For most, the individuality that defines an artist is often not revealed until the finished product is seen. Charlie Ewing, however, is unique not only in the art he creates, but how he creates it.
Ewing is the featured artist in the latest display of the Durango Arts Center’s Friends of the Art Library, or FOAL, series. Most of the work he’s chosen exemplify his ink-on-clay technique, a group of black-and-white drawings. While it’s not accurate to say it’s a patented technique, Ewing does have an advantage working in the medium because he invented it. The process involves the use of Claybord, a trademarked version of scratchboard that allows Ewing to alter his drawings with steel wool or another abrasive up to and even after ink is applied to the surface. He is one of a handful of artists who regularly use the product for fine art instead of simple illustrations.
FOAL is a subculture within the DAC, and the group brings in six shows a year just for the upstairs art library.
"We try to divide our offerings between local artists and out-of-town artists, to give the public some variety. The outside artists often work in media not seen as often in Durango, and this show is an example of that," said FOAL member Louise Grunewald.
Because of FOAL, local artists will get their chance to give the Claybord technique a try. Ewing will teach a two-day workshop on Oct. 24 and 25, with a free gallery talk to introduce the process on Oct. 23. He said most of his students enjoy working with the Claybord, but few, if any, have mastered it. He also published a book, The New Scratchboard, detailing several printmaking methods specific to Claybord.
"The technique is extremely unique. I’ve tried to teach it, but nobody takes off with it the way I do," Ewing said. "I’m still waiting to find my prodigy."