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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Effects of Deep Cradled Panels

Artist Rebecca Crowell shares her insights into the process of using multiples, originally printed in 2005.

"In the past few years I have been using multiple Ampersand 2˝ Deep Cradled Gessobord™ panels fastened together to achieve visual contrast in my work. I love the way the geometric shape of the panels adds structure to what is otherwise very flowing organic imagery. 

Various configurations of panels have also suggested new formats for my work beyond traditional squares and rectangles. Some of my multiple panel paintings are strongly vertical or horizontal, or have an irregular shape overall. I generally start a painting by movingindividually painted panels into various configurations on my studio wall.

I always have more than one painting in progress, so there are many possibilities in play.  At this stage, I rely heavily on intuition, moving the panels around until something strikes me as evocative and provides guidance for finishing the piece. I gravitate toward imagery that suggests places or situations in the landscape, as well as emotions, memories or states of mind.  At other times I begin my compositions with a particular format in mind. For example, I am very attracted to the strong vertical format and have used it in an extended series, but beyond these basic starting points I let the process of discovery take over. I approach every panel as if it is an individual painting, in terms of its composition and its level of development--and indeed, some panels do remain single, not part of a larger arrangement. My painting process involves building up layers of color and texture with oil paint, oil sticks, wax medium and a variety of tools.

When I have decided on a final arrangement, I have the panels mounted together by a woodworker with bolts through the cradles or with boards screwed on the back. The quality and durability of the wood materials used in the Ampersand Gessobord lends itself to this level of carpentry without affecting the stability of the panels.
Rebecca's tools

I generally begin with one main color over most of the surface. Then as I layer the paint, I alternate between contrasting colors, dark and light, transparent and opaque. Texture results from a range of techniques, many carried over from my college days as a printmaker. These include the use of brayers, linoleum blocks, drawing tools, and natural objects that are pressed into the paint.
Studio wall

Scratching, gouging and judicious use of solvents reveal bits of the underlying layers. I am aiming for a surface that appears organic, with complexity and a sense of depth. I have found that Ampersand Gessobord is tough enough to take this rather strenuous application of paint. Because it is sturdy and rigid, I can apply plenty of pressure, and the surface of the panel remains intact no matter how much it is worked. Gessobord’s smooth, even surface is important to me because it never interferes with the appearance of the textures I create.
I have a fairly minimalist aesthetic, and appreciate subtlety. I analyze and edit as much as I actually paint, deciding what is needed and what has to go. How do I know when a painting is finished? For me there is a sense the painting is mysteriously itself, individual, as if it could be no other way.

Rebecca Crowell lives and works in rural Wisconsin, surrounded by woods and fields that inspire her nature-based imagery. Her work is exhibited regularly both regionally and nationally, and is included in many public, private and corporate collections.
For more information, please 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, August 29, 2013

"Matriarch's Mob"

Matriarch's Mob, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Mixed media work on Gessobord by Larry Ayer. More art from Larry at

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Woman from Buccino, Italy"

16" x 20", oil on Gessobord work by Mark Battista.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Sycamore Flame"

Sycamore Flame, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil on Gessobord work by David Camp, 12" x 12". To see more of his work,

Monday, August 26, 2013


Califas, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

House of Kolor paint on Claybord by Kris Dryden, 16" x 20".

Friday, August 23, 2013

Painting on Panel: Support Induced Discoloration

You may have heard the term "Support Induced Discoloration" or SID in relation to sealing panels or even gessoing a canvas.  And SID is the one reason that Ampersand encourages sealing panels before priming, but what does it really mean and how does it effect art long term?

Support Induced Discoloration is a relatively new concept to the art world, new because acrylic dispersion paints are new.  Support Induced Discoloration occurs when acrylic paints change color due to pulling up toxins or residue in the substrate.  The fluids in the paint leach into the substrate, through the primer and pull up the residue, leaving behind particulate in the paint that discolors it.  This is most apparent in transparent gels and mediums but also occurs to pigmented paint.  Gesso or primer is not sufficient in preventing discoloration, so sealing or sizing is always recommended.  

