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Friday, May 24, 2013

Featured Artist: Lisa Goesling

Marigold, 12" x 12"
"While I have been painting and drawing for over forty years, I began working with Scratchbord by Ampersand in 2006.  That's when I learned I had cancer.  Choosing something beautiful to become absorbed in and concentrating on the details, proved to be the perfect way to deal with my cancer diagnosis.  The idea that adversity teaches us to turn the negative into a positive is a great analogy for transforming these black boards into thriving works of art."  ~Lisa Goesling

Composition of a Coleus, 12" x 12"
Chicago artist, Lisa Goesling has had a full life as an artist and sculptor.  As a young child, when her friends were out selling lemonade, she was selling homemade coloring books.  Lisa began her formal training at the age of 12, taking classes at the Art Institute every weekend and then studying Art and Design in college.  The combination of her studies in sculpture, art history and drawing are fully realized in her work on Scratchbord™, as each detailed subject is pulled out of the flat surface of the Scratchbord, elegantly emanating life.  
Full Orchid, 19"x 21"

Even though Lisa's life has been full of creating art, she came to Scratchbord fairly recently, in 2006.  Like with many other things in her art, Lisa jumped in with both feet.  "A fellow artist was using the boards at the time.  I went to Dick Blick's and found a whole display devoted to Scratchbord and picked up a little bit of everything," she explains.  Since the Scratchbord is non-toxic and portable, she can work anywhere and easily without toting extra supplies or concern for the harmful effects of solvents.  "I have tried other scratchboard methods; Scratchbord™ by Ampersand is far superior to anything else I've used.  The rich blacks, the contrast, the ability to add color easily, the crisp lines, are all good reasons to go with the best."  Lisa finishes her work with a Krylon fixative, either matte or gloss depending on what she is looking for in the final piece.  Currently, she uses a simple black frame with a white mat, covered in glass; however, Lisa is working to find a process to display her pieces without glass.  
Queen Anne's Lace, 8" x 8"

Lisa has sound and simple advice for beginners on scratch art:  "Find your own style."  She explains, "The basis for scratchboard art is the humble line.  What you do with that line is up to you.  I have seen exciting abstract work, realistic animal drawings and beautiful landscapes created on scratchboard.  Having a good foundation in drawing will make the medium easier to navigate, but Scratchboards are a universal art form.  I work with all ages and ability levels with these boards.  The key is to have the courage to dive in and go for it.  Put aside your fears and just make your first mark, without worrying about making a mistake. I do a lot of workshops with cancer patients and others with chronic diseases.  They are dealing with far worse issues than worrying about their art.  There is a sense of freedom from failing, something that I try to impart on anyone creating art."

Recently, Ampersand proudly sponsored an award for Manhattan Arts International's online exhibit  "Celebrate the Healing Power of Art".  Manhattan Arts International received more than 1,000 image entries from artists around the world for this juried competition. Lisa Goesling's art was selected among the top 9 winners, to receive an Award of Excellence, a Jill Conner Critic's Choice Award, and the Ampersand Art award. Renee Phillips, director, who served as one of the jurors states, "Lisa Goesling's art was selected for its exceptional technical skill, originality, and art that identified with the message and theme of the exhibition – the healing power of art."

Lisa was recently the featured artist guest on Artist to Artist with Enid Silverman.  You can see the interview below as Lisa shares her work and gives a demonstration on how to work on Scratchbord.

Scratchbord, Pastelbord, Aquabord and the Artist Panel are all on sale

To see more of Lisa's work and follow her shows and awards, check out her blog:

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, May 17, 2013

Painting on Panel: Solid Wood versus Manufactured Wood Panels

Madonna and Child with Angels, Ferrarese, c. 1455, tempera on panel
Historically, rigid supports were used long before the adoption of flexible fabric supports. Most of the earliest icons still in tact from the 2nd and 3rd century are on wood panels. During the Renaissance a large portion of the paintings were also on solid wood panels. Italian painters were known to use poplar, while their Northern counterparts were using oak (later they would move on to mahogany). The wood was first dried well and sanded very smooth. It was then covered with a layer of liquid gesso made by mixing gypsum (a white chalk pounded into powder), with glue made from animal skins. Then, the wood panels were sanded and burnished until they were smooth, and ready for painting. The fact that we still have so many of these paintings with us today is proof that a properly primed and maintained panel withstands the test of time. 

Traditionally solid wood panels were used in the Renaissance and continue to be used by some artists today. There is a great variety of solid wood panels, so it is important to choose one that is rigid, has a uniform grain, and has a low acidity. Avoid painting on softwoods or semi hardwoods such as pine or poplar. These woods are more porous, making them more susceptible to warping, and also have a higher acid content. Due to the potential for warping, a solid wood panel should be at least 1″ thick. It is also important to note how the panel is cut. A radially cut panel will have the grain running perpendicular to the face of the panel, and thus will be more stable than the more common tangentially cut panels, whose cut along the grain will tend to cause warping or twisting over time. In addition, solid panels cannot be braced (cradled) on their back. Due to the varying rates of expansion and contraction across a panel, a rigid bracing would actually cause the panel to buckle and bow in order to constrain to the bracing system.

While the original panel paintings were all made on solid wood panels, there are many more options available for artists today. Technology has created numerous types of manufactured panels, engineering them to have very specific attributes, and eliminating some of the original weaknesses in solid wood panels. A solid panel still has all the original cellular structure of the tree from which it was made. This structure is susceptible to expansion and contraction as the wood is exposed to different climatic and environmental changes. For example, over time wood can warp or split moving from wet to dry climates. Manufactured panels in contrast, break down the cellular structure of the wood, enabling a more uniform, stronger, and stable panel that can weigh less.

