Search This Blog

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Las Pampas"

"Las Pampas", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

8" x 8" oil on Gessobord work by Greg Skol.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"La Soldadera"

"La Soldadera", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil on Claybord work by Elias San Miguel, 18" x 24",

Friday, December 20, 2013

Insights from the World of Scratchbord™, Part 3

Lisa Goesling shared an article, Insights from the World of Scratchbord, with us earlier this fall.  Below is another portion of the article.  

Scrub Jay, 12" x 16"
"I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of other key players in the world of scratchboard, [like] Rick Wheeler,

I am a big fan of Rick’s art. His overlapping contour shapes are a great example of the level of fine art achieved with Scratchboard. Rick’s printmaking background is evident, fooling his admirers into thinking that his landscapes and wildlife scratchboards are woodcuts and engravings.

“Scratchboard is first and foremost a drawing medium. It is every bit as much a drawing tool as a pencil, pen or charcoal” explains Rick. “I like to experiment with combining watercolors, inks and oils into my scratchboards, and Ampersand’s boards are really accepting of that.”  Two of his Scratchbord/Watercolors, Scrub Jay and Gray Hawk, were selected to be part of Artist’s Magazine’s 30th Annual Art Competition’s December 2013 issue.

Gray Hawk, 16" x 20"
Rick’s art is in permanent collections at Patagonia, the Grand Canyon Association, the St. George Art Museum, Utah, and Sonoma State University, CA. Some of his past clients are Abercrombie & Kent/Sheri Griffith Expeditions, Arches National Park, U.S. Marine Corps. Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Division, National Geographic Society, the Oregon Zoo, just to name a few. Rick is a published artist and Mentor at Prescott College, Tucson where he teaches drawing, painting and illustration."

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013


"Autumn", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Acrylic on Aquabord, 11" x 14", work by Stephen Quiller.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Dichter blue"

"Dichter blue", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

work by Nick Patten. Oil on Gessobord, 25" x 25".

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Cerulean warbler"

"Cerulean warbler", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil on Gessobord work by Deirdre Murphy, 20"x20", 2006.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Scratchbord™ in Highschool Art Classes

Maria Calamia, 2016
"I would first like to begin by extending a sincere and huge 'Thank You!' for donating Ampersand Scratchbords for our Art and Design students to use.  Each student was able to create an amazing image because of their creativity and skill, as well as the use of a quality product."  ~ Rachel Bartlett

Karen Contreras, 2017
Earlier this fall, Scratchbord™ artist and instructor Lisa Goesling demonstrated scratch art to a group of high school students at Palatine High School.  The students had no prior experience in scratchboard art, but as you can see, good instruction and encouragement goes a long way.  

Marisa Engberg, 2017
The students worked from photographs for the main subject and their imaginations for the backgrounds, while a few took the project further and added color as well.  Palatine teacher, Rachel Bartlett shares, "I did prepare the students by having them create practice value scales using cross-hatching, stippling, and other mark-making techniques to create the illusion of value and texture.  The students also created miniature versions of their animals for practice before Lisa Goesling came in to share her process and expertise with them."  Students worked into their boards with Exacto knives, "transferring" the image by observation.  Ms. Bartlett also instructed the students on Lisa Goesling's work and artist statement, so students were given a full picture of the artist's perspective as well as a chance to try the technique themselves.
Sydney Wynter, 2017
These students range in age from fifteen to eighteen, and Ms. Bartlett shared that at least one of her students purchased more Ampersand board on her own because she enjoyed the project so much.

Each piece is listed by the artist and their tentative graduation date.

If you have students working on Ampersand panels, let us know.  We love to hear of your teaching projects and success stories.

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.

Mary Kate Healey, 2017
Meghna Kumar, 2017
Mona Lisker, 2017
Melissa Martinez, 2014
Luz Mateos, 2017
Tess O'Brien, 2016
Yovany Perez, 2017 
Michelle Prochownik, 2017
Jackie Rilloraza, 2017

Caty Ruddle, 2017
Angela Ruiz, 2017
Maria Sardina, 2017
Kierstin Wohlgemuth, 2017

Skylar Russell, 2017

Missa Guss, 2017

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Ocelot, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Amazing work by Heather Lara on Scratchbord, 24" x 36",

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


"Echoes", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Acrylic on Pastelbord, 40"x 50" work by Ken Muenzenmayer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


"Abby", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Egg tempera work on Claybord by Mark Meunier.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Mobius transformation II"

Work by Jacqueline May; oil, encaustic, aluminum leaf on Gessobord, 2003.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Insights from the World of Scratchbord, Part 2

Gold Ring,  20" x 16"
Part One from artist Lisa Goesling:  Insights from the World of Scratchbord

The man responsible for the beloved Scratchbords is Renaissance man, Charles Ewing. He’s lived all over the world, immersing himself in diversity and allowing it to saturate his art, Charles served in the Peace Corps as an artist documenting wildlife in Chile. Someone suggested that he might enjoy scratchboards, so when he returned to the states, he checked them out.