You can prevent SID from affecting your own work by properly sealing wood panels before use.  For more information on Sealing (or sizing) panels, refer to our previous post:
Painting on panel sizing.  OR, You can purchase one of Ampersand's already sealed and primed panels, such as Gessobord™, Encausticbord™, Claybord™, Aquabord™ or Scratchbord™.  All of these panels have been sealed with Ampersand's Archiva-Seal™ technology.

In the early 1990's, Golden Artist Colors did some significant research with Buffalo State College to discover support induced discoloration and test the degrees of discoloration on different supports, with different acrylic mediums and primers.  The results from these experiments led to what we know today about SID.  

"SID contamination often goes undetected. In most cases, the paints applied contain a sufficient level of pigment, thus a strong enough color, to conceal the yellowing. However, in a transparent glaze and especially in thick translucent gel layers, SID becomes quite noticeable. SID can transform the appearance of an Ultramarine Blue glaze into a lower chroma, greenish color. Gesso alone will not stop SID, and different gels and mediums have varying degrees of blocking capabilities. The best product Golden Artist Colors produces to prevent SID is GAC 100. This thin medium works best when 2 or more coats are applied directly into the support. Once dry, the canvas can then be primed and subsequently painted with less potential for discoloration. Pre-primed canvases can be sealed with GAC 100 as well. Apply one or two coats onto the surface, and follow with at least one coat of gesso to regain tooth if needed." -- From the GAC website

Golden has neatly packaged the effects of SID on a masonite panel below in video format.  You can see for yourself in a few minutes how drastically a piece of art can change in a matter of weeks if the work is not sealed properly.

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, August 22, 2013


Surveillance, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Work by Robert Forman, a string collage on Claybord, 45"x18". More of his work can be found on

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Moire, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil and graphite on Hardbord, work by Rhonda Gates, 16" x 20", 2013.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Lunch at Fanizzis"

Lunch at Fanizzis, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Oil on Gessobord work by Ann Gorbett, 24" x 24". To see more of Ann's work, log on to

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Sepia 3"

Sepia 3, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Work by Janel Hart-Eleftherakis, oil on Gessobord, 30"x 30". To see more of her work, you can find Janel at

Friday, August 16, 2013

Featured Project: Deena Ball

Pennsylvania artist, Deena Ball is both a full time artist and an art teacher in the North Philadelphia school system for the underserved.  She also teaches her own adult and children's workshops.  Recently, she took her teaching to a much larger scale and applied for the artist in residency program at Erdenheim Elementary school.  Not the typical residency, Deena had to apply with a project laid out to create and display the art of the student body.  She found a creative way to limit the budget and display all 692 works of art in the school hallways for permanent display -- by using Aquabord™.

The school had originally planned to collage some of the work and frame it under glass.  But Deena wanted to show every student's work, and have every student complete their own piece so they would have some ownership.  She knew of Aquabord and had used Claybord in some in her own work, enjoying the contrast of the smooth surface with the acrylic gels she uses in her painting.  It was a logical choice to purchase cradled pieces so there would be no need for framing and cut down the cost.  

When Deena showed up for the beginning of the residency, the students had completed their simple line drawings and then the process with her began.  The students transferred the works to the boards, and then used acrylic gel and acrylic gesso to create layers of texture, hills and valleys.  Since the texture needed a bit of drying time, Deena had some volunteers take the pieces away to blow dry them.  While the texture was drying, she spoke to the students about watercolor paints and how to use them.  When their boards came back dry, she showed the students how to apply the paint.  Students used Winsor Newton watercolors and Daniel Smith luminescent paints; some even used watercolor pencils.  The pieces were finished with Lascaux UV finish and hung in series in the school hallways.  

The August 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist magazine shows a step by step tutorial on how Deena completes her paintings, which is the same process she shared with the students.  You can see a video preview of the magazine on the ArtistsNetwork website.

Deena has upcoming workshops listed on her website, and you can see her work in person at the Hardcastle Gallery, Wilmington, DE, the Earth Wood & Fire Gallery in NewTown Square, PA, and the Frame Station Gallery in Berwyn, PA.  

