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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Artists in our Online Gallery

Ampersand has an online gallery now on Flickr, and a running slideshow playing in our blog of this work, too.  These are all works and events that have been created on Ampersand boards, in various media and styles by a range of artists.  Many of these artists have approached us with their work and shared how much they enjoy the panels.  And a few artists have been spotted via articles, online galleries or events that we've attended.

Can It Happen? by Nancy Wolitzer
In each case, we at Ampersand, have been honored to have gotten to know these artists and their work a little better.

This past month, several new artists have been added to the gallery.   A big thanks to them for using Ampersand and letting us share their work with you.

Nancy Wolitzer --
“I recently found out that one of my Claybord™ pieces was selected for inclusion in the Prince Street National Juried Show in New York City.”

Bliss by Susan Wahlrab
Susan Wahlrab --
“I was just at my gallery and they were asking about your product. I told them how much I both enjoy and am challenged by learning a whole new way [to get what I want], by finding this new technique of working in watercolor on Claybord™”

Earth Echoes, Brian Sylvester
Brian Sylvester --
“This was done on an 18"x24" Ampersand Gessobord™. I am normally a canvas painter, but I am completely hooked on your wood panels, and I'm not sure if I will ever go back to canvas.”

Shooters, Donna Slade
Donna Slade --
“Just about all of my colored pencil paintings are done on the Ampersand Pastelbord™ using all the different colors.”

The Lover of Dawn, Stephen Schrimpf
Stephen Schrimpf --
“First, let me tell you how much I love working on Ampersand Hardbord™. Years back while living in Dallas, I had to  manually construct hard surfaces which never reached the quality I expected. Then I moved Austin and was referred to Ampersand. This was truly a dream come true. In the last three years, I have been fully committed to my painting and your product has allowed me to explore new artistic techniques that I otherwise would never had discovered.”

Snakesong, Darick Ritter
Darick Ritter --
“Thank you for looking at my paintings/drawings on Ampersand Claybord™ and thank you for one of my favorite products to make art with.”

Oltrarno, Peter Prest
Peter Prest --
“Oltrarno” is a watercolor done on 18”x24” Gessobord™. I use both Gessobord™ and Aquabord™ for the majority of my work and have found your surfaces to be excellent for the watercolor medium.”

It's Not You, It's Me, Leslie Pierce
Leslie Pierce --
“As promised, here is a piece I did using your wonderful Ampersand products [oils on Gessobord™]”

Vader, Kip Omolade
Kip Omolade --
“The Ampersand Gessobord™ provides me a surface that allows photo-realistic oil technique and abstract design. The texture offers enough grit for both thick layers and thin glazes of oil paint. I also use the sides of the boards resulting in a three dimensional sculptural effect. The surface upon which an artist paints dictates the integrity of his or her vision. The Ampersand Gessobords are an immensely valuable starting point. Thank you for continuously providing quality materials for the artistic community.”

Demando Cat, Jeff Leedy
Jeff Leedy --
“My medium is seldom used and is oil pastel. I like this medium because I can draw on the Aquabord™ after toning the background, paint with that oil pastel, draw on top of that, use fixative, draw, paint, etc. I love the texture, it is great for oil pastel.”

Hummingbirds in Garden, Jessica R. Herrera
Jessica R. Herrera --
“I love your product. Your Scratchbord™ is wonderful!”

Mottled, Elizabeth Patterson
Elizabeth A. Patterson --
“My colored pencil piece, Mottled, has won second place in the still life category of The Artist's Magazine's 28th Annual Competition. It’s 16”x20” on Pastelbord™.”

Crimson King, Tre Dilday
Tre Dilday --
“I love your smooth Claybord™”

Shadows, Olga Dabrowska
Olga Dabrowska --
“As far as I know, I am the only person in Poland using your Scratchbord™ panels on constant basis. I will continue scratching as I simply got hooked on your product.”

New World, Jennifer Bain
Jennifer Bain --
“I think the product [Claybord™] is fantastic and I have spent a lot of time developing ways to utilize it's qualities to the fullest and of course, still working on new ideas. I don't think many artists realize what this unique surface can do.”

Peach Petals, Linda Aman
Linda Aman --
“I just finished teaching three Aquabord™ watercolor workshops this month two in Idaho and one in Oregon. I have attached a painting of mine, similar to what the art students painted. They were all excited and will be going out and buying this great product.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Acrylic Painting on Ampersand Panels

Ampersand really does provide a surface for every style of painting and medium out there.  With the variety of surfaces, it can be tough to choose which surface is right for you, especially if the medium is so versatile, like acrylic.  Let's take a look at the properties of both and what works best with this medium.

Acrylics, or acrylic dispersion paint, is relatively new to the art world, coming into its own as the paint it is today in the early 60's.  Acrylic paint is pigment that has been dispersed, or evenly homogenized and stabilized in an acrylic binder, which differs depending on the brand of paint you use.

