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All Things Ampersand

Top Ten Reasons Artists Should Use Ampersand Panels

We had a recent question from an artist who is brand new to panel painting. She wanted to know why she should paint on panels and specifically why she should use Ampersand products over other brands.

We hear this a lot. With canvas being the “norm” and a plethora of cheap panels available, why would you want to use Ampersand panels for your art?

Below are the top ten reasons and advantages of painting on rigid panels – specifically well-prepared Ampersand “bords.”

1. Well-prepared rigid panels are undeniably the best support for your artwork

It is extremely difficult – especially over time – for a stretched canvas to support thick layers of oil, acrylic paints, or alkyds without cracking the paint film. Stretched canvas is much more susceptible to atmospheric changes in moisture and temperature, which affects your artwork’s stability over time.

Rigid substrates, on the other hand, can support thick layers of heavy-bodied paints without damage. We find many great examples of paintings on prepared wood panels from the 3rd and 4th centuries that are still intact without a paint film cracking. Many “old masters” painted on board, including DaVinci, Rafael, and Rembrandt.

2. Panels can support any paint medium

You can apply any medium to one of Ampersand’s panels:  pastel, charcoal, acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, alkyd, casein, ink, oil pastel, oil bar, encaustic, egg tempera, and more. For tips on which panel might be right for you, refer to the panel comparison chart below or visit https://ampersandart.com/select-panel  for more information.

Wood Panel painting surface comparison

3. Ampersand engineers its high-density hardboard for strength and stability

Ampersand makes all of its Museum Series panels with premium US-made hardboard with a high-density fiber core engineered for maximum dimensional stability, moisture, and warp resistance.

All hardboard is not alike! Ampersand’s hardboard significantly outperforms MDF and raw wood panels in eliminating panel warping and bowing.

This article about Ampersand’s Hardbord explores some of the more technical aspects of Ampersand’s Hardbord.

4. Ampersand’s patented Archiva-Seal barrier technology protects your artwork for
decades to come

All wood panels should be sealed before applying the painting ground and before painting on the surface.

Have you ever used a pure white gesso ground directly on wood only to discover that it looks yellow or marbled? These phenomena will not happen with Ampersand’s acid-free surfaces.

Ampersand properly seals its hardboard supports with Archiva-Seal. Only Ampersand uses this unique patented barrier technology to seal the hardboard, preventing any support-induced discoloration and any separation of the painting ground from the panel.

5. Ampersand’s surfaces are completely acid-free

Every single ground Ampersand uses is acid-free and long-lasting, from the smooth, absorbent clay ground of Claybord to the bright acrylic gesso ground of Gessobord.

6. Choose from a wide variety of finishes and textures without having to seal and prime

Claybord, Encausticbord, Pastelbord, Gessobord, Scratchbord, and Aquabord are all ready to use right away without the need to seal, prime, and gesso the panel. However, if you do want to prepare and apply your own ground, you can use Ampersand’s Hardbord and enjoy the benefits of our handmade construction and high-quality materials.

7. Many popular standard sizes and profiles

Ampersand has a wide variety of sizes and cradle profiles from 1/8″ 4″ x4″ panels up to 2″ 48″ x36″ – over 500 configurations! In addition to flat panels, we have three sizes of cradles available – ¾”, 1 1/2″, and 2″.

Download a pdf of our complete product line here.

8. Easy to frame – or not!

There is no need to frame our cradled panels as they are ready to hang as soon as the painting is complete.

Only Ampersand handcrafts its cradle support frames with 13-ply stable Birch plywood. You can paint, stain, wax, or leave the frames unfinished.

Visit this linked page on our website for some hanging tips and cradle treatments.

9. Made from FSC certified sustainable
US forest products

Using wood panels can be daunting, knowing that trees are processed to make them! Ampersand is acutely aware of this potential drain on our environment. Although more expensive, this is why we choose FSC certified wood products from US forests that are renewable and sustainable.

FSC certification is the most effective environmental standard for protecting wildlife, soil, and water quality. Ampersand also manufactures its Hardbord using a completely green process: we use no harmful chemicals, create no hazardous waste, and no gas emissions exist for the artist—and our panels are entirely formaldehyde-free!

10. Hand-made in the USA!

The Ampersand official headquarters is in Buda, Texas – just south of Austin –  providing manufacturing jobs in our community and the highest quality handmade products for artists everywhere. The attention to detail and quality control is unmatched.

Read about our Manufacturing process here.

Ampersand builds our panels using only high-quality materials and processes deliberately chosen and designed with the artist in mind. You can rest assured that your work will last for many years to come when your work is on an Ampersand panel!


2017 Fall Back to School Sale!

The Fall Back-to-School sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and runs through the end of September. Gessobord, Claybord, Scratchbord, our Artist Panel Series (Primed Smooth, Canvas Texture and Unprimed Basswood) and more on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.


One thought on “Top Ten Reasons Artists Should Use Ampersand Panels”

  1. Avatar Dava Dahlgran says:

    I also use the Gessobord for colored pencil. It works very well with my method of mixing a metallic leaf background with colored pencil drawing. Love the way it accepts pencil and let’s me erase when necessary!

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