He didn’t like the existing material. “It had limitations in terms of size, and strength, and had to be preserved under glass.” A costly mishap with the mediocre scratchboards of the day, forced him to lose a sale. The glue holding the cardboard scratchboard to the Masonite softened in the sun creating a bubble that couldn’t be flattened. Frustrated, he set out to create a better substrate.
Humility II,  20" x 16"

His first attempt was a success. Charles applied clay with a binder to a hard board, and added some ink; the medium could get wet but never dissolved, it was perfect!

At the time, he was living in Colorado, a few farms away from Elaine Salazar. She was working towards her MBA at the University of Texas and looking for a good product to feature for a business project. Charles invited her to his workshop to see his new invention and she fell in love with the idea.

She wasn’t the only one. Elaine stood before a board of investors whose sole purpose was to critique each product. After she finished, one of the investors stood up and said, “Ok, I am in!”

Cleaning God's House,  24" x 18"
That is how Ampersand Art, and its signature Claybords were born. The white porcelain boards covered in black ink are now called Scratchbords and the plain white porcelain clay boards are still referred to as Claybord™. Charles works with the latter. “The black and white pieces seen on my website were done using India ink on the Claybords. I start drawing with soft graphite easily erasing with fine steel wool as I change the composition. When satisfied, I begin applying ink washes, gradually going darker as the image progresses. At any time in the process, I can scratch or abrade the ink off of the white clay surface, creating sharp or broad highlights.”

Kale Vendor,  20" x 16"
Charles continues to work with this medium; “A lot of people find my art intriguing because they have never seen anyone work like this before. It has a certain mystique to it.” Charles has sold his Claybords, Oil Paintings and Bronze Sculptures through many galleries, but now also runs his own. He explained that after years of having someone else sell his art, he has learned that it is so much more rewarding to actually know the person who is buying it. “I really enjoy talking with folks who come by my shop and making a connection. That is what art it is all about, making connections, it’s a really nice experience.”

You can see a lot more of Charles' work on his website, along with his bio and upcoming events:

Written by Lisa Goesling

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013


"Elizabeth", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

by Luana Luconi Winner
Pastels on Pastelbord™, 2005

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Going home"

"Going home", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Powerful watercolor work on Aquabord by Linda Loeschen, 24" x 36".

Friday, November 22, 2013

Insights from the World of Scratchbords, Part 1

Cover image for Transatlantic 67 by Colum McCann,
Inside of an Iris
Lisa Goesling has been a featured artist on our blog as well as the recipient of two Ampersand Art awards through Manhattan Arts International.  Lisa shares her experience finding Scratchbord.

"If you are an artist, you understand the feeling of getting totally lost in your art. That happens every time I make a mark.

I discovered Scratchbord in 2006 and it’s become my medium of choice ever since. These hard boards covered in porcelain clay with a layer of black ink, are portable, require only a simple tool, and elicit the most incredible amount of detail.

Magnifying glass in hand, I study my subject, and then jump right in, layering line over line to create dimension. By varying the amount of pressure I put on the tool, I create nature’s contrasts, values and texture all with the humble line. I prefer to work from the real flower, weed or leaf, but I am careful to photograph them in case they perish before I have completed my art.

The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals,
Albrecht Durer, woodcut on laid paper, c. 1497
Unless I am creating a commission, I tend to work on several pieces at one time. That way if the detail becomes too overwhelming in one, I turn to another with a different set of challenges. I have worked on boards as small as 4”x4” all the way to 30”x50”. The smaller boards go everywhere with me, I never know when I am going to be inspired! I haven’t tackled my most recent order yet, a 20”x20” Scratchbord on one side and an Aquabord on the other of a 6’ deep wooden box. 

My art has been compared to various famous artists who were also consumed with creating values and textures through line.

Scratchbord has introduced me to so many fascinating collectors from as far away as New Zealand. Being a juried artist with the Illinois Artisans program led me to a recent invitation to display my art from September 2013 through March 2014 at the Daley Centers’ Cook County Law Library in Chicago. I was awarded an Artists Residency at the Merchandise Mart from 2010-2012 through Tony Karman, (expochicago) and the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. I am a featured artist with Dick Blick and Ampersand Art and have had multiple honors through group and solo exhibitions. My current solo exhibition, Just Scratching the Surface was supposed to end at the end of September 2013 but has been extended. 

Additionally, I offer demonstrations and workshops throughout the area. Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago purchased some of my art a few years ago. They now arrange for me and other artists to display our art and create together with cancer patients and others with chronic diseases. It is interesting to see how hesitant people are initially with the Scratchboards. They worry about making a mistake; I always tell them that anything goes. After a while they are transported through the details and forget about their troubles for a while, just like me.

Some different uses of my artwork include my art appearing on Argentina’s Encendido’s Wine Labels, and the upcoming gift set of New York Times' bestseller Colum McCann’s book,Transatlantic. 67

Argentina's Encendido's Wine Labels
In addition to reviews with the Examiner, Fear No Art and several other publications, host Enid Silverman interviewed me for Cable TV show, Artist to Artist in November 2012.

I count my association with Manhattan Arts International as one of my most rewarding experiences. I applied to “Celebrate the Healing Power of ART” because I love to connect with other people committed to the spiritual side of art. I was honored to learn that I was the winner of three awards, an Award of Excellence, the Jill Connor Critic’s Choice Award and the Ampersand Art Materials Award.

'Lisa Goesling’s floral etching on Scratchboard reaches into the dark abyss of space while defining the depth parameters with lyrical petals and foliage seen on iris blossoms. “Inside of an Iris” is a dissection of the various surfaces that piece together this multi-layered flower. By approaching her subjects on different visual levels, as seen here, Goesling commits to gray-scale bringing the viewer into the subtle tones of layers. Blossoms and stems unwind in a circular pattern as if arranged upon a flat surface. Yet Goesling’s use of lyricism in line suggests a series of per formative moments that spin boundlessly.'  -Jill Conner, New York Editor of Whitehot Magazine as well as Editor of On-Verge/Alternative Art Criticism, collaboration between the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and CUE Art Foundation. She is a contributor to Afterimage, ArtUS, and Art in America, Interview Magazine, Performance Art Journal and Sculpture Magazine. She has provided editorial assistance to Dorothea Rockburne."

More Insights from the World of Scratchbords will be featured in upcoming blog posts.
More of Lisa's work and blog:

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Working with Oils on Gessobord by Jennifer Philips

Starting Point, mixed media on Gessobord
Seattle artist, Jennifer Phillips, demonstrates her layering technique on Gessobord, using oil paints and oil bars.  

I am always looking for ways to create subtle contrast between hard and soft edges in my work. While using a brush to create some of the softer applications of paint, I often use other tools like palette knives, needle tools, and oil bars to create my heavier textures. These materials work best on a firm support, therefore choosing the right substrate to paint on is very important. Unlike canvas, which can be flexible, Gessobord™ from Ampersand provides me with a strong rigid support that withstands a heavier hand and meets the demands of oil bars, palette knives, and texturing mediums. The surface also allows me to work in thinner washes and with soft blended brush strokes. The 2” Deep Cradle Gessobord, with its attractive wood sides, is gallery ready to hang and does not require framing, giving it a modern look when hanging on the wall. 
Raw Umber oil bar to develop trees

Using a rag to wipe out shapes at the base of trees.
To begin this painting, I prepared a 16x20 Deep Cradle Gessobord by first taping off the natural wood edges with painters tape to keep the area clean. Using a palette knife, I applied a combination of Golden’s Molding Paste and Crackle Paste to the lower half of the board to give texture to the grassy field area. After it dried, I sealed it with Golden Soft Gel Medium and then gave the whole surface a layer of Daniel Smith Venetian Red Gesso. Portions of the red color peak through the final layers of my painting and unify the color palette. I then sketched in the composition using a dark brown Conte pencil. 

I developed the initial stages of the painting using a mixture of oil bar colors and a low toxicity mineral spirit called Daniel Smith Sol. I spread a wash of the spirits over the surface and then used a raw umber and burnt sienna oil bar to develop the tree forms (A). While the surface was still wet, I used a rag to wipe out shapes along the base of the trees to show soft light coming through (B). 