Unlike any other painting medium, many raw materials may be added to provide a variety of working properties.  Brilliant color and quick drying time are commonly known attributes of acrylic paints. A variety of additives can control the thicknesses, density, hardness, flexibility and gloss levels of the paint.  As such, acrylics are a versatile medium, able to adhere to almost anything, work quickly as a watercolor wash or go on super heavy like alla prima oil paint.  They can work as washes under colored pencil, pastel, graphite, charcoal or ink.  And, they can handle specialized additives like marble dust, granite or pumice.  Acrylics can also be printed on via an inkjet printer or they can be used to embed an image from a printer.  Acrylics can be used to seal a watercolor painting, seal a raw panel, prime a raw canvas or "be the canvas" themselves.  Acrylics are so versatile that it seems they would work on any Ampersand panel.  And, while that is true, here are some thoughts about using acrylic on specific Ampersand boards.
Wilson's Plovers, Acrylic by Ginger Gehres
  •  Gessobord™, our #1 recommendation, was designed with acrylics in mind for both thin washes and thick strokes of paint. To make Gessobord, we use a professional quality acrylic gesso that is sanded to a finely textured and slightly absorbent finish. Gessobord works well with gel mediums, scraping tools, palette knives and heavy layering. And now, it comes in a 1 1/2" profile that fits into standard gallery and floater frames or that can be painted or stained to finish.
  • Claybord™ excels with thinned acrylic watercolor techniques because it’s highly absorbent, vellum-smooth and extremely forgiving with changes and clean-up. Like Gessobord, it’s also now available in the 1 1/2” cradle.
  • With more fluid and thinned acrylic paints, only Claybord™ allows for additive and subtractive art techniques. Easily remove color or add lines and texture with the Ampersand scratch tools and oil-free steel wool adding dimension and clarity to your image.
  • Since Claybord™ is so absorbent, when trying to preserve color, always thin down your acrylics with the appropriate medium, like a matte acrylic medium, for example, rather than with water.
  • Aquabord™ is more textured and absorbent than Claybord and allows for a more even build-up of paint layers and stacked brush strokes similar to using a cold press paper. Since it’s designed for use with watercolor, it’s also amazing with acrylic wash techniques and mixed media.
  • Pastelbord™ is also a viable option because it offers a longer open working time with acrylics due to its clay, gesso and marble dust finish that is not only finely textured, but also absorbent. This unique ground allows seamless flows and washes better than on any of our other surfaces.
  • Pastelbord™ comes in three great colors and white already, but can be easily toned with an acrylic color wash for your own choice of under-painting color.
  • Encausticbord™, originally designed for the unique demands of encaustic painting, is also an ideal choice for those looking to use acrylics alone or with mixed media and collage. The surface is sanded smoother than the Gessobord and is also a bit more absorbent. Encausticbord functions well for all types of acrylic paint applications. We don’t recommend using acrylics with encaustic paint, however, because the wax will not permanently bond with it.
  • "Orange you glad" Acrylic on Encausticbord by Ginger Gehres
  • For Scratchbord™ art, acrylics can be thinned down and used to color the white scratched-in areas. Our Scratchbord is coated with jet black india ink, but reveals the white underneath when scratches are made — it’s a smooth white clay surface that accepts all types of watermedia.
All of the Museum Series Ampersand surface coatings I just mentioned are pH neutral, acid-free and archival.

For more information on specific panels with acrylic paint, check out the articles below:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Featured Artist: Jeff Leedy

It is rare to find a fine artist that works in oil pastels.  Rarer still to find one whose subject matter is humorous, drawing in the viewer with laughter and amusing captions rather than conceptual design, strong lines or photo-realism.  It's not that Jeff Leedy isn't a gifted draughtsman and designer, but his career has found a niche in bringing the public funny art, in oil pastels, on Aquabord™.

Jeff Leedy began his art career out of college, working for ad agencies as an art director for years before becoming an illustrator.  His path led him to working in freelance illustration for several years before starting to do shows, giving him the ability to be a full-time artist.  During his work as an illustrator, Jeff took a hiatus to Europe, taking along acrylics and oil pastels, enjoying the flexibility the pastel gave him.  This combination of mediums allowed him to draw and paint, work in layers and add acrylic washes to tone the substrate if needed.   It was the perfect fit for his style, and he has stuck with it.   Jeff chose oil pastels because they are the right match for his art, the same way he chose Aquabord years ago.

Board Meeting
Aquabord made its way into Jeff's studio when it kept appearing in his favorite art supply catalogs.  After doing some research and finding out that Ampersand was close to his home in Marble Falls, Texas, he made a visit to the factory in Austin and got to know the company and their products.  He quickly discovered that Aquabord was the perfect texture and finish for his oil pastels.  Aquabord holds many layers of oil pastel and even allows for acrylic washes to tone the surface first. Jeff uses solvent and brushes without concern for overworking the surface. Not to mention, Aquabord provides him a rigid substrate that needs no glass or framing if cradled, even with oil pastel. Jeff uses a spray fixative, Sennelier oil pastel fixative, and then a final gloss varnish, Krylon, to protect his finished images and pop the color. Depending on the size and whether or not he uses a cradled board will determine if the artwork requires glass or not.  When using frames, Jeff purchases wholesale frames made to all sizes for his originals; when using the cradled Aquabord, Jeff paints the sides.

Me?  I'm just up here to help
Besides working as a humorist, artist, and a gallery owner, Jeff teaches workshops and speaks to both art and non-art groups.  You certainly don't have to be an artist or know about art to appreciate Jeff's wit.  And if you are looking for an instructor who brings talent and humor to his classroom, look no further.

I can still make par
Jeff strongly believes in the power of good drawing, "Drawing like a Painter" is one of his most popular workshops.  He believes that the medium shouldn't get in the way of learning to draw, nor should the subject matter.  If the subject matter becomes too difficult, the medium will seem harder to manage as well.  Jeff's personal specialty in teaching is to help students overcome their "blocks" to creativity.  "My goal is to lift each student up one whole level of ability," he explains.  He does this with humor, patience and with an understanding of the power of good drawing skills.  Jeff teaches his students by having them work alongside him, giving feedback along the way.  He is scheduled to teach a few workshops in Mendocino, CA this July and more in September in Marble Falls; you can find more details on his own website: