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All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Margaret Munz-Losch

Merkin-Song of Swans, 48″x 36″

Tennessee based artist Margaret Munz-Losch brings together the natural world and human identity, sometimes in an uneasy way to grab the viewers attention, but always in a beautifully rendered and designed finished piece.  Margaret honed her art skills on her own, learning to cultivate her attention to detail along with her vision for the unspoken pieces of life.  

Margaret works from her own photographs and reference material, creating a rough sketch first before drawing on panel.  Then she blocks in the work with tinted gesso or acrylic paint before using layers of oil based pencils and wax based colored pencils.  Her pieces take hundreds of hours, taking into consideration the grew detail and size of her work.

Black Cat, 30″ x 30″

Her choice of materials in combination is just as unique as her artistic perspective, bringing together acrylic and colored pencil on Gessobord.  Margaret came to find Ampersand through an art material catalogue and has created many of her works on custom sizes, unusual for a colored pencil artist.  She explains, Good materials are imperative when you want your work to be all it can be. There is no point in working against yourself especially when the work is so detailed and time consuming. There is beyond a world of difference between fine quality materials and poor quality. I can not stress it enough. Spending more on an Ampersand panel ultimately saves you time, money, and frustration.”  Gessobord is perfect for Margaret’s work, with a little tooth for her pencil and the ability to layer paint.  

Early Bird, 70″ x 30″

Margaret’s work is on exhibit right now at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans until August 23rd and then some of the pieces will go to the Texas Contemporary Art Fair in Houston in early September.  You can also read more about this exhibit and Margaret’s work on the Picayune Times website: Margaret Munz-losch sketches the Psychology of Childhood.

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.

Featured Artist: Ian Bodnaryk

Salama, 11″ x 14″, acrylic

I have found that Ampersand panels are unmatched and provide the ideal painting substrate for my high detailed work.  I previously made my own panels, but found that I could rarely get a flawless surface.  With Ampersand Museum Series panels, I receive an ideal texture with little to no fuss.”  ~Ian Bodnaryk

Inquisition, 15″ x 20″, acrylic

Canadian artist, Ian Bodnaryk has been working in acrylics for more than 20 years, and it is evident, from the scrupulous detail in his work and the careful planning of the design, that each piece is constructed with skillful precision and thoughtfulness. Ian began his career in realism, enjoying the natural beauty in an object, even if one might find the subject ordinary or mundane. “I love the challenge of turning objects around my home into dramatic icons, while retaining the simplicity or humor of the subject,” he explains.

Choosing to work in acrylics was natural for Ian, as he learned how to paint and found his style with them, gathering along the way that they achieve the results he needs.  With the quick drying time, Ian can focus on one piece at a time, his working preference.  For a time, Ian made his own panels, but struggled to get a flawless surface. Considering the reviews of fellow Scratchbord artists, Ian decided to try Ampersand’s panels. He found that the high quality met his needs without much preparation. 

The Contemplation of Daniel, 20″ x 16″, acrylic,
Kingston Prize Finalist


Ian explains his process using Hardbord™, the unprimed, museum quality board Ampersand sells. “When using unprimed Hardbord, I will first seal the surface with two coats of GAC100. After an appropriate amount of drying time, I begin the priming process. I normally thin the gesso by about 20%.  I apply the gesso with a 2″ hake brush using criss-cross brush strokes. After each coat is applied, I will use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.  Once the gesso is dry and cool, I will sand the surface using a 200 grit sanding block to eliminate all the brush marks. This process is repeated 6 to 8 times. The last two coats, I will normally tint the gesso with my background color. When using a board that is not cradled, I will apply several coats to the back of the panel to eliminate any warping.” After completing a painting, Ian does varnish with a spray varnish, he shares, “Varnishing is the key to maintain the life, vibrancy, and safety of your piece.”


Earlier this year, Ian became one of 30 finalists of the Kingston Prize, a biennial national competition for contemporary portraits by Canadian artists.  To see Ian’s work in person, you can visit The Art Gallery of Calgary in Alberta, Canada where his work as part of the Kingston Prize exhibit will be on display through January 25, 2014.


To view more of Ian’s work online, you can visit his website at:  www.ianbodnaryk.com or find him on Facebook:  facebook.com/ibodnaryk

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.

Featured Artist: Valerie Allen

Valerie’s photo entry in our contest

We held our first photo contest on Facebook this spring asking for artists to submit shots of their studio with their Ampersand panels in clear view.  Out of the entries, we selected three winners to share with you in our blog.  Over the coming months, you’ll get to know those artists and their Ampersand studios a bit better.

Athena’s Timeline:  The Prelude, Mixed Media on Claybord
Detail of Athena’s Timeline Illuminated

Michigan artist, Valerie Allen, has always known she was an artist.  She was the go-to person in high school for anything art, always working on projects and commitments.  “I remember begging my dad to drive me to an art contest 2 hours away — definitely a long shot — he missed his favorite grouse hunting day.  Lucky for me– my persistence paid off with me winning the grand prize.  He always remembered that day with a smile.  The country girl showing the city folks a thing or two about design!”  Her persistence as an artist has continued to pay off, as she is an award winning exhibitor and instructor.  As an educator for many universities throughout her career and ongoing with the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art and the Golden working Artist program, Valerie has  a lot to share with her students about good materials.  

