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All Things Ampersand

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 

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