A conversation with AOG veteran and scratchboard artist Kathleen Conroy
By Rachel Porter
Photos provided by Kathleen Conroy
Oldham County will celebrate its 22nd year of Arts on the Green Fine Arts and Crafts Festival at the Maple Parks in Crestwood, Kentucky, supporting the Arts Association of Oldham County. With over 125 artists and various food vendors, attendees will be sure to have a memorable experience with their friends and family.
As the most significant art festival held in Oldham County, there is something for everyone’s taste and aesthetic. It is a space that welcomes over ten artist categories, including detailed scratchboard created by long-time featured artist Kathleen Conroy. Kathleen has been a part of Arts on the Green for over ten years and has enjoyed meeting her new and loyal customers.
Kathleen’s art of choice is not a preference by many artists due to the tedious details and countless hours of work that goes into creating each piece, but that’s what makes it so unique. When Kathleen was 18-years-old, she gave up her art scholarship to get married instead. However, after settling down and having kids, she decided to return to the Art Institute of Cincinnati in 1998 to receive her degree in Graphic Arts. “The first six months of school, they taught us different techniques, and scratchboard was one of them,” said Kathleen. “I’ve always liked fine detailed work and have done strictly 15 years of scratchboard. I retired to pursue my art career, and I am glad I took that leap and did so,” expressed Kathleen.
Scratchboard is a timely process that requires patience and attention to detail. It’s composed of a masonite board on the bottom and a very thin layer of clay. There’s a layer of black ink sprayed on top of the clay. Kathleen shared, “What I do is go back in and do a basic sketch of the subject I will portray and draw it out first using transfer paper.”
Kathleen added that she is getting to the clay level when she is scratching the ink. “I can either go back and paint it with inks or even watercolors, but I go back again with a scalpel once I do paint,” Kathleen described. A scalpel is a sharp blade and can bring the highlights back out of the scratchboard, making the work almost look 3D. It’s a repetitive scratching and then painting routine that can take up to four weeks to complete.
Kathleen creates different kinds of subject matter but loves anything with nature or something that allows her pieces to look three-dimensional. “At the festival, I will have scratchboard pieces of Great Blue Herons, foxes, florals, horses, sea turtles and more,” she said. “I also do many customs, and most of them are pet portraits.”
Arts on the Green is excited to welcome back Kathleen because of her exquisite work and strong work ethic. “I love detailed work, and every artist has their own thing that they like to do,” said Kathleen. “I keep trying to push myself because sometimes I doubt if I can do it, but then I teach myself how and the more I do, the better it is.”
The festival will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2022, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, June 12, 2022, from 11 a.m until 4 p.m. Admission is free. For visitors, there is an onsite parking lot on a first-served basis.
To get involved, national and regional artists can apply through zapplication.org by May 15 to go through the jury process. Artists that are invited back will have the chance to win the Featured Artist at the Arts on the Green 2023 title, $300 cash and free booth space for 2023.
Arts on the Green
Saturday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, June 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
6826 W State Hwy 22
Crestwood, KY 40014