We were excited to speak to Rachel Meehan, scraperboard artist, to discuss how she got into scraperboard, what inspires her work and her style of scraperboard artistry.
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Rachel Meehan, I trained originally as a Fine Art printmaker completing my postgraduate studies at Glasgow School of Art many years ago. I am now based in the Scottish Borders about a mile from England.
Describe your style of scraperboard artistry
I work on black scraperboard as I find that reverse process is similar to a lot of printmaking techniques which often involve cutting away to reveal the image. Although I work on black scraperboard I remove almost all of the black to reveal detailed lines.
I use a variety of tools for each image, from Essdee scraperboard tools for larger areas, a craft knife and a sharpened old school compass for more detailed areas! The scraperboard is the first stage of a more complex process which ultimately develops into full colour designs which I then use to produce prints, cards and also for designs for fabric and paper products.
How and when did you get started using scraperboard?
I previously worked on a sort of home made version of scraperboard which involved scraping black poster paint off a surface and in 2019 my husband bought me some scraperboards and since then I have been hooked.
Why did you choose to work with scraperboard?
The scraperboard lets me work in more detail than my home made version and I have found that I really enjoy that detailed work. The finished results let me achieve a look similar in style to printmaking techniques such as lino cut or etching. They provide the first step in my finished pieces.
Where do you work?
After a long non art based career I went back to full time art and design work at the start of 2022, and the first activity was to build a studio in the garden, which is where I now work. It has given me the space to work on a slightly larger scale and to have space to do all the other more mundane tasks such as paperwork and processing orders etc. It has also allowed me space to start some lino prints as well!
Tell us about your typical day?
I am usually in the Studio 5 or 6 days a week, and tend to try and start by 8.30 at the latest. If I am not in working then I may be at an event selling work or out in the garden which is my other great passion.
What inspires your work?
The plants which I grow are my biggest inspiration. I am lucky enough to have a large garden which I have been developing over the last 25 years so it is now packed with lots of plants. I love selecting something I have grown, sketching it, developing the design on the scraperboard before trying to capture the colours that encapsulate the essence of the specimen. Often plants are selected just as they passing their peak, when blooms are beginning to rage against the inevitable decline. Their shapes and forms are at their most expressive then.
Exotic and colourful birds are also a great subject matter for me and I am lucky enough to live near to a Bird centre which specialises in breeding and protecting rare species from around the world so I can visit them.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SCRAPEROARD PIECE THAT YOU HAVE MADE?
Favourites tend to change with time but the oriental poppies which I completed last year is a current favourite and also the Love birds which are fascinating to watch and lovely to draw.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just starting a new piece with some chrysanthemums, they are quite complex flowers and this year they put on a great display so I spent a bit of time earlier in the summer sketching them and the scraperboard is just getting started! I think this one will take a bit of time.
Do you have a favourite essdee product?
Yes, the scraperboard cutter style 4 – great for removing large areas and one of the easiest to sharpen.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
As well as being an artist I also write and have completed four young adult novels, a bit dark in tone and aimed at the 13 – 17 age group. I have just recently signed a deal with a German publisher for one of them which is very exciting!
Do you have any top tips or advice for other scraperboard artists?
When I started using scraperboard I had not really looked at many other artists work using this media so just gave it a go and found my own style and techniques. My advice would be there is no right or wrong way to use the boards, just give it a go!
where can we see more of your work?
I supply a number of galleries and shops in the UK and USA. You can follow on Facebook or Instagram to see what I am up to and to see new pieces of work. I sometime post reels on Instagram which show pieces in progress.
where can we buy your work?
I sell through several outlets and at events but also online at https://www.rachelmeehan.co.uk/
Photo of Rachel holding a sunflower print – Phil Wilkinson Photographer
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