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Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Contest Winners and Prizes!

Our Spring Contest is over and the winners were announced yesterday!  Congrats to all who won and thank you to all who were able to participate.  It was an interesting opener to more contests running on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for our Ampersand online fans.  So if you haven't yet joined us on the social media platforms, come follow us for more information and tidbits throughout the year.  I usually share events, workshops and more cool artists through all the platforms.  I might even throw in a few new videos this year, so stay tuned.
Kat Moore's studio where she does Scratchbord work of pups

As far as our contest goes, it was really fun to see what your studios look like and what size panels you're using and where you put them!  Thank you for posting!

For those of you who didn't read the contest guidelines. .  . .just a summary:  Contestants entered a photo of their studio with their Ampersand panels to be eligible.   One winner was chosen who had the most votes for their photo and the other chosen by Ampersand staff.  Three more submissions were chosen to be featured in our blog with their art and process.  

Elaine Bagwell's studio in an upcycled mobile home
Congrats first to Kat Moore for the most votes for her photo.   Thanks to all who were able to vote and like their friends submissions.  

Also congrats to Elaine Bagwell for her studio shot which has actual Ampersand shelving.  So fun!  

Both of you ladies will win panels in the surface of your choice.  4 - 12" x 12", 3/4" depth panels.  I will be getting in touch with you via email.

Next, our three winners chosen to be featured in our blog are Valerie Allen, Ginger Gehres and Jonathan Webb.  I will also get in touch with you via email and we'll work from there to feature you in our blog over the summer season, or earlier. ;)

Thank you to all who helped make this first contest a success.  And thank you for your feedback on Facebook to let us know what you thought.  Continue to roll in the comments so we can better tweak these contests towards your interests and art.  

Scratchbord™ and the Artist Panel in canvas texture are both on sale at local retailers, as part of our Spring Sale going on through May.  Aquabord and Pastelbord are also on sale during these weeks.  Stock up while you can!

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.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Understanding Aquabord™

Having a Ball with a Red Lily by Jennifer Redstreake Geary 
Aquabord™ is a clay coated hardboard panel that gives watercolorists unprecedented freedom and control. Comparable to watercolor paper, this multimedia panel simulates the absorbency and texture of cold pressed paper but allows color to be lifted back to white easily while also leaving the richest, most vibrant color possible. 

What sets Aquabord apart from watercolor paper?

❖ Watercolors and gouache, when used on Aquabord, are richer and more vibrant than when used on paper. 

❖ Aquabord is also very forgiving. If you make a mistake - just wash it off! 

❖ The surface is pH neutral and acid free and when sealed, it will last forever.

❖ Don't worry about lint residue, torn paper, or using masking fluid because Aquabord is very forgiving and durable and will hold up to repeated wetting and scraping.

❖ You can even add fine lines and details with a scratch knife or other Claybord Tools which will bring back the white of the board.

❖ To create natural looking highlights and bring the light back into your painting, use a wet sponge, cotton swabs, white erasers or a clean brush to lift and remove colors with ease. 

❖ Paint as heavily as desired because Aquabord won't warp, crack, or bend like paper when using heavy paint applications.   

How to Begin:
A Bunch of Gourds by Jennifer Redstreake Geary
This museum quality panel has a soft, absorbent, mineral coating with a unique granular texture. You may notice small "pin-like" protrusions once you lay down your washes and you will also see tiny bubbles forming on the surface. This is normal. We recommend “flushing out” Aquabord before beginning your painting by simply applying an even wash of water with a large brush over the entire surface. Let the air escape. Once the board is back to a damp stage, you can begin working on it. Beginning with this method will result in a more even wash. The sponge-like granules absorb the water and pigment allowing incredible control over color and washes. The surface's clay-base holds colors in suspension, allowing them to flow into each other to create seamless washes when the board is wet or dry. 

How to Seal:  
Seal finished 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. 

Aquabord™, as well as Pastelbord™, Scratchbord and the Artist Panel canvas texture are on sale now at local retailers.  

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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Featured Artist: Claire Kendrick

Orange Lilies, 30" x 30"
Claire Kendrick uses Encausticbord in much of her oil and encaustic work.  She shares with us her reasons for this choice and how she can push the boundaries of her paints because of Encausticbord.

"Using high grade materials is important when selling my fine art paintings. It is archival and that’s important to the artist, dealer and collector! The fact that these panels are made in the USA from sustainable forests make them my preferred choice. It’s also important that the panel is heat resistant as I like to use a blow torch to melt the wax and oil paint, I know that the ground is not only heat resistant it will hold the layers of wax without fear of cracking or separation.

When we think of botanical paintings, traditional, detailed paintings come to mind. This series of paintings shows the delicate, radiant, powerful beauty of plants and flowers in a contemporary style that speaks more about their character than the detail of every palm frond or petal--there is always more than meets the eye.

Florida Style, 30" x 30"
It is my practice to always work with reference. I like to buy fresh flowers and set up the vase of flowers or whatever I’m painting and start with a strong composition. This is always my foundation.  As I begin painting, each brush stroke has to say something.  Putting down a mark and deciding to keep or remove, I try to ask myself if this mark adds something to the painting. The results are dynamic, energetic forms--they show the energy you put into the painting. The still life floral paintings have a life and vitality.

White Love, 30" x 30"
Pushing boundaries, I take the paintings outdoors and use a blow torch to melt wax mixed with oil paint, giving a free-flow effect which I can manipulate or leave.  This is a process of constant editing, painting, taking away then reapplying paint or wax, building the image slowly in layers.  (Claire uses Old Holland Oil Paint and Gamblin mediums, including Neo Megilp and Cold Wax medium.)

You should paint as you live life; expression should be in your work. See the things of beauty you enjoy and fill your life with that energy."

To see more of Claire's work and read her blog, log on to

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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Featured Artist: Donna Slade

Floating on Fence, 18" x 6"
North Carolina artist Donna Slade has a lengthy career as an illustrator and commercial artist, but has settled full time into painting and owning a gallery.  She shares with us her preference for Pastelbord™ and how it has fit into her move from graphite to colored pencil.

"My passion for art has spanned over a 30-year award-winning career as a commercial artist,
graphic designer, and illustrator to recently becoming a full time painter and gallery owner. Throughout my career in advertising, I always managed to find time to paint.

Vintage Mix, 18" x 15"
I tried a number of mediums starting with pen and ink and pencil, but grew tired of just the black and white art. In 1990, there was a small group of artists that were working with colored pencil. At the time, there was very little to no information and instruction on using colored pencils. Through this desire and effort to share knowledge of work with colored pencil, the Colored Pencil Society of America was founded. Today it is an international association hosting yearly, juried exhibits and local chapters across the US. I have been hooked on colored pencil ever since. This explosion of color also led me to explore pastel painting. Now I work exclusively in colored pencil and pastel.

A number of years ago my favorite surface for my colored pencil paintings was discontinued. I tried a number of surfaces before I found Ampersand Pastelbord, a clay and gesso coated hardboard panel with a marble dust finish.  The Pastelbord comes in standard sizes but I also have placed orders for specific non-standard sizes as well. It comes in grey, green, sand and white. Most of my paintings are done on the grey, but I have used both the green and sand depending on the subject matter of my painting. The color grain of the board will influence the overall tone of the painting. The color background gives me a good base and saves some time with the colored pencil layering process. The surface allows the right amount of tooth to hold the pencil and pastel but at the same time allows me to put down and build up as many layers as needed. In some cases four to eight layers of color.

My Kiss, 11" x 14"
In addition to being the perfect surface for my colored pencil paintings, the Pastelbord allows me to bypass the perils and cost of framing with mats and glass. Once I finish a colored pencil painting I use a spray varnish, Krylon Crystal Clear Spray, several layers, over the entire painting. In addition to the cost savings the paintings seem more approachable to the viewer allowing them to touch and feel the surface of the piece.

I add color gradually working from dark to light. Layering allows me to build increasingly complex values, hues and textures. Because the pencil color is transparent this layering/blending process allows an endless color palette.  I use a blending process of layering colors and merging them together. I gradually build the  the layers of color using a light to medium pressure which gives me a rich, illusion of depth to my paintings. I keep my pencil extremely sharp at all times and use a mixture of crosshatching, horizontal, diagonal, vertical, or circular strokes.

Maine Stream, 18" x 6"
My paintings are imagined, planned and executed in a representational, realistic style. The paintings are not a photographic moment in time but represent a unique artistic interpretation through observation. I emphasize movement, pattern, light and dark in my paintings. My work is diverse in subject matter, ranging from still life's that take a close-up look at the beauty of ordinary objects, to landscapes that capture the grace and rhythms of nature. I love being involved in the creation of a variety of concepts. I seek to provide a place for the viewer to find curiosity and appreciation for the process of creation."

For more information on Donna Slade's work and accomplishments, visit New Bern ArtWorks & Company Fine Art Gallery or her website at:

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

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