Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Claybord Installation Art from Mary Ann Peters

Mary Ann Peters and Jim Olson in the meditation room
There are always new and interesting uses for artist materials, and in this case, an endless list of ways to create art on panels. 

Mary Ann Peters did just that -- taking painting to the next level with installation work designed by Jim Olson, who creates residences for major art collectors via his firm, Olson Kundig.

Mary Ann created several large pieces using tinted plaster, Claybord™, gouache and watercolor for private residences both nationally and internationally.  The Washington State Museum of Art is currently featuring her work in an exhibition titled:  Jim Olson:  Architecture for Art.

The exhibition includes Mary Ann's interior, a meditation room, which is painted on custom built Claybord.  Mary Ann stumbled onto Clayboard in 1997 doing research for panels that would travel well for a residency in Istanbul.  At the time she was making her own plaster based surfaces, however, Clayboard appealed to her need to make both a detailed precise mark and a diffused wash on one surface, two methods that she regularly employs in her work. As though painting on unfired porcelain, Mary Ann shares, "[my] work in painting on earthen surfaces was a direct result of traveling in non Western countries where images were made with a marriage to the natural surfaces of the culture's dwellings."

Mary Ann puts a lot of thought into her work, her muses being architecture, science, personal heritage and lost histories.  Many of her interiors are quite a bit larger than this meditation room surrounding the viewer, the resident, with a sense of wonder and awe.  It is clear how Mary ann is able to meet the desires of her clients by her close attention to their lives and surroundings.  To see more of her work, her process and bio, refer to her website.

Ampersand has a wide variety of panels to choose from, in all different sizes with many different archival finishes.  To learn more about Claybord specifically, you can find out all the technical details on our website:

Paint on!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from Ampersand

It has been a busy and full year for Ampersand, and hopefully for you to as the economy is beginning to pick up.  We've enjoyed seeing your work online and hope you'll continue to join us and post on our Facebook page and here on our blog, and don't forget to find us on Twitter, too.

As the New Year opens, we'll be spending more time writing to you here in our blog and starting up a monthly newsletter.  So, if you haven't already signed up, please do so!

We'll be highlighting artists who use Ampersand panels and sharing their techniques and projects with you.  If you have questions about panels, thoughts and comments, please don't hesitate to write to us.

We are also always on the lookout for your work and blogs, so let us know who you are and what creative things you're doing on panel!

However you spend the holiday season, whether it be with family celebrating or at home in your studio working, Ampersand wishes you and yours the very best.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Claybord™ Box for Trinkets: How-to by Vickie Kammerer

This project was originally created by designer Vickie Kammerer for our Stampbord™ line of products. We are republishing it here since these techniques can also be applied to our Claybord™ Box Kit. This trinket box idea was inspired by techniques included in Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch's book Encaustic Workshop: Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax. Be sure to check it out too.

• Hot Plate
• Teflon Pan - small, to melt beeswax
• 2-3 Foam Brushes (hardware store)
• Phillips head screwdriver for box hinges
• Electric or cordless drill with small drill bit for hinge screws

1. Using the blue painter's tape, mask the edges of the Claybord™ Box lid surface and the top of the box base. Using a foam brush, paint the sides of the lid and the base sides with the Iron Surfacer from the Rust Kit. Let dry completely. Then paint a second coat and let dry over night. 
2. Using a clean foam brush, paint a coat of the Rust Antiquing Solution over all of the Iron Surfacer painted surfaces. Let this dry and cure and then paint another coat. If you want a uniform shade of rust, paint subsequent coats with the foam brush. If you want a more random rust finish, use a sea sponge and sponge some areas lighter and some areas heavier. Let each coat cure in between. Repeat layers until you are pleased with the finish. Do not seal. Let the box and box lid dry completely over night after before moving onto next step. 
3. Remove all of the masking tape from Claybord™ surface. Plug in the hot plate and heat the Teflon pan. Place several pieces of natural beeswax in pan to melt. While the wax is melting, cover the wooden sides of the box lid with painter's tape. Pre-heat the lid's Claybord surface by running the heat tool over the surface until it is warm. Using the hake brush, paint a single layer of beeswax over the entire box lid surface then fuse (reheating with the heat tool until surface just appears shiny). Allow to cool. 

4. Paint a thick layer of shellac over box lid with a new foam brush. Let dry.
5. Using the butane torch, burn “spots” into the shellac on the box lid. Do this by first placing the flame directly onto the shellac and when it begins to burn the shellac, pull the flame away when the spot is the size and shape you wish. Repeat this over the box lid, moving the torch to where you want a new spot to be, until you are pleased with the pattern. Let the lid set overnight.
6. Spell out the word "trinkets" with copper letters and glue into place on the front of the box lid. Attach the enclosed hinges to complete the box–be sure to pre-drill the holes for best results. 

