Amy Stauf­fer

Penn­syl­va­nia, USA, A Crown Upon His Head, scratch­board, 11 x 14" (28 x 36 cm)

International Artist - - Art Challenge -

Third Prize is a one-page ed­i­to­rial fea­ture in Amer­i­can Art Col­lec­tor mag­a­zine My In­spi­ra­tion

I have al­ways had a deep and abid­ing love for wildlife and the nat­u­ral world. As an artist, I am pas­sion­ate about por­tray­ing our an­i­mal neigh­bors with beauty and dig­nity; each crea­ture is an in­di­vid­ual with its own story to tell. The kudu is my fa­vorite an­te­lope species; large and pow­er­fully built, the males carry im­pres­sive spi­ral horns which if straight­ened would reach a length of 5 feet or more. De­spite their size, they carry them­selves with a dis­tinct el­e­gance and grace. It is this grace and sense of haughty majesty that I wanted to con­vey in this scratch­board. I felt that a pose with the head raised and the horns cast­ing a dra­matic shadow across the body would be best for this.

My De­sign Strat­egy

From a col­lec­tion of thou­sands of pho­tos from zoos and on sa­fari, I had im­ages of a kudu with his head raised to browse, but the light was flat and his face was par­tially hid­den in branches. Work­ing in pho­toedit­ing soft­ware, I pulled to­gether ma­te­rial from sev­eral other pho­to­graphs to cre­ate my com­po­si­tion, be­ing care­ful to note how the anatomy would be af­fected by the light. The face was the most chal­leng­ing as these an­i­mals have short coats that re­veal the bony struc­tures un­der­neath. Ren­der­ing these ac­cu­rately is im­por­tant. I love black-and­white scratch­board for the chiaroscuro ef­fects that can be achieved and my fo­cus was to cre­ate dra­matic the­atri­cal light­ing, with sev­eral lost and found edges along the length of the horns.

My Work­ing Process

Af­ter com­plet­ing my de­sign in pho­toedit­ing soft­ware, I cre­ate a line draw­ing that I trans­fer to my scratch­board us­ing graphite trans­fer pa­per. I never draw di­rectly on the scratch­board, as the sur­face is del­i­cate and draw­ing mis­takes can­not be erased. I use a No. 11 X-acto blade for the ma­jor­ity of my scratch­boards; for ren­der­ing hair in art­work noth­ing else can cre­ate so fine a line. Al­most any­thing abra­sive can be used to cre­ate tex­tures on scratch­board but I find the X-acto blade is eas­i­est to con­trol. My black-and-white scratch­boards are usu­ally sev­eral lay­ers of scratch­ing fol­lowed by di­luted washes of black to help cre­ate sub­tle mid­tones. The bright­est high­lights are picked out as the last step be­fore var­nish­ing.

Con­tact De­tails

» Email: con­tact@amys­tauf­fer.com

» Web­site: www.amys­tauf­fer.com

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