Unlike the masters of the past, the modern painter has numerous choices available when it comes to choosing a panel for painting. Four of the main factors to consider are a panel’s:
1.    Density: The denser a panel, the less moisture it will absorb, making it less likely to warp. It is also easier to prime because the wood will not absorb the primer as quickly, reducing the amount of layers needed to seal and coat a panel.
2.    Grain: If a wood has a heavy grain, it will require more layers of gesso to ensure that the grain does not come through the coating. Also, within the same type of wood there can be great variations in density along the lines of the grain. Woods can grow more or less dense with varying temperatures through the year, or even in ‘stressful times’ such as drought, and this varying density can cause warps or cracks along the lines of the grain.
3.    Acidic Content: Considering the acidic content of the panel is important in order to avoid SID (Support Induced Discoloration – or yellowing). Softwoods or semi hardwoods, such as pine or poplar, generally have a higher acid content, and are more prone to causing SID through leaching. Hardwoods generally have a lower acidity, though we’ll see there are exceptions to this rule. It is best to do some research to determine what is the acidic content of the wood you are using before beginning to prime a panel.
4.  Type of Engineered Wood:   While engineered wood such as hardboard, plywood, and MDF can offer substantially better dimensional stability over solid wood panels for artists, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each of these surfaces and how different panels are braced.  In upcoming blogs we will discuss these differences and the differences in the materials used to brace panels.

There is a lot more to come on this topic, so stay tuned for more in the series:  Painting on Panel.

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, May 10, 2013

Colored Pencil on Pastelbord™

"Pastelbord™ has become my surface of choice for colored pencil. The consistently even sanded surface holds so many layers of color! I’ve come to rely on the sturdiness of the board—no more worries about tearing or creasing paper. Finally, having the option of varnishing my finished work, and framing without matting or glass is a huge bonus." ~Liz Patterson

  1. I begin with a simple line drawing to establish the basic shapes of the composition on the Pastelbord™. I try to use a color that is close to that of each of the objects.
  2. I block in the very lightest areas with white, then continue blocking in colors: lights, brights, darks, and any geometric designs such as the checkered cloth. I often start off with color that is quite a bit brighter, or deeper than what the final desired appearance will be, keeping in mind how I might want the successive layers to interact with it.
  3. I continue layering color, moving around the composition, occasionally changing my focus: hue, value, form, intensity, and finishing up with small details and the refining of edges. Applying a workable matte fixative spray a few times while working allows me to put down more layers of colored pencil. The variations that come and go in this layering are many and it’s the little hints of these, peeking out here and there on the sand colored Pastelbord’s textured surface, that give an energy and vitality that I love.
  4. When the work is complete, some of the surface is thickly covered with colored pencil almost to a paint-like finish, while other areas allow more of the board’s texture and even bits of its original sand color to show. I like this “selective focus” effect resulting in the eye being drawn to the most refined areas in the drawing. To finish, I prefer to varnish my drawings, but this is optional. See how-to varnish colored pencils below.
How-to varnish colored pencils
Use five coats of gloss Prismacolor® Final Fixative allowing 15 mins. between coats. Let dry overnight. Then, varnish with three coats of Golden® Polymer gloss Varnish thinned 2 parts varnish to 1 part water. Apply using a soft wide brush; allow three hours between coats. After one week, frame without glass.

To see more of Liz's work and process, follow her blog:

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, May 2, 2013

Featured Artist: Lorna Wagner Hannett

Great Egret, 2013 for the ISSA show
"I have always had a fascination for the beauty of nature and its many moods and elements. Living in a rural setting, I am surrounded and inspired every day, in all seasons. I also love to study people, adults and children alike, and try to capture each individual’s expressive nature in the portraits I do. I feel privileged to be able to express my love of nature and people through my art work and hope in some small measure that it will bring a certain amount of pleasure to those who view it." ~Lorna Hannett

Mr. Forbes, 8"x10"
Canadian artist Lorna Hannett has always had an interest and natural talent for drawing, but it was around age 50 when she took her art seriously.  Self taught painter in acrylics and watercolors, Lorna discovered scratch art through WetCanvas! in 2003 and came upon Ampersand Scratchboard™ at the same time.  Lorna shares, "I bought a small board and tool and tried it out. It was love at first board. It immediately appealed to my love of light and detail. I did several boards, mostly wildlife and then entered the North Light Books Cover Competition with my first scratch portrait called “Joseph” and to my great amazement, I won first place. That was in March 2004 and I knew I had found my niche. I now also work on Claybord, and lately I have been doing some of the Ampersand Claybord boxes, which I also enjoy."

Besides Lorna's extensive portfolio, which you can see in the Scratchbord Facebook Group or on her personal website, Lorna also teaches workshops and is the president of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists.  

String of Pearls, 8" x 10"
She does most of her own photography for her work as well, so Lorna's inspiration and eye for design is just as stunning as her work.  Her courage and passion for working in scratch art is evident in her pieces, but is also a strong principle taught to her students.  "I often teach workshops and the first thing I tell the students is not to be afraid of making that first scratch. . . keep that first board as a test piece and try out everything on it," she explains.  She also encourages students to find subject matter that is meaningful to them, use a light hand and build up in layers to the lightest value.  Not to mention, "always use the best support and that, of course, is Ampersand.  Above all else have fun with it!"

The International Society of Scratchboard Artists was a special project for Lorna, as she and four other scratch artists came together to start the society for bringing awareness to the medium.  The second annual juried exhibition will open in a few weeks with more details on the website about membership, workshops and events.  You can also see more of Lorna's work in person at the show; the International Society of Scratchboard Artists Annual Exhibition will be opening on June 4th at the Federation of Canadian Artists on Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.  For more updates on Lorna's exhibitions and more galleries of her artwork, you can visit her website:

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.