Valerie has always been attracted to a range of mediums.  She found that her love of art history and process enlightened her on the range of mediums and the artists that used them.  Naturally her experimentation followed the artists that attracted her:  Van Gogh, Picasso, Rauschenberg, moving through oils, ceramics, lithography and encaustic.  With her move into the Golden Working Artist’s Program, Valerie has concentrated on encaustic and acrylic, both which do quite well on Ampersand panels.

Valerie came to find Ampersand Claybord™ through a colleague and artist, Armin Mersmann.  He hired her for instruction at the Alden B. Down Museum of Science and Art.  A lovely bonus came from their working relationship as Valerie and Armin have been married now for ten years.  

“I find Ampersand to be such a versatile support for my work.  I use it for my acrylics that are layered with thick gels and pastels.  I also use it to mount my encaustic monotypes.  I really appreciate the archival qualities of the boards.  When I sell artwork on Ampersand, I know with confidence it will stand the test of time in any setting,” Valerie explains.  

To see more of Valerie’s work or her schedule for the Golden Working Artist Program, check out her website:  valerieallen.artroof.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.

Ampersand Faces: Karyn Meyer-Berthel

Height

I first came upon Ampersand panels at a NAMTA conference several years ago.  I was impressed by the high quality craftsmanship, the professional look and the range in sizes and finishes.  This was just when Pastelbord™ had first come out, and Elaine Salazar gave me a sample to test.  I hoarded it for the longest time, knowing it was too beautiful to use.  But after attempting to create my own panels for a number of years, I found that Ampersand could do a better job at an affordable price for my needs.  I’m never shy about selling a work on these panels, because I know they will last.

I work in acrylics, the love affair I’ve had with them goes way back to junior high when I took a painting class during the summer.  I find the medium easy to use and clean up and incredibly versatile.  I know that there is so much more to explore in acrylics and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  Since I work primarily with layers and layers of acrylic paint, and more layers of high gloss mediums and varnishes, I needed a support that would hold up to the weight of the paint.  Some of my earlier large works were on canvas, but they began to sag and warp.  It was an easy transition to panel for the security of having proper support and an archival surface.  However, I’ve always liked the feel of working on canvas, even if the texture is covered up with layers of medium.  So, I started working with Hardbord first, to test out how to apply fabric to the panel and work from there.

Porcelain Blue
Diagonal

Sometimes, I will apply a completed painting to Hardbord™ and at other times, I will apply a fresh piece of canvas directly to the Hardbord to work.  With either process, I coat the Hardbord in a few layers of Soft Gel Gloss or Varathane Polyurethane.  I coat the entire panel, equally on all sides and edges, giving it plenty of time to dry.  Then, I use Soft Gel Gloss to adhere the fabric to the panel, or the painting to the panel.  If I am adhering just the fabric, I’ll coat the top with a mix of water and gel to pull the fabric to the surface, pushing it on with a soft cloth or hardware store brush.  Turning the panel face down, I place weight (usually books) on the back to press the fabric evenly on the surface.  Once the piece is thoroughly dry, I trim the edges with a sharp razor blade to show the unfinished cradle and then I finish as desired.  Often I will apply a heavy coat of MSA varnish to the pieces once they are trimmed.  

Once I started using Ampersand panels, I didn’t look back.  I haven’t yet tried all of the surfaces, especially the newer surfaces that came out this year.  However, I am thrilled with what each surface brings to my studio and art practice.  I am continually working to develop my style and push myself, and these panels offer more and more ideas with each type of medium.  I regularly use the Hardbord and Gessobord right now, but I’ve recently stepped into the Aquabord and Encausticbord, testing out more watercolor and mixed media.  And who knows what the new year will bring?

Thanks for reading my story.  If you want to see more of my work, check out my 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.

Catalyst Tools on Ampersand Panels

Jenny Lerner

 

Princeton Brush has innovation and customer service at the top of the list.  They are continually reaching to improve tools that artists can use, hence the Catalyst tools came along.

“The Catalyst design team realized a need for both tools and brushes that worked especially well with heavy paint.  We wanted to give artists tools that answered this problem in a durable, yet elegant, way,” explains Virgina Cofer, Catalyst Production Manager.

The Catalyst tools do just that.  They are a FDA approved silicone shaped and molded in 6 different tips, sequential sizes and wedges in each.  Since they are heat resistent up to 450 degrees, they work very well with encaustic and won’t scratch hot palettes.  And, since they are silicone, they work quite well with acrylic, allowing the artist to leave the paint to dry on the tip before peeling off and tossing.  No need to wash.

Rebecca Crowell

 

Since many of the Ampersand panels work beautifully with innovative techniques, mixed media and heavy bodied paints, these tools are a perfect choice.  Encausticbord especially is structured for mixed media application and hot wax, so the blades and wedges can move easily on their surface.  And since panels hold the weight of gels and mediums unlike canvas or paper, Catalyst tools can be used to pile on the paint.  The pairing of Ampersand panels and Catalyst tools is a perfect match.

Rebecca Crowell

 

Even though the tools were designed to be used with any type of heavy medium in mind, they can be used with anything — even cooking and cake decorating if you’re so inclined.  To see some innovative techniques with the unusual tools, peek at the Catalyst YouTube channel.

Janice Mason Steeves

 

To see the Catalyst blades and wedges in person, you can purchase via Dick Blick, Utrecht, Cheap Joes and Sax Art Supplies as well as many local art supply stores.  You can also learn more about each shape from the Princeton Brush website.

Ampersand’s Warmest,
Andrea Pramuk
Marketing Director
Ampersand Art Supply

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