Zoo Competition

Last semester, PAFA and the Philadelphia Zoo held a school wide competition. The challenge was to create a 2D work of art highlighting an endangered species. The competitors were given a list of endangered animals, a month long pass to the Philadelphia zoo, and the opportunity to create.

I, of course, chose the African Lion (I have a fascination with lion imagery).
I decided to draw on scratchboard, which is a medium that I had never worked in before. To prepare, I did tons of online research, checked out a lot of library books, and bought many practice scratchboards.

I went to the zoo a few times to sketch and take photographs. After observing the lions, I had to decide what aspect about them I wanted to capture. Did I want to portray the strong, aggressive, predatory lion? Or did I want to show the wise, noble lion?

Of course, there is a high sense of drama and excitement when a lion is in action. However, I decided to show the lion at rest in the jungle with the light shimmering through the foliage.

After determining the basic layout of my drawing, I created a quick sketch.

Next, I made a refined drawing and a tonal study

Then it was time to get scratching. I transfered my drawing onto the scratchboard using transparent paper and white pastel.

My Scratching Supplies:

Ampersand Scratchboard 16X20
Ampersand Black Ink (for Re-inking)
Ampersand Scratchboard Tool Set: Steel Wool, Fine Point and Curved line tool, Stainless Steel wire brush, a Parallel Line tool
Xacto Knife

I started with the lion’s eyes, hoping to capture within them a spark of life and intelligence. In order to create visual interest I paid special attention to the different textures in the drawing.

Controlling the organization of the lights and darks was tricky. Due to the nature of the scratchboard, it is hard to hide mistakes. Some of my values did not separate as much as they should have, so there are some areas of visual confusion.

Even though I did not win the competition, it was an incredibly valuable experience. I was forced to go through the entire process of art making, from conception to final product. In the end, I was proud of what I had accomplished and had learned an entirely new medium.