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Friday, July 27, 2012

The World of Scratchbord

Scratchbord™ is its own art all together, not that every medium is different, but what makes scratch art so unique is that it begins as a subtractive art.  Ampersand Scratchbord™ has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines.  It is similar to drawing, but in reverse.  Just like other Ampersand boards, Scratchbord™ can be colored, too.  Below I've listed some resources and tips for working with Scratchbord™.

This slideshow is from the "A Scratch in Time" exhibition in 2010 in Alamosa, CA.  All work was done on Ampersand Scratchbord.

Working with Scratchbord™:
  • Getting started in Scratchbord with tips from AmpersandStart by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord™ surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth. 
  • Repair a mistake: Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas.
  • The Chess Player, 14" x 18" by Diana Lee
  • Sealing Scratchbord:  Seal Scratchbord™ with an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. Then, you can frame your finished Scratchbord™ art without glass. 

Tools for Scratchbord:
Coloring Scratchbord:
  • Inks:  To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord™ Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. This will give the forms in your drawing volume and dimension. Add more color where needed and repeat this process until you are totally satisfied with the results. 
  • Scratchbord colored flower exercise from Sally Maxwell:  Texas artist, Sally Maxwell, is known for her exquisite scratchboard drawings. Her enthusiasm for the medium led her to develop techniques for using color with scratchboard over twenty years ago. For more information about the artist, please visit www.sallymaxwellsart.com.
  • Lemons by Diana Lee
  • Using acrylic:  Scratchbord, similar to Claybord except finished with a topcoat of India Ink, can also accept both watercolor and acrylic.  For a demonstration in coloring scratchbord with acrylic, check out Rock Newcomb's article: Acrylics on Claybord.
Educational Resources:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sealing and Varnishing Art Work on Ampersand Panels

Sealing and varnishing finished artwork on Ampersand panels is extremely important especially when framing without glass. Be sure to select a varnish that is appropriate to the type of paint you are using. Provided below are a few basic suggestions for sealing and varnishing several popular mediums using products we have successfully tried and tested on our panels.

Watercolors & Gouache

Seal watercolors or gouache with several light coats of spray varnish (or fixative), being careful to spray outdoors during warmer months or in a well ventilated and heated area during colder times of the year. We recommend the Krylon® UV Archival varnishes. These spray varnishes offer advanced non-yellowing protection against fading, dirt, moisture and discoloration. The Krylon® UV Archival varnishes contain superior levels of UV light absorbers and are removable for conservation purposes. For additional protection against scratches during transport and also ultraviolet light, follow the application of Krylon® spray varnish with Golden® MSA UVLS  or Golden® Polymer UVLS varnish. About 4 coats brushed-on, provides a very durable archival finish and is also removable for conservation purposes.
Oils

Ampersand panels do not lessen the drying time required for oil paints before varnishing. Allow the oil painting to dry for 3-6 months before applying the varnish. A good choice is Gamblin’s Gamvar that is easily applied using a soft natural hair brush. Unlike varnishes made from natural resins like Damar and mastic, Gamvar does not yellow with age or become more difficult to remove. It contains a UV stabilizer and offers some measure of protection to less lightfast pigments, depending on how heavily it is applied. For tips on application, Gamblin offers this video demonstration.

Acrylics
For Acrylic paintings, a light coat of an acrylic varnish like Golden® MSA UVLS  or Golden® Polymer UVLS varnish is advised. Problems such as smoke damage, handling blemishes and dust or dirt accumulation on the surface of the painting can be removed along with either varnish type. Golden® varnishes offer protection from UltraViolet (UV) rays generated from the sun and consolidate the artwork with an even sheen. Gloss varnishes can intensify colors while Matte or Satin Varnishes soften the color and minimize glare. Alternatively, Gamblin’s Gamvar [see varnishing oils] can effectively be used to varnish acrylic paintings.  

This is a Golden video on the Proper Spray Application of MSA varnish
Pastels

Sealing pastels with spray fixative tends to dull the color of the pigments, so we recommend all pastels be framed under glass. The glass protects the fragile nature of the pastels while also keeping their colors true to life. For tips on matting and framing pastels, consult this article.
Sealing Scratchbord™ (formerly Claybord Black)

Seal finished Scratchbord™ art with a spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating  or use the Krylon® UV Archival Spray Varnish. The fixative [or spray varnish] will dissolve fingerprints or smudges and will protect the surface from dirt and moisture. For best results, first remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush. Then, spray with 2 - 3 coats [as directed on can] in a warm, well ventilated environment during low humidity.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Featured Artist: Nancy Johnson Standlee

Mixed Media Landscape, Trees with Collage 12086,  Gessobord with 2" cradle
Oil on Gessobord
"I have had a hard time settling on one medium and feel like a dilettante at times, taking up one medium and then wanting to learn to work in another.  At age 76, I really don't have the time to settle down to one medium when there are so many avenues to explore." ~Nancy Johnson Standlee

Nancy Johnson Standlee grew up in a creative family that made do on little money and lots of ingenuity.  Her parents passed down the gift of "make it yourself" when she was very young.  "One of the earliest memories of my father was me complaining that my doll was bald.  My daddy took the scissors to the family collie and got some snips of hair and glued them with regular old school glue which resulted in a good lesson to me in creativity," she explains.  Nancy's interest in making things prompted many forays into collage, crafts, workshops and art classes.  She has done batik, decoupage, gouache, acrylic, watercolor, oil and loads of mixed media.  Retirement has allowed more time for the devotion to fine art including travel for workshops (several from Robert Burridge), memberships in several painting societies, and maintaining her online gallery in Daily Paintworks.  
Tulip Collage, 12081
10x8" on Gessobord 1" deep cradle with collaged sides

Bold color, figures of red-haired women, and abstract movement are the staples of Nancy's work.  She is inspired by the many workshops she's attended, other artist friends and colleagues, art books (as an ex. librarian) and the ongoing trial and error of new materials.   Nancy's thoughts on using good art materials means that her brown linoleum kitchen floor might be patched with duct tape, but her artwork, made with the best products available, tends to be more thought out and planned.  Quality art materials lends to better art making. 

Nancy came upon Ampersand panels during a workshop at the Bunkhouse in Texas.  Dena Wenmohs, the owner of Bunkhouse, who also loves using Ampersand panels, took the group on a tour of the factory in Austin to share her enthusiasm.  Nancy found that the prepared surfaces were easier to delve into, with no need to get into a woodshop  or prime wood panels.  Long ago, Nancy discovered the difficulty of trying to frame her own MDF boards without proper tools and know-how.  The cradled Ampersand panels were the perfect fit for her limitations and desires.  They were already stable, sealed and primed, and could be ready to hang in minutes without framing.  Nancy leans towards the Gessobord™ as it work easily for her acrylic, oil paints, or mixed media collage.
New Year, New Celebration, Acrylic on Gessobord

To see more of Nancy's work, check out her blog, her website or her gallery on Daily Paintworks.

All things Ampersand,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.