Search This Blog

Friday, March 30, 2012

Featured Artist: Cynthia Haase

In the Pink, 4" x 4", oil on Gessobord
"I love drama, not in my life, but in my paintings." ~Cynthia Haase

Cynthia Haase was given a set of pastels and a pad of paper from a neighbor friend when she was young planting her love affair with art.  She continued her pastel work and moved into colored pencils into adulthood even though life called her to work full time for a while to care for her family.  In 1992, she was able to leave the corporate world to pursue her passion for art full time.

Haase took time in her self-directed study to work under Deborah Bays who gave her a deep appreciation for atmosphere, lighting and a sense of drama in her work.  It has only been a recent move to oil painting for Haase as she picked up a paint brush in 2010 and began painting daily, bringing the same atmosphere to her paintings as she has to her colored pencil work and pastel paintings.  

Since Haase already had a background using Pastelbord™ as a favorite surface for her colored pencil and pastel work, she picked up Gessobord™ and found that her oil painting style worked well with the coated panels.  Haase explains, "the smooth surface of Gessobord best allows me to achieve big brushstrokes with thin paint in some areas and thick paint in others.  I also love soft edges and Gessobord allows my brush to slide so smoothly to create that softness. You can either fight with a surface or you can focus on what you do best and assume the surface is going to help you."
Blue Sake Pitcher, 8" x 10", Pastel on Pastelbord

In choosing quality art materials like Gessobord or Pastelbord, Haase shares that the high quality and archival features of the panels are top priorities in her work.  She also finds that the sizes she prefers in the bords pack and ship well to her clientele with no fuss. 

Haase has been dedicated to the arts industry in many facets as she is the current President of the Colored Pencil Society, and the President of the Lakewood Arts Council, a member of the Colorado Pastel Society, a member of the Daily Paintworks, Daily Painter Originals and Fresh Paint Daily Painters. 

To see more of Cynthia Haase's work, visit her blog or her website:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scratchbord Demos with Linda Sheets

Linda's Scratchbord Kit
Scratchbord™ is a clay coated hardboard panel for scratchboard that is coated with India ink. Comparable to traditional paper scratchboard, except better – it’s more durable and easier to scratch into for cleaner and crisper details and lines. For added dimension, colored inks can be added to the white areas and then scratched again for additional highlights and volume. Artwork can be sprayed with spray fixative, allowing the finished scratchboard to be framed without glass!

Arkansas artist Linda Sheets fell in love with Scratchbord™ 10 years ago after picking up a couple of samples in an art supply store. Since then, she hasn’t stopped scratching! Linda is known for her folk art inspired Monkeys, Dogs, Birds and Still Life studies. Her work is shown in several galleries in Texas, Missouri and Arkansas and is in many private collections. Sharing techniques and showing everyone how satisfying and easy this medium can be is a source of constant delight for her.

Blue Eyed Circus
Linda Sheets is well known not only for her scratchboard drawings but students nationwide flock to her workshops because of her wonderful ability to inspire and teach.  Linda has been creating art in one form or another for most of her life.  Her innovative approach to scratchboard has set Linda in a class all her own.  She is also the creator of several scratchboard kits marketed by Ampersand Art Supply.   

Come join Artist Linda Sheets for a fun-filled, hands-on mini-workshop and demo at the stores listed below.  Learn how to render incredible detail and exquisite line drawings using scratchboard.  You’ll learn how to add brilliant color to your drawings and experience how easy it is to create with this wonderful medium.  Sponsored by Ampersand Art Supply, all materials will be provided including their awesome Scratchbord surface, the professional choice for scratchboard art.

Details to come on the Following:  Watch us on Twitter @Ampersand_Art for details:
Each demo will consist of brief description of the board and scratchboard history, tips and suggested techniques. Samples, patterns for transfer and tools will be provided for hands on experience. In addition, there will be an opportunity to explore adding color using various inks and paints. Most will leave with a finished or partially finished piece of their own unique Scratchbord art!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top Ten Reasons for Painting on Ampersand Panels

In today’s art supply market, artists have a plethora of surfaces to choose from to create their work. We’d like to share some information regarding the advantages of painting on not just a rigid panel, but the true advantages of painting on an Ampersand panel that has been well prepared. 

  1. Well-prepared rigid panels are the best support for an artwork -- It is difficult, over time, for a stretched canvas to support thick layers of oil colors, acrylic paints or alkyds without resulting in cracking of the paint film. Stretched canvas is also much more susceptible to atmospheric changes in moisture and temperature – again affecting the stability of the artwork over time. Rigid substrates, on the other hand, can support heavy bodied paints and thick layers without cracking. Paintings on prepared wood panels from the 3rd and 4th centuries are still in tact without cracking of the paint film

  2. Archiva-Seal™ barrier technology protects your art -- All wood panels should be sealed before applying the painting ground and before painting on the surface. Have you ever used a pure white gesso ground directly on wood only to discover that it looks yellow or marbled? Not with Ampersand's acid-free surfaces. Ampersand’s hardboard supports are first properly sealed with Archiva-Seal™. Ampersand uses this unique patented barrier technology to seal the hardboard preventing any support-induced discoloration and any separation of the painting ground from the panel. 

