etched one “scratch” at a time using very fine tools such as exacto blades, scalpels, tattoo needles, fiberglass brushes or anything sharp. The black is removed to reveal the white clay beneath. The pressure of each individual scratch determines the whiteness revealed by the removed ink.
These clayboard engravings are considered by many artists to be one of the most difficult mediums to master. A mistake is not easily corrected – the ink is being removed as opposed to most artwork has the medium added to the surface. Each painting typically can have hundreds of hours invested in it.
The boards Marilyn uses are professional grade that are completely archival, of museum quality and resistant to fading from sunlight. Finished works are sprayed with a UV resistant varnish to further protect the image. Marilyn uses watercolor when she feels the painting needs color instead of black and white. The watercolor will only adhere to the clay and then more scratching over the watercolor can add back in the highlights and whites.