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, August 15, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"September Morning"

September Morning, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Soft pastels on Pastelbord, 24" x 26", work by Steve Miller. To see more of his work, tune in to his website:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Painting on Panel: Acrylic Priming

We have reviewed how to size and seal wood and how to prime it with oil primer.  Some of you may prefer to use an acrylic primer, or an acrylic dispersion ground for you work.  Our best recommendations for the process are below.  

Golden® brand acrylic gesso is our first recommendation.  However, these instructions are virtually interchangeable with a number of other brands if there’s one you like better or have more readily available. Gesso is a flexible liquid ground that seals, protects, and gives "tooth" to wood panels, which promotes good paint adhesion. It comes ready-to-use, but can be mixed with water for thinner applications. Golden® Gesso is available in Black or White, and can be mixed with Golden® Acrylics to produce a range of colored grounds. Gesso can be applied with a brush, roller, putty knife, Catalyst™ wedge #W-06 or sprayed on. Dilution of the Gesso is only necessary for spray application, but may be desired for brush or roller applications as well. When diluting with water, use a maximum dilution of 25%. Any mixture within this range offers little risk of cracking or other adverse effects.

Step 1 – Size and seal the wood
A size is a thin solution (often a weak glue) that is brushed directly onto a support. Sizing or sealing is recommended to protect Ampersand’s uncoated panels from support-induced discoloration when using acrylic gesso. If wood is not sized or sealed properly before applying the gesso, yellowing can occur because water [a solvent] can cause acids, occurring naturally in wood, to migrate to the surface. In fact, it is extremely important to properly seal any and all un-primed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration that can cause your paint film to yellow over time. Hardbord™ is manufactured using Aspen fibers, a wood with a very low acid content, but still needs to be sized and sealed. The Natural Wood Panel™ and Unprimed Basswood panels are made with a thick basswood plywood top that has been sanded ultra-smooth. They are both seamless and knot-free and provide a perfectly smooth and uniform painting finish. When you size and gesso the basswood surface, you won’t experience the raised wood grain fibers that can happen with some other rougher types of plywood; the surface stays nice and smooth. The basswood panels have solid wood cradles and braces that may be more susceptible to moisture and environmental changes than the birch plywood cradles we use on the Hardbord™. Therefore, Ampersand recommends that you prime both the front and back of the Basswood top to ensure long-term stability of the panel.

The best products we have found to seal wood are Golden®GAC100 [2 coats]  and Gamblin® PVA Size [4 coats].

Apply Golden® GAC100 directly to the basswood or hardboard surface with a 2" paintbrush or putty knife. Apply to the front and back if applicable. Allow the GAC100 to dry completely and follow with an additional coat. Do not sand between layers. Before applying oil primer or the painting ground, allow the GAC100 to dry for 1-3 days so that the sealer can coalesce into a uniform film for maximum protection. If you’re using Gamblin® PVA Size, use 4 coats and follow the same application instructions as for the GAC100.

Step 2 – Protect and prepare the cradle
Hardbord™ is available in either a flat 1/8" panel, with a 3/4" cradle, or with the 2" DEEP cradle. The Natural Wood and Unprimed Basswood panels are available in both a 7/8" cradle and 1.5" cradle profile. You have the choice of painting all the way around the cradle or leaving the natural wood showing for framing purposes. Be sure to size and seal the bare wood if you want to paint completely around the edges of the cradle. Or, to protect the wood from paint and gesso, cover the sides of the panel with painter’s tape up to the edge of the surface. Do not remove the tape until the painting is finished. Painter’s tape does not leave a sticky residue like many household masking tapes that can be difficult to remove, and will leave a pristine surface underneath when the painting is complete. For instructions on different ways to prepare your cradles for presentation, consult this article:

Step 3 – Apply the Acrylic Gesso
Thin the gesso with up to 25% water for the first coat so that it will flow more evenly on the [sized] panel. Use a 2"-3" brush for the first coat and a foam roller for subsequent coats. Begin by working the gesso back and forth with the brush in one direction and then in a cross direction with a little pressure so that the gesso penetrates the panel better. Apply gesso to the side edges of the panel and the plywood cradle if applicable. Don’t forget to seal the cradle with Golden® GAC100 first if you are going to gesso the edges for painting. The basswood panels have solid wood cradles and braces that may be more susceptible to moisture and environmental changes than the birch plywood cradles we use on the Hardbord™. Therefore, Ampersand recommends that you gesso both the front and back of the basswood top to ensure long-term stability of the panel. Allow the front of the basswood to dry completely, then, gesso the reverse side.

Step 4 – To Finish
After the first coat of gesso is dry, smooth out any rough spots with light grade sandpaper. Apply a second coat of gesso with the foam roller (or brush). Allow it to dry and then sand again. For best results, apply a minimum of 2 coats of gesso and sand in-between. Subsequent layers of gesso will produce an even smoother painting surface. For spray-application, you may have to apply more than 2 coats to achieve a film similar to a brush application. For basswood panels, follow the same instructions, but also prime the back. For each additional coat to the panel face, apply the same number of applications to the panel back.

The fall sale is on!  Hardbord, Gessobord, Claybord, Encausticbord and all Artist Panels are all on sale, 20% to 60% off at a dealer near you!

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, August 8, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Outback, originally uploaded by Ampersand Art Supply.

Encaustic work on Encausticbord, 12" x 12" by Robin Samiljan.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Featured Artist: Ginger Gehres

North Carolina artist, Ginger Gehres, was one of our three artists back in the spring that won our "Share your Studio" contest.  With such a strong affection for Ampersand panels and a wide range of experience in art, it was an easy choice to support her work here on our blog.

Ginger's life long affair with art is truly life-long.  "I never knew I wasn’t an artist. One of my Grandmothers was a fine artist, the other was an excellent sewer, my Dad built homes and my Mom could paint, but preferred artisanal craft work and she was a professional dancer at one time. Creativity was the norm in our home," she explains.  It isn't that Ginger hasn't taken the time to hone her talent with the study from professionals, but she did get a jump start on her learning with an internationally recognized artist grandmother, Twyla Rose.  
Ampersand panels came into Ginger's life relatively recently when she found them at a local Jerry's Artarama.  She liked working on the hard surface with acrylics, and appreciated their durability.  "In November of 2011, Susie Willis, a friend and fellow artist, ask me to come with her to Art of the Carolinas sponsored by Jerry's.  I'd never been and was overjoyed when I saw the Ampersand booth," she explains.  Along with other art material manufacturers, Ampersand was there selling panels and demonstrating how to work on them.  "I was stocking up on boards when I saw a striking flower on a black background as a display piece. I had no clue it would change my whole perspective on art. I was told that it was “scratchboard” and Dana, one of Ampersand’s very fine folks, explained how it was done.  I tried out the giraffe in Sally Maxwell’s book, got hooked and never turned back!"

Ginger primarily works in Scratchbord and Claybord with acrylic, always doing more than one project at a time.  Her studio is laid out so that she can work on tables or an easel, with a dog or two nearby.  Her subject matter is simply a matter of what comes to her, what subjects draw her in emotionally.  Her new challenges are working on textures in the Scratchbord, fur, skin, scales, metal or rust.  "I found a toad in a nursery a few years ago and my husband discovered me on the ground, taking it's picture.  Thankfully, he's not easily embarrassed and I was able to do a scratchboard piece that had warts," says Ginger.

Ginger just finished the June show in Vancouver for The International Society of Scratchbord Artists where she had three pieces juried in, and she is the current exhibition director where she'll be heavily involved in the annual juried show in 2014 in Cary, NC.  You can find Ginger online, she is part of the Scratchbord Group on Facebook, has her own page and website where you can see more of her work, graphic design and illustration. 

Our fall sales event is starting soon, 20-50% off on Claybord, Gessobord, Hardbord, Encausticbord and The Artist Panel at select dealers.

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.