‘Ready for Work’ by Judith Edwards-White from Domestic Animals: Horses. ‘This board was created in memory of my late dad, who had one of these magnificent animals on the property where he grew up. I also feel that this is one of my most prized artworks; one which I treasure.’ Reference photo is credited to Cathy Sheeter. (Scratchboard Art) © Artwork courtesy of Judith Edwards-White.

Artist Watch

The Artist

Judith Edwards-White


Animals are my favourite subject of all, not only domestic animals such as cats and dogs, but also horses and wildlife. I love to see their personality develop as the work progresses.’

‘Working full-time and looking after my two young sons put a stop to any interest I had in painting.’


Years later when I was between jobs, and at my younger son’s suggestion, I did do some painting until I started working as Secretary to the State Manager of a large company dealing with shopping centre management.

‘After I retired I became very interested in creating decorative designs. I painted handbags and aprons. I painted on large Christmas balls, wooden Christmas ornaments, small/large boxes, blanket boxes, shopping bags, chairs and anything I could lay my hands on. Although I don’t do that kind of work anymore, I would do it again if I wanted to give someone something special as a present.

‘At the same I was into decorative painting I found Jan McCraw, who is one of my favourite artists. Her designs appealed to me so much I have painted over eighty of them. Jan is known as “Ladybug” to most people and runs Ladybug Creations in the United States.

‘Jan created beautiful whimsical designs which I loved from the first time I saw one that she had posted to an Australian painting list of which I was a member. Her patterns gave step-by-step instructions on how to paint a particular design and they were perfect for the designs I was interested in at that time.

‘Jan has taught art at the University of Virginia, Holden School of Art and she has been a wonderful mentor to me. She gave me the push I needed to do something with my artwork.

‘When I was doing lots of paintings I had my own workspace and I guess it was pretty messy because I could leave everything where it was. After removing the table and adding a bookcase to hold the numerous books on art/decorative painting and scratchboard that I managed to acquire, I now do my scratch art at the kitchen table. Scratchboard art is very portable and you only need the board and the tools required to create the desired effects for your work.

‘My first scratchboard commission was from a fellow that I had known since childhood and who had lived next door to us when we were growing up. I felt quite excited that people wanted my work.

‘Animals are my favourite subject of all, not only domestic animals such as cats and dogs, but also horses and wildlife. I love to see their personality develop as the work progresses. There are times when I don’t want to do just a portrait of an animal’s face and like to portray them showing an interest in something, such as the cat in “Fascination” becoming mesmerised by water flowing from a tap.

‘I have scratched quite a few boards of the big cats, most importantly the snow leopard cub “Yukichi”. I once started with a horse on a board, but before I got too far I realised that I couldn’t see enough detail in the photograph to continue and I needed something to cover the work I had already done. Fortunately my initial scratches were quite light and the face of the snow leopard in “Animal Magnetism” worked extremely well. This board won 1st place in the animal category and Champion of the Show at the 26th Annual Laidley Regional Art Awards.

‘I love the dramatic lighting effect which can be achieved with scratchboard showing the strong contrast between light and dark. This is what attracted me to the reference photograph “A Drover and His Dog”, which was commended at the Mt Gravatt Show Society Exhibition in July 2012, and won the People’s Choice Award at the same show.

‘In March 2009 my work appeared at the Dean Johnson Gallery Indianapolis USA “Scratching the Surface”, which was the first known international show of scratchboard art. Artists’ work from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Germany were featured.

‘I don’t have my work on show permanently anywhere at the moment but I have been booked by the Logan Art Gallery to have a display in December 2014. The most common remarks you hear from people at shows like this is “I thought it was a black and white photograph.” “How is it done?” “What is it scratched on?”’

How does Judy go about planning an artwork? She takes us through the process of creating Scratchboard art from the very beginning.

‘I always work from photographs whether it is for painting or scratchboard and whether it is from my own photograph or that of one I see on the internet. I browse websites such as FlickR or through the free photographs on Wet Canvas Images to look for a particular subject that I might be interested in doing.

‘If I’m not working from my own photograph and I have found a particular shot I would like to use from the internet, my first priority is to write to the photographer and ask for his/her permission to use the photograph as a reference for my work. It’s customary to always acknowledge the photographer when putting your work on the net, or to state that the work has been done from your own photograph.

‘As I mentioned before, I use Ampersand Claybord for my work. I send to the USA for my boards and these are already prepared for immediate use. Once I have removed the cellophane packaging from the board, I transfer my drawing to the board with white graphite transfer paper, tracing the outline straight from a copy of the photograph and adding in lines to show the fur direction. When all that is completed, I start scratching. The board is totally dry when I begin work on it.

‘The boards are available in quite a range of different sizes. I have never scratched a really large board; probably the largest would be about 16” x 20” and the smallest 5” x 7”. I mainly use 8” x 10”, 9” x 12”, 11” x 14” and the largest so far, 12” x 16”.  I do have a few larger boards but as yet I haven’t used them.

‘I use a craft knife for most of my work, using the very tip of the blade to create the thousands of lines or dots. It’s always best to use sharp blades and to commence with light scratches. By doing this, if you make a mistake it’s easier to repair/correct with “Black Repair” ink. This is also made by Ampersand as well as coloured inks to use specifically on scratchboard. Once the initial light scratches are in place, I go back and re-scratch with more pressure to create the highlights.

‘Other sharp instruments can also be used to create the effect you want – I have used a nail buffer to create ground and rocks and fine steel wool can be used to create clouds. Another favourite tool that I use on a regular basis is a fibreglass brush, which is great for creating the fluffy fur on an animal, and I also use it to create the impression of water. When I work on portraits I use tattoo needles to create the look of skin.

‘Usually I know before I start that I want to add something to the work which isn’t in the original photograph. For instance, in “Nature Study” I have added a butterfly and in the scratchboard “Moonlight Dreams”, which shows a pack of sleeping wolf cubs, I added a moon because I thought it would create more interest.

‘After the artwork is finished I use three coats of spray varnish to seal it. The board can then be framed with or without glass – it’s really a personal choice. I like to frame my work under glass to protect it. There are others who don’t frame their work under glass and give the piece numerous coats of varnish to protect it instead. 

‘Scratchboard works aren’t any heavier than other artworks, although I guess the weight would depend on the size of the board used and the type of framing. If a board has been framed under glass it just needs the usual dusting, but any work not under glass should never be sprayed with anything to clean it.

More Judy...P.3



‘I’m down here’ by Judith Edwards-White from Domestic Animals: Dogs. ‘It’s hard to get noticed when you’re this small but it’s good for a dog to have a really big best friend.’ Reference image is credited to Daisyree Bakker at FlickR. (Scratchboard Art) © Artwork courtesy of Judith Edwards-White.