  3. Acid-free surfaces from top to bottom -- Every single ground Ampersand uses is acid-free and long lasting, from the smooth absorbent clay ground of Claybord™ to the bright acrylic gesso ground of Gessobord™.

  4. High-density hardboard engineered for stability -- All of Ampersand’s Museum Series panels are made with premium US made hardboard that has a high-density fiber core engineered for maximum dimensional stability. Ampersand’s hardboard outperforms MDF and raw wood panels when it comes to eliminating panel warping and bowing.
  5. Museum Series Sampler

  6. Easy to frame or not to frame -- There is no need to frame the cradled panels as they are ready to hang as soon as the painting is complete. Only Ampersand cradle support frames are handcrafted with 13-ply stable Birch plywood that can be painted, stained, waxed or left unfinished. Ampersand offers up a few hanging tips and cradle treatments here: Hanging Tips

  7. Choose from a variety of finishes without having to seal and prime -- Claybord™, Encausticbord™, Pastelbord™, Gessobord™, Scratchbord™ and Aquabord™ are all ready to use right away without the need to seal, prime and gesso the panel. And, if you want to prepare your own special ground, you can use Hardbord™.

  8. Many popular standard sizes and profiles -- Ampersand has a wealth of sizes and cradle profiles, choose from over 500 configurations. Download a pdf of the complete list here:  Sizes and Profiles

  9. Panels can support any paint medium -- Any medium can be applied to one of Ampersand's panels:  pastel, charcoal, acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, alkyd, casein, ink, oil pastel, oil bar, encaustic, egg tempera and more. For tips on which panel might be right for you, here’s a panel comparison chart:  Panel Comparison Chart

  10. Made from FSC certified sustainable US forest products -- Using wood panels can be daunting, knowing that trees are processed to make them, however, Ampersand takes the environment seriously and although more expensive, they choose FSC certified wood products from US forests that are renewable and sustainable. FSC certification is the most effective environmental standard for the protection of wildlife, soil and water quality. Ampersand hardboard is also manufactured using a completely green process: no harmful chemicals used, no hazardous waste and no gas emissions for the end consumer—and completely formaldehyde-free.

  11. Made in the USA — Ampersand official headquarters is located in Austin, Texas providing manufacturing jobs in their community and the highest quality products for artists nationwide.


    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Featured Artist: Ann Ranlett

    "Boston Style" on Claybord with India Ink
    Ann Ranlett is an illustrator and artist, specializing in pet and animal artworks.  She uses a variety of mediums, including pen and ink, colored pencil, watercolors and Ampersand Scratchbord™.  Working from photos that she takes herself, Ann gets to know her subjects personally so that she can create portraits emphasizing the nuances of each subject.

    With a degree in biology, a background in scientific illustration and a lifelong interest in nature, conservancy and animal rescue, Ann is at home painting animal portraits.  Her portfolio and clientele list are extensive as seen on her website, but her persona and presence with animals is down to earth.  

    Ann's work in scratchboard began back in 1999, when she discovered working on boards at a Guild of Natural Science Illustrator's conference.  Before that she had been working with pen and ink on paper for years, but she particularly loved the forgiving nature of the scratchboard medium which gave her flexible options for her work in black and white. 
    "Rommel" on Scratchbord tinted with Derwent Inktense

    In particular, Ann began working on Ampersand's Scratchbord™ because she was familiar with the Aquabord™ for her mixed media pet portraits.  She actually began using the white Claybords™ first for her scratch work because she was familiar using the white grounds, but found inspiration using Scratchbord™ from other artists' success.

    Ann is drawn to her range of mediums depending on her subject matter, some of which call for color and others that need to be grayscale, "some looser in style and others in tight details," Ann explains.  "In the case of a commission, it's what the client prefers."  She likes using a range of mediums as an artist because it gives her a chance to stretch her style; creating in watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, mixed media and scratchboard helps Ann push her work to new levels.

    "I'm really in my element when working  on Scratchbord™; it’s quite forgiving and I like the challenge of creating intricate detail and texture with black, white and shades of grey. I also enjoy working in graphite pencil for the same reasons," says Ann.  Ann encourages beginners to try Scratchbord™ because it is so much more forgiving than traditional scratchboard paper.  "People seem to think that it's really difficult, but they don't realize that good quality boards can be re-worked quite a bit and that a mistake is not permanent.  It's a portable medium, too; all you need is a board and a knife to get going."

    "Baby Cottontail" on Stampbord with ink, watercolor and colored pencil
    To see more of Ann's work or learn about her events and her process, check out her blog at: or her website:

    To learn more about other artists using Scratchbord, check out the newly formed International Society of Scratchboard Artists and the WetCanvas! Scratchboard Forum.