Brittanny Johnson, Made by Bee Jay Art
Virginia Beach, VA
I have always had a strong love of animals, nature, and anything artistic. My artwork throughout the years has always represented the beauty found in the world around us. Almost 10 years ago I decided to create a scratchboard pet portrait as a wedding gift for a friend. Little did I know this would set in motion a change in direction for my art career. My growing number of commissions afterwards caused me to change course from being a painter to being a professional scratchboard artist. I went from painting large abstract expressionist paintings to creating detailed portraits of people’s beloved pets. Capturing each animals individual spirit has become a passion of mine. I love exploring the art of scratchboard, learning new techniques, and experimenting with new tools to create the most detailed and lifelike portraits that I can. I still believe each portrait I do is in some way better than the last.
I use a variety of tools ranging from the common X-Acto knife to various different microblading tattoo needles, fiberglass brushes, and single tattoo needles. Each of the tools serves a different purpose from soft textures of fabric to lifelike fur. I use forms of stippling, hatching, and crosshatching with these different tools to create photo realistic portraits of predominantly plants and animals. I first create what I consider to be a base layer then I come back in with my single tattoo needle or a scalpel blade to add in the details and fine lines, like whiskers, and additional fur. Most of my work is black and white, but I do create colored portraits as well using inks. After the initial black and white Portrait is complete I apply washes of colored inks to the white clay that has been revealed through scratching. To achieve the vibrant color you see in my finished work takes many layers of ink. I must scratch the entire portrait again between each layer. This is a very time-consuming process as colored portraits usually need six layers of inking and scratching before being complete. I varnish all of my work with UV archival spray and not only does this provide a layer of protection for each piece, but on the color portraits it really brings out their vibrancy.
After many years of experimentation and honing my craft, I was awarded status as a Signature Scratchboard Artist with the International Society of Scratchboard Artists. To be accepted for SSA with ISSA, an artist must achieve an average score of at least 96 out of 120 points (80%) with a minimum of two of the three jurors scoring you over 80% and you are judged on :
1. Technical skills (line quality, smooth, value, transitions, use of lost and found edges)
2. Artistic skills (use of values composition, originality accuracy, integrity across all elements and cohesive portfolio) and,
3. Consistency of quality
I am currently working on becoming a Master Scratchboard Artist, by teaching the medium to others, and expanding the awareness of the art of scratchboard as so many people do not know much about it. I’m always trying to challenge myself through new more complex compositions and rendering a variety of textures from fur to grass, scales, carpet, and liquid to the best that I can.