Scratchboard Illustrations

These scratchboard illustrations are part of a collaborative project between my husband and I. He wrote a collection of short stories and asked me to create an illustration for each one during the first two years following our marriage.

Golondrina (Fork-tailed Swallow)

He submits his stories individually to various publications but unless he publishes the stories as a collection himself the likelihood of the illustrations being used alongside the corresponding story is slim. Two of the stories have been published in literary magazines, but each sans illustration.


So this is just part of the fun for me of now having a blog. Whether or not they ever eventually get published… I can publish them here!

Cat's Eye

Of course the pictures would make a lot more sense in context, but I hope you enjoy them even without the corresponding plot lines.


Scratchboard is clayboard with an even layer of india ink over the surface. You simply scratch through the top layer to reveal the white clay below. It’s fun to work in reverse, drawing the parts that are white and leaving the black areas untouched.

If you’d like to give it a try the following link will take you to (I belong to the Amazon Affiliates program so if you click on it and buy any products on Amazon, I get a small percentage of the sale. )

Up in the Jacaranda Tree

I learned when penciling in the basic forms before scratching that any erasing leaves behind a smudgy mark on the black that doesn’t really go away. Maybe if I repainted some india ink over the smudge mark? But I didn’t want to risk the ink running into any of the fine crevices that I had scratched away. Any ideas?

Sit Very Still

I can tell you about the inspiration for the story for this illustrat0ion because it is my story. (It is the inspiration, my husband’s story is not about me. When I was a little girl probably about 8 or 9 years old, I was in the woods behind my house playing alone. There was a stream that we liked to try to dam up to create swimming holes and that is what I was working on. Moving the largest rocks you can under the midday sun quickly gets to be hot and tiring work. At one point I took off my shirt to be able to feel the breeze and sat down on a log. Just then a swarm of bees that were traveling en mass looking for a new hive (we asked around later why there would have been such a large number of bees flying together like that) settled all over me. You’ve seen pictures of bee handlers that wear a living bee beard? That was me, but the beard was everywhere! Not only is this terrifying, I am also insanely ticklish. I was covered with literally hundreds of bees, crawling in and out of nostrils, armpits, over my lips and closed eyes, up and down my rib cage. I don’t know how long it lasted but it felt like an eternity! I sat as still as possible and concentrated on my breath because although my heart was pounding wildly I was afraid to breath too heavily. I thought I was being punished because little girls shouldn’t take off their shirts out of doors! Later my uncle explained to me that if I had been wearing my t-shirt most likely some bee would have gotten caught under it and in stinging me would have begun a chain reaction of attack. Thankfully, God has created us with the instinctual reactions of fight, flight or FREEZE, and the appropriate one kicked in for me that day!

Sea Sponge

Thanks for reading!


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  1. ReStitch Me said,

    April 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Beautiful pictures, Karen! And what a terrifying story with the bees!

  2. April 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Karen, you are a very talented artist! I loved your illistrations.

  3. Pam said,

    April 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Amazingly detailed illustrations!!!

  4. Karima said,

    April 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Wow – they are really lovely – very artistic!

  5. Kelley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Your pictures are beautiful Karen! I love the cats eye! I remember doing this in high school.. its fun. And holy cow.. bees all over you?! SO SCARY!

    • April 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks, Kelley. I remember in elementary school we would paint with watercolor all over a paper and after it dried cover the whole thing with a thick layer of black crayon. Then we would scratch through that. Pretty messy, but it was fun!

  6. Ann said,

    April 3, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Your illustrations are beautiful and emote such deep feeling. Thanks for sharing then and your story.

  7. Kristin said,

    April 3, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Super splendid artworks Karen, you are amazingly talented!!!

  8. April 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Those are stunning!!! I so wish I had artistic abilities. Wow!!

    • April 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks, Rachel! You’ve got a lot of creativity of your own. I’m still impressed by Ali’s birthday party. And your recent paint chip project.

  9. Elise said,

    April 4, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Lovely illustrations! I have never heard of scratchboard before. It sounds fun!

    • April 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks, Elise! It is a lot of fun. If you enjoy drawing you should definitely try tinkering with it sometime.

  10. Maysem said,

    April 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Wow Karen.. Your work is amazing! You are so talented!! I’ve always wished I had drawing skills. I also love the way you tell your stories… I was able to imagine your bee story as if I was there. That must have been terrifying! I think I would have thought to run, scream, or cry..LOL!

    • April 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      The bee thing was scary at the time and even scarier looking back realizing that I could have actually died had I tried to run or anything. I remember looking at the stream thinking about going underwater. I’m glad it was only ankle deep or I may have given it a try with horrible results. I’m really glad you enjoyed the pictures and the story!

  11. Virginia said,

    April 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Your illustrations are beautiful! Thanks to your blog, lots of people WILL see them!

  12. six sisters said,

    April 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Amazing pictures!! You have an amazing talent! We loved having you join our “Strut Your Stuff Saturday.” Hope to see you next week! -The Sisters

  13. Sherry said,

    April 12, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Your very talented! I love to draw but, right now there is no time with all the kids. Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  14. Kelley said,

    April 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Hey Karen – Im featuring these tomorrow 🙂 Make sure to check it out and grab a button!

  15. Natasha said,

    April 14, 2012 at 3:02 am

    wow!!! these are fantastic!!!!

    Thanks for linking up to Serenity Saturday link party. hope to see you there today!

    Natasha xxx

  16. Riba said,

    April 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Oh, these are marvelous! I did scratchboard years ago in school, and I loved it. You are inspiring me to try it again one day.

    And what a sweet collaboration to do with your husband. 🙂

    I stopped by to thank you for “liking” my recent post, “Grackles Bring Me Home.” It always gives me a lift. Thank you!

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