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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gessobord and the Environment: A review from Jivan Lee

Santa Fe artist and environmental consultant, Jivan Lee shared some insightful details with us recently about his experience with Ampersand panels.


Contemplating the Nei Jing, 72" x 72"
"I'm a professional artist with a Master of Science in environmental policy. As an artist, I paint large gestural oil paintings on location using big brushes and palette knives, creating finished works that are thick with impasto and end up somewhere between representational and abstract.  I've had paintings exhibited nationally at museums and educational institutions and been featured in publications such as Plein Air Magazine and Art Business News. As a consultant on environmental issues, I've worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) "greening" sports stadiums and figuring out innovative business-friendly responses to climate change in the West; I've supported local food systems in northern New Mexico and traveled internationally doing the same; and, I've directed a small non-profit program, the Project for Art and the Environment, that works with the Taos Pueblo tribe in Taos, NM." 
A Moments Peace,  20"x 16"

"I choose Ampersand products for their artistic merit. The simple reason is that Gessobord is the best surface I've found, the one most able to meet my needs. Because Gessobord is archival, I trust it to stand the test of time and protect finished works without interrupting their original intent, thereby protecting my collectors' investments. I also trust Ampersand's craftsmanship to reliably produce surfaces that stay stable through the varied weather and climatic conditions that my work faces – be it on-site in blustery northern New Mexico or when shipping works across the country. In terms of performance, I prefer Gessobord's consistent surface response and ability to stand up to my rough application of paint. And the little bit of tooth ensures that my paint adheres to the Gessobord surface but is not interrupted in the middle of long passages or brushstrokes.


Piedra Lumbre, 24" x 36"
Were Ampersand products lower quality, I wouldn't use them. But it is also true that were they not made of Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified materials, I would have been far less likely to give Ampersand a try. FSC is one of the truly reputable organizations overseeing the use of forest-based materials -- according to NRDC, it’s the only credible forestry certification. Seeing Ampersand's sourcing decisions, as well as its more systematic thinking with regard to solvent use and manufacturing processes, helped me gauge whether the company was "green washing" or truly making a genuine effort to reduce its impact. I believe it is the latter. Taking steps toward an improved environmental impact also meant looking for products manufactured closer to home; Ampersand makes its panels here the US. A third criteria was whether a company treated its customers with respect and modeled being a good community member. Every exchange I've had with Ampersand has left me heartened and happy to be using its products – the employees have consistently been friendly, prompt, helpful, and accountable. 

The Magic Sky, sunset, 18" x 24"
I paint because I love this world and want to share its beauty with others. Using products made by people who clearly care about their craft and the world around them is an essential part of my larger philosophy of positive change. And so wherever possible I choose Ampersand for my painting surfaces."

Thank you Jivan.   To see more of Jivan's work and his upcoming show schedule, take a look at his website:  www.jivanlee.com

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, February 22, 2013

Panel Painting Tips: Tips on Framing

All of our standard size panels fit into most pre-made and sectional frames. If doing a piece specifically for a frame, be sure to measure it ahead of time as frame sizes may vary. We cut our panels with a 1/16" tolerance. For an elegant touch, try mounting the finished piece inside linen or silk liners before placing into a frame. For an alternative to framing, try the cradled panels, as they can be hung directly on the wall without having to frame them first.

For a clever and easy framing technique for the 1/8" flat panels, see this video demonstration by Linda Sheets, Scratchbord™ artist extraordinaire.

 

The Winter Sale is still going on through the end of this month, so save while you can on Gessobord, Claybord, Encausticbord and the Artist Panel at up to 50% off at select 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, February 15, 2013

Winter Sale Happening Now!

The winter sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and will run out by the end of the month.  If you haven't already seen the ads, the eNewsletter, other blog posts or Facebook, then I'm here to tell you that Gessobord™, Claybord™, Encausticbord™ and the Artist Panel are on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.  AND some of these retailers ship overseas, too.

I spend a lot of time posting original art created on Ampersand panels, as well as tips on how best to use each one in this blog.  It is certainly a good time to try a new surface.  If you're curious about a specific paint or panel, this blog has loads of good info to peak your interest and at these sale prices, what do you have to lose?  Why not try them all?  There are so many talented artists sharing their expertise to help you get started, have a look, choose one that's right for you.

