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All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Dawn Emerson

Night Owl, 12″ x 24″, mixed media on Claybord
Emerson Owl
She Calls, mixed media on Claybord
Oregon artist, Dawn Emerson has been working in soft pastel for over 20 years, perfecting her technique and showcasing the beauty of her environment while gaining international recognition as both artist and instructor.  Below is her experience discovering Claybord.

“In the printmaking studio I belong to in Bend, Oregon, a lot of people were raving about the amazing surface of Claybord™.

As printmakers and painters, they were carving into the surface, using all kinds of media, and loving the fact that they could hang the cradled piece without a frame. Primarily a pastelist, I have been exploring mixed media, including monotypes, collography, and engraving for the past 8 years. I finally ordered a few 12×12 cradled Claybords about 2 years ago, when I was preparing for a one person show of horses to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse.

At first I couldn’t get pencil to work, nor color pencil, and I started throwing stuff on the surface in desperation. I washed all the stuff off, and noticed the surface was softer. I put sumi ink on it, and started scratching it off with a razor blade, then steel wool, and other tools. I loved the feeling of scratchboard I was getting, but unlike scratchboard, I could get grey tones, and marks left from the tools I was using. In order to get color with the black and white, I started using liquid water color and oil pastel.

Like most artists, I’ve had oil pastels hanging around forever, but couldn’t find a use for them or a surface to paint on that made sense. I wanted to see if they’d work on the Claybord, and decided to take off the wrappers and use them on the side. I am primarily a soft pastelist, and using pastels on the side is the way I always have worked. The result was exciting– the oil pastel layered just like my soft pastels on paper! I used Sennelier’s oil pastel fixative for oil pastels, and was delighted with the textural effect.

On Alert, mixed media on Claybord

I did about 20 pieces, mainly horses. This was the most affordable show for me because I didn’t frame them, and the gallery was delighted with the coherent look of the show, and with the sales. Since then, I have incorporated ink, oil pastel, soft pastel, water color, pencil, and collage into the pieces, and continue to discover new ways to use the Claybord. The surface encourages me to create tools to make marks that will convey movement  in fascinating new ways.” ~ Dawn Emerson


Romp before Dusk, 12″ x 12″, ink on Claybord

The raven above, She Calls, was accepted into the 2015 Birds on Art Show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wasau, WI through November 29th and will go on national tour.  You can also find out more about Dawn’s upcoming workshops for this fall and next spring on her website, along with learning about exhibitions and seeing more of her current work.  www.dawnemerson.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.

2 comments on “Featured Artist: Dawn Emerson”

  1. Your work is amazing and inspires me to try Claybord too! Congratulations on being accepted into Birds in Art, it's such a prestigious show!!

  2. Avatar Eliel says:

    Great depth in many aspects in your work ! I especially like the textural lines

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