Caution:  Please use extreme care when using heat and open flames in the studio and always keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

Step 1:  Mask the top and inside edges of the box

Step 2:  Paint on Rust Antiquing Solution 

Step 3:  Apply beeswax

Step 4:  Apply shellac

Step 5: Burn spots onto the shellac with butane torch

Step 6:  Apply copper letters to the front of the box

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be Generous, Buy Art, Meet Gensler Fundraiser Sept 29

Ampersand is proud to support in their efforts by supplying free panels to select Generous Artists on which to create works for sale in order to raise funds for local Austin non-profits. The Generous Art online gallery is dedicated to donating 40% of sales to local nonprofits, and gives 40% to local artists, seamlessly supporting the Austin community. Please join us for this grand opening affair - everyone is welcome:  Generous Art Opening Show and Fundraiser:  "Be Generous, Buy Art, Meet Gensler"

Listen to live music by the Robert Kraft Jazz Trio, while browsing and buying one-of-a-kind works of art. Come meet global design firm Gensler and tour their new offices in the W Hotel. Refreshments will be served.

WHEN:  Thursday, September 29, 2011 from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

W Hotel, 3rd Floor
212 Lavaca Street, Suite 390
Austin, TX 78701

ENTRY:  The event is free and open to the public.

ABOUT GENSLER:  Gensler is an international group of architects, designers, planners and consultants dedicated to the transformational power of design in improving the quality of life in the communities it serves.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Aquabord™ 2.0

Aquabord™ has undergone a number of important changes over the past few months due to a change in one of the raw materials we use to produce this unique surface for watercolors. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to make Aquabord even better than before. While the new Aquabord is in essence, the very same, it does have a few differences: 

Left: Previous version
Right: New flatter version
1. The new Aquabord™ surface has a flatter, more even texture. It’s less pebbly and feels more like a cold press watercolor paper.

2.  The new surface is slightly softer. You need to use less pressure when wet-lifting paint just like you would on paper.
3.  The new surface is more absorbent and emphatically more like watercolor paper (see helpful tips below).
4.  The new surface requires less water for washes and blends. It behaves more like a cold press watercolor paper now, so you don’t need as much water for wicking the paint across the surface – the paint moves more freely and blends beautifully.
5.  The vibrant color you’re accustomed to still applies.
6.  The lovely eggshell color of the natural clay you’re accustomed to is still around.
7.  You can still seal your watercolors and frame them without glass.

Top: New version
Bottom: Old version
Some helpful tips: The new Aquabord surface is very porous. You may see some air bubbles come up when you apply very wet washes of color. To prevent this, flush the surface first before you start painting. Take a flat brush and apply big washes of water across the surface. Allow all the air bubbles to release. When the surface reaches a damp stage, then you can start applying watercolor to the surface. By allowing the air to escape first, you are basically opening up your surface to accept the pigment. This process will prevent those tiny air bubbles from affecting the consistency of the smooth transitions in your washes. 
Top: Washes on Aquabord
Bottom: Washes on 

Watercolor paper
More than a dozen professional watercolor painters and avid Aquabord users repeatedly tested our trial runs until we had the surface they felt worked best. As a result, we think you will love this new version of Aquabord. Either way, you are welcome share your feedback with us. We make Aquabord for you and it matters to us that you have a successful experience with our products.
We greatly appreciate your patience over the last few months during this reformulation. We think the new Aquabord is well worth the wait and we hope you do too. Now it’s time to do what you love and get back to painting watercolors on Aquabord!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Get Ready for Back to School with Ampersand

Ampersand Booth at Namta in Phoenix, 2011
We are back from a successful trip to Phoenix where we attended the annual NAMTA (National Art Materials Trade Association) trade show. We showcased a number of new display items for retailers for the Fall Back to School Season. If you missed us at the show, be sure to contact us for pricing and details on these great new displays for your store. And artists, be on the look out for these displays this Fall!

First, we have a new Artist Panel™ Pallet Stacker. Easily unload it right from the truck into your store. Available in both mixed 3/4" and 1.5" profiles or in just the 1.5" profile. It comes with the bright green skid! 
New Artist Panel Pallet Stacker for Fall
Next, we have a new product. It's a smooth version of the Artist Panel™ that can be used with oils, acrylics and mixed media. It's perfect for the artist who prefers a smoother surface in contrast to the canvas texture of the standard Artist Panel. Portraits, landscapes, this is your surface. The 1/8" profile fits nicely into pochade boxes as well. Prices to artists start as low as .59 each! This little counter top display was very popular at the show. Contact us if you'd like to get one for BTS.

New Smooth Artist Panel in a compact counter top display for Fall
And, we have these fun Gessobord™ blow-out multi-pack boxes. Each box comes filled with Gessobord and priced to sell. We have four varieties available each packed with top selling skus. Contact us for pricing.

Gessobord Blow-Out Sale Multi-Pack boxes for Fall
And last, but not least! Scratchbord™ artist Linda Sheets designed six new scratchbord kits and showcased them at the show. The new kits feature the most adorable characters. She created over 100 monkeys and dogs in scratchboard for our dealers over the course of the show. The new kits will be available in stores for Fall. Contact us for pricing and availability.
Linda Sheets monkeying around
"Crowned Monkey", one of Linda Sheets' new kit designs

All of these new store displays will be available for shipping mid-late June. 
In other news, we'd like to congratulate our newest Encaustic Painting Center, Sarnoff Artist Materials. They picked up our show display and loaded it right into their store that weekend. Tucson artists can now buy all the Encausticbord™ and R&F handmade paints and accessories they could possibly desire. See the store for details.
Ampersand/R&F 44" Encaustic Painting Center

We did manage to explore some of the sites in Phoenix, there was plenty of wonderful art in public places and museums just waiting for us to find.

Ampersand's own Dana Brown and friend
500 Hopi Katsina dolls at the Heard Museum

And, of course we got to see some good friends.

Patti Brady from Golden® modeling our swag.

Our friends at R&F were right across from us.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stella Alesi Exhibition Feb. 27 - March 13, 2011

We had the pleasure yesterday of visiting artist Stella Alesi's opening at the Ladybird Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. Stella has been a longtime user and supporter of our Ampersand Gessobord over the years. All of her paintings in the show are painted on Gessobord™. We took a few pictures of the installation to share with you. If you are in the area, you should make it a point to visit both the Wildflower Center and the show. The paintings are located inside the Carriage House and are showing in conjunction with Richard Reynolds who does large scale photographic prints on canvas. None of the photographs were enhanced or color corrected, the paintings are just that good! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top five reasons to use the new Encausticbord™ by guest blogger Lisa Pressman

In the past, I painted on stretched canvas, gessoed Masonite boards, and other wood panels for a very long time. Then, I discovered Ampersand panels about ten years ago when I was first introduced to encaustic. I purchased some small 5”x7” Claybords to use for experiments and ended up doing a series on them using vintage postcards and encaustic. 

“Arrived Alright”, 5”x7” postcards 
and encaustic on Claybord, 2003

Around the same time, I began using the cradled Claybords for my oil paintings. I loved drawing with charcoal on the clay surface and also rubbing thin layers of oil paint to achieve a luminous light. 
Lisa Pressman, “At the Moment”, 
24”x24”, oil on Claybord™, 2005.
Lisa Pressman, “Walking the Line”,
36”x36”, oil on Claybord™, 2010.
Today, in the studio, I have 4 – 36”x36” cradled Claybords up and working for my upcoming show at The Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia, January 2011. 
Recently, I was asked by Ampersand to try out their new product specifically made for encaustics called, Encausticbord. They wanted to see what I thought of their new product in comparison to the Claybord I have been using over the years. Happily, I created a list of my top five favorite things about this new surface to share with you.

Top five reasons to use Encausticbord
1. Convenience 
I love when I bring home my nicely packaged and ready to paint Encausticbords. I am so busy with the multitasking of a studio practice, my art business, teaching, and family responsibilities, the faster I get going in my studio, the better. No building, no sanding, no gesso, no drying…just get working. They are gallery ready. Paint, wire, deliver, done!

2. The Surface
The surface of the new Encausticbord™ is very smooth, easy to draw on and whiter than white. It is as great as the Claybord to draw on, but more absorbent with more tooth, so the inks, charcoals and pastels really soak in as opposed to on the Claybord where their tendency is to "slide" across the surface. When you apply wax to the Encausticbord™, the light showing through the layers is bright white vs. the soft eggshell or cream color of the Claybord.

3. Multimedia Compatible
In my work, I combine wax, ink, charcoal, collage, soft pastels, R and F pigment sticks and oils. I have found that all of these materials respond beautifully to the Encausticbord™ surface.
4. Absorbent, Durable and Tested
I like to know that I am using a product that is tested for absorbency, durability and archival quality. The ground was tested by both R&F Handmade Paints and Ampersand, so I am confident that there will not be any cracking. It is also resistant to extreme heat from not only heat guns, but also torches. The larger panels are structurally braced, so I haven’t experienced any warping. 

5. Great for teaching, demos, workshops
I have found that by using Encausticbord with beginning students, it eases the learning curve because it is already the right surface for encaustic and needs no preparation. There is no second-guessing as to whether or not the ground will perform. 

R and F's new Circle Cold Tool

For more information about the new Encausticbord, visit the Ampersand website or check with your local dealer

About Lisa Pressman
She began her studies in ceramics, sculpture and painting at Douglass College, NJ and finished with a Bachelor of Art. Next, she received her MFA in painting from Bard College. For more information about the artist and her exhibition schedule, visit her website and her blog.