The Buchenwald Project

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This infamous photograph was taken in 1945 during the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. This is an image I have wanted to complete for a very long time. About 4 years ago, I attempted this piece on a very large scale for scratchboard art - it was 18x24". I was overwhelmed by the size, and I wasn't happy with the results (see my previous post for a rundown of the Ugly before the Pretty), so I put it away for nearly 2 years. When I eventually pulled it out to finish it, I accidentally ruined the entire board with a batch of bad ink, rendering it complete and irreparable garbage. I cried. I stomped my feet. I threw it in the dumpster, all the while swearing I would never attempt this piece ever again. It was my white whale, and it had gotten away. It won. I lost.

When I received this grant from Creative Pinellas, my husband convinced me that it wasn't enough just to display a new body of work - I had to create a showstopper. At his urging, I agreed to give this image another go. But it wouldn't be 18x24" this time. It would be 36x48". (Thanks, honey.)

I don't know what I was thinking.

In order to look at it with fresh eyes (and an open little creative heart), I had to approach it differently. I decided to create this gigantic scratchboard in pieces. I purchased 35 6x6" squares - 7 across, 5 down - on which to scratch and then mount on wood. Basically, it will be a large grid, each square a fraction of an inch from its neighbor, all projecting from the board by about an inch. 

Below are some images of my progress so far. At this stage, I am just past the halfway mark with 19 completed squares. They are not scratched in order. In fact, I have purposely completed them in a random order so as to encourage small differences in shading or technique from square to square, only noticeable once fully assembled. This project has taken up a month of my life so far, and will likely claim all of September as well. It is exhausting. If it is a huge success, I will give my husband a big hug and kiss and thank him for suggesting it. If it is a failure, I will push him down and smack him around a bit. It's really win-win either way.


 This is what 35 inked squares look like.

This is what 35 inked squares look like.

 Some of the squares, taped and outlined with chalk.

Some of the squares, taped and outlined with chalk.

 First finished panel.

First finished panel.

 One by one, they keep coming...

One by one, they keep coming...

 Finally at the halfway mark! This is what 19 finished squares look like.

Finally at the halfway mark! This is what 19 finished squares look like.

 At this point, I figured I could start building the wooden panel they will sit on. Assembling the completed pieces onto the wood will start to make it look like a real image, and give a little light at the end of the tunnel.

At this point, I figured I could start building the wooden panel they will sit on. Assembling the completed pieces onto the wood will start to make it look like a real image, and give a little light at the end of the tunnel.

 Half assembled, though not yet framed. The photograph it looks a bit flat, but seen in person, I have confidence this will be a great piece.

Half assembled, though not yet framed. The photograph it looks a bit flat, but seen in person, I have confidence this will be a great piece.

 19 down, 16 to go...

19 down, 16 to go...