I got myself psyched up to give it a try, though, and spent the last couple of weeks trying out new tools and techniques that could help speed things up. I had to order some custom made scratchboards which, thanks to the good people of Ampersand, arrived on Friday. I loaded up my toolkit and got into Boston early this morning. I picked out this scene of a footbridge with a row of brownstones and the Prudential Building in the background, and got to work on it by 9:40. Only trouble was, it was only 45 degrees, overcast and damp, but it was sure to improve, right?
My motto quickly became, damn the subtleties, full speed ahead! After quickly sketching in the picture in ink I went right after the lightest parts of the scene, the sky, the row of blossoming cherry trees, and the face of the bridge. I did the cherries in two passes, scratching deep in one direction and then turning the board 90 degrees and overlapping it with perpendicular scratches. This is where I was at at the end of an hour and a half. It was still cold and damp, but it wasn’t raining, and it was going to
improve any minute.
I had to get up and run in place for ten minutes at the end of the hour just to get feeling back in my extremities. I didn’t dress for winter today – my mistake. Anyway, I made good progress in the next hour, getting most of the picture elements roughed in. I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with the row of brownstones in the background. The roof line was interesting, so I spent some time on that, but I’m trying to get away with as
little work as possible on the face of the building. There is still hope the day will improve.
I worked on the sky and the roof line, and began to get into the finer details, but the day has turned worse instead of better and I’m
so cold I’m losing my grip on the knife and I’m having trouble concentrating. I have to get up every ten minutes and do jumping jacks just to stay alert. I had brought a full array of inks to color my picture but have decided by now that it will be black and white. I briefly consider packing up and finishing it in the warmth of my car, but decide that would be cowardly.
Time is running out and I’ve gone from cold to numb, but, I think it’s coming out all right and that keeps me going.
Every once in a while the sky would lighten by the tiniest fraction and I would stop my whimpering and look up in hope, but it was in vain as the weather never broke.
Over the last hour I inked in some details and polished it up as best I could, called it a success and packed up and headed home. It wasn’t until I was half way to Phillipston with the car heater turned up high that I finally regained feeling in my fingers and toes.
Anyway, here’s the final product, and if you like it you
can bid on it on May 10 at the CoSo Gallery (details here).