Zinc white with Hansa yellow and ochre for sky
Reapplied oil bar with palette knife
Next, I used a variety of oil colors to blend in the sky and to create the soft edges of the tree tops (C). For the sky, I used a mixture of zinc white with hansa and yellow ochre for the warmer areas and raw umber for the cooler areas. I used mixtures of olive green and raw umber to create the trees in the distance, and then began to lay in the rich yellows of the distant field. At this point, I began defining the areas of light at the base of the trees using a mixture of hansa and yellow ochre, zinc white and a little raw umber. This was when I started refining the shapes and creating hard edge contrast. I did this by scraping paint away with a needle tool, drawing back into the surface to create a suggestion of branches. Then I went back and added delicate colored lines with a #4 script brush. 

Working dark to light, I focused on laying down initial layers of raw umber oil bar in the foreground and then, using a heavy hand, scumbling across the surface in a horizontal linear pattern with raw sienna oil bar. Subsequent colors of oil bar were used to build up the color and surface of the field. They were heavily applied to the surface, scraped away, and then reapplied using a palette knife (D). 

To finish, I used a #12 fan bristle brush to blend the trees and parts of the foreground. Once the painting was dry to the touch, I used a damar retouch spray to unify the surface of the painting. This varnish will allow the painting to continue drying until a final varnish is applied. I removed the tape that was protecting the sides of the Gessobord panel and my painting is now ready to hang! 

To learn more about artist Jennifer Phillips, visit

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.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Replica of self"

"Replica of self", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Watercolor on Aquabord, 12" x 12" work by Ali Cavanaugh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Viral A-17"

"Viral A-17", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Acrylic and gel medium on Claybord, 46" x 60", 2007 work by Chris Kahler.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Meditation 28"

"Meditation 28", originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil on Gessobord, 42" x 42", 2006 work by Roi James.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Featured Artist: Ian Bodnaryk

Salama, 11" x 14", acrylic
"I have found that Ampersand panels are unmatched and provide the ideal painting substrate for my high detailed work.  I previously made my own panels, but found that I could rarely get a flawless surface.  With Ampersand Museum Series panels, I receive an ideal texture with little to no fuss."  ~Ian Bodnaryk

Inquisition, 15" x 20", acrylic
Canadian artist, Ian Bodnaryk has been working in acrylics for more than 20 years, and it is evident, from the scrupulous detail in his work and the careful planning of the design, that each piece is constructed with skillful precision and thoughtfulness. Ian began his career in realism, enjoying the natural beauty in an object, even if one might find the subject ordinary or mundane. "I love the challenge of turning objects around my home into dramatic icons, while retaining the simplicity or humor of the subject," he explains.

Choosing to work in acrylics was natural for Ian, as he learned how to paint and found his style with them, gathering along the way that they achieve the results he needs.  With the quick drying time, Ian can focus on one piece at a time, his working preference.  For a time, Ian made his own panels, but struggled to get a flawless surface. Considering the reviews of fellow Scratchbord artists, Ian decided to try Ampersand's panels. He found that the high quality met his needs without much preparation. 
The Contemplation of Daniel, 20" x 16", acrylic,
Kingston Prize Finalist

Ian explains his process using Hardbord™, the unprimed, museum quality board Ampersand sells. "When using unprimed Hardbord, I will first seal the surface with two coats of GAC100. After an appropriate amount of drying time, I begin the priming process. I normally thin the gesso by about 20%.  I apply the gesso with a 2" hake brush using criss-cross brush strokes. After each coat is applied, I will use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.  Once the gesso is dry and cool, I will sand the surface using a 200 grit sanding block to eliminate all the brush marks. This process is repeated 6 to 8 times. The last two coats, I will normally tint the gesso with my background color. When using a board that is not cradled, I will apply several coats to the back of the panel to eliminate any warping." After completing a painting, Ian does varnish with a spray varnish, he shares, "Varnishing is the key to maintain the life, vibrancy, and safety of your piece."

Earlier this year, Ian became one of 30 finalists of the Kingston Prize, a biennial national competition for contemporary portraits by Canadian artists.  To see Ian's work in person, you can visit The Art Gallery of Calgary in Alberta, Canada where his work as part of the Kingston Prize exhibit will be on display through January 25, 2014.

To view more of Ian's work online, you can visit his website at: or find him on Facebook:

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.