Gessobord--  Perfect for acrylics, oils, alkyds and casein. 
• 88% thicker acrylic gesso than other brands
• Consistently even, bright white finish
• Right level of absorbency, will not dull colors 


Claybord-- Perfect for ink, egg tempera, transfers & pencil
• Ultra-smooth absorbent clay ground
• Accepts more mediums than any other surface
• One of a kind workability with paints and artist tools



Encausticbord-- Perfect for encaustic, cold wax and mixed media
• The only panel exclusively made for encaustic painting needs
  Ground is heat resistant and highly absorbent
•  Wax can cling to the surface without cracking or separating

Artist Panel--  Ampersand quality at an affordable price
• Acrylic gesso ground on MDF
• Ready to paint with oils, acrylics and mixed media
• Perfect for altered art, collage and found objects
• Simple to hang and frame


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, February 8, 2013

Panel Painting Tips: Using Inks

Inks are probably the most versatile of all painting mediums when used with Claybord™. Claybord's smooth absorbent surface eliminates smudging, bleeding, and feathering. The pigments in most inks are only absorbed into the top layer of the Claybord surface allowing them to be easily erased and manipulated. When finished, seal your artwork with spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and frame without glass.

For best results, use an India Ink with a pleasing warm color undertone and a low acrylic content. Higgins water proof drawing ink, Black Magic, and/or Sumi inks are recommended. Or, try our already inked Scratchbord™. To begin, paint, airbrush or wipe on washes applying heavier ink in areas needing more darks. When applied, India or Sumi ink does not dissolve like watercolor. The India Ink will not lift or mix with other media when painting over ink washes or drawings. India inks work especially well on Claybord in mixed media compositions. Try applying oil or acrylic washes over an ink drawing. It is truly amazing how the ink drawing remains intact and is enhanced by the washes of color. 

Oil free steel wool or sand paper can be used to gently remove some of the ink to create soft tonal values. For best results, use a 0000 grade oil free steel wool or 400 grit sand paper. Using steel wool, India Ink and scratch tools, create a wide range of tonal values in your work. Painting and drawing techniques can successfully be combined using this method of adding and subtracting paint. Use our Claybord Tools or Xacto knives to cut into the surface to create fine white lines and sharp contrast where scratchboard effects are needed. Claybord can be coated with inks and used like a traditional scratchboard.
Work by Charles Ewing
In many cases, the same techniques using India Inks on Claybord can be used with colored inks. However, some colored inks contain a high dye content making them difficult to remove using steel wool. Test all colored inks on a small piece of Claybord to determine their staining properties before using them in a composition.


To see a full work in progress by Charles Ewing using ink on Claybord, check out the Unlimited Possibilities for Depth and Detail, where he demonstrates his entire process of creating a portrait with India ink and scratching techniques. 

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, February 1, 2013

Working in Egg Tempera with Mark Meunier

Most egg tempera work is done in a cross hatching style, as the paint dries so quickly.  The paint lends itself to drawing lines, rather than the soft buttery laying down that oil allows.  But, Mark Meunier works his technique almost like oils, choosing a primary palette, glazing with the medium and working realistically.  Mark has taken the difficulty and tension out of egg tempera and created a technique that anyone can use.

Choosing a primary palette of eight colors, white, yellow ochre, yellow, orange, red, prussian blue, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue, Mark created a simple palette with small cups of pigment laying around the borders.  On the corner, a cup of egg yolk and a bit of water mixed waits for dipping.  He doesn't grind down each color first as is the tradition of egg tempera, but instead, mixes his colors on the palette.


There isn't a formula, he says, for the exact amount of egg and water to mix, but getting all of the egg white off the yolk is vital.  Roll the yolk around on a paper towel before using and add water, no need to worry about distilled water or organic fresh farm eggs, either.  Just use what you have, and create an emulsion that works.  


Working on an absorbent surface, like Claybord™ is best, as the egg needs something to soak into to adhere correctly.  Traditional gesso was the original substrate that Mark used, but he found that Claybord works very well and he doesn't have the laborious process of making his own gesso.  

Lastly, varnishing isn't necessary, but egg tempera is soft and sensitive, so it is up to the artist.  Do note, however, that varnishing will change the piece as it will pop the colors.  Egg tempera has soft darks, more muted hues, and varnishing will alter the piece. 

Claybord is on sale now at many retailers across the country for up to 40% off.  Find a retailer near you:  www.ampersandart.com/retailers2

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.