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Friday, July 15, 2016

Karyn's Last Blog Post

To all the amazing artists that use and support Ampersand, 

It has been a wonderful part of my journey to spend time here with you on the blog, on Facebook, on Youtube, Twitter and Pinterest over the past several years.  This has been the most thoughtful, passionate and skilled audience I have ever met online, and I will miss talking with you regularly.  It is time for me to move along to other art ventures of my own, and I thank you so much for joining me here online with Ampersand.

Ampersand's online presence is growing and expanding and you will likely see more blogging, more articles, more videos and more employees on the social networks.  I will be watching from a distance and working on my own paintings as well as moving into some new projects.  If you want to keep up with me, you can still find me in the Ampersand Facebook Group, on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank you for reading,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Getting Started with Aquabord™

Sand, Water and Meg, watercolor on Aquabord by Phillip R. Austen
When using watercolor, you have a couple of choices with Ampersand's panels.  If you are a traditional watercolorist or gouache painter who uses very wet washes, try Aquabord. It behaves more like cold press watercolor paper and is more absorbent than Claybord. However, if you're familiar working with watercolors or gouache on hot press paper to achieve high level detail, you may find working with Claybord very exciting. Our "product selection guide" is also a good resource for choosing the right panel.

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

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. 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. 

When finished, seal Aquabord™ with a finishing spray and free your painting from the additional weight and glare caused when framing behind glass.  Seal 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® Polymer UVLS varnish. About 4 coats brushed-on, provides a very durable archival finish and is also removable for conservation purposes.

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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Honoring Scratchboard Artist Diana Lee

Tiny Feet

Diana Lee, internationally known scratchboard artist and dear friend to Ampersand passed last Wednesday evening.  She was surrounded by family and passed peacefully after a long struggle with many ailments, according to her adoring husband, Steve Bockman.  

We are deeply thankful for the time we have had to get to know Diana and her work, to see her passion for Scratchbord™, and to witness her involvement in teaching and the International Society of Scratchboard Artists.  She raised the bar for scratch art and brought so much attention to the medium.  Her body of work is a testament to her great skill and stamina in pursuit of creating some of the most beautiful imagery and story through her art.

We wish much peace to Steve and family and send our deepest sympathy to the scratchboard family.

Tiny Dancer

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Current Events with Scratchbord™ Artists

Saltie, 8"x 10" work by John Agnew
Crocodile Scratchboards opened last fall on tour by notable animal artist, John Agnew and curated by David Wagner. It is currently at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, KS  and will be on display through August 31, 2016.  Thirty works created altogether, with 20 Scratchbord works, all on Ampersand Scratchbord™ panels, and ten preliminary sketches and paintings. John is a current member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists and particularly enjoys crocodilian subject matter although he has traveled worldwide to capture all varieties of animals not only in scratch art but also in painting.  John keeps his website current with a beautiful display of his work:

For those that are new to our blog, to Ampersand, or to Scratchbord™, there is a wonderful group of artists in the International Society of Scratchboard Artists.  This international group began from a WetCanvas! forum and has brought much attention and education to the world of scratch art as well as a mutually beneficial relationship with Ampersand.  We are proud sponsors and supporters of their annual exhibition and convention with several workshops and a juried show.  Next year's convention is tentatively scheduled for Australia.  The past exhibition finished in April this year in Tucson, Arizona by you can view the exhibition online.  Associate membership is open to anyone interested in Scratch art, and Active membership is open to those interested in exhibitions.  Details of membership, events, workshops and the society can all be found through their 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.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Scratchbord™ Basics

Scratchbord flat panel by Ampersand Art Supply Ampersand Scratchbord™ has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines. 

Backed with Ampersand’s true artist hardboard, Scratchbord will not tear, crack or bend like other paper scratchboards and can be sealed with spray fixative to eliminate fingerprints for perfect glass-free presentation. 

Tips for Using Scratchbord™ 
  • Start by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord™ surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. 
  • You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. 
  • To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. 
  • When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth.  

Adding Vibrant Color
  • To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord™ Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. 
  • For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. 
  • For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. 
  • If you make a mistake, you can repair it. Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas. 

Seal Scratchbord™ 

    Scratchbord Tools & Accessories
  • Use an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. 
  • First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. 
  • Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. 

Step By Step Sally Maxwell's Demonstration
Scratchbord Tools & Accessories
Coloring Scratchbord with Ampersand Inks
Ampersand's Scratchbord Videos
International Society of Scratchbord Artists
WetCanvas! Scratchbord Forum

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.