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All Things Ampersand

Priming Wood Panels With Acrylic Gesso

Priming Wood Panels With Acrylic Gesso

A wood panel is a better painting substrate because it is less susceptible to expansion and contraction than flexible supports, like canvas. The movement of these flexible supports can result in cracks and damage to the artwork created on them.

Ampersand offers several ready to use sealed and primed panels, but for artists that prefer to prime their own painting panels, enjoy working with a natural wood texture, or need strong support for encaustic, collage, or mounting, Ampersand also offers three unprimed wood panel options: Hardbord, Unprimed Basswood, and Birch Wood Panel.

Commonly, artists ask us if unprimed wood panels need to be sealed. The answer is yes. If wood is not sized or sealed properly before applying gesso, yellowing can occur. This is because water (a solvent) can cause acids that occur naturally in wood to migrate to the surface. In fact, it is extremely important to properly seal all unprimed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration that can cause your paint film to yellow over time.

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Claybord and Golden® High Flow Acrylics

Claybord and Golden® High Flow Acrylics

Amy Shawley Paquette demonstrates her “painterly illustrative” style using Claybord and Golden® High Flow acrylics. She is a Virginia-based visual artist whose painting and illustration is inspired by nature, texture, color, and travel. Her work incorporates figurative elements with wildlife, architecture, and landscapes that are influenced by her adventures.

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Silhouettes on Primed Smooth

Silhouettes on Primed Smooth

Ampersand Primed Smooth works great for making silhouette paintings of your family or friends. Its smooth surface means that you’ll have excellent control of both the drawing and the painting steps in this project. Also, because it is a rigid panel, you can frame it without a mat or glass when you’re done for a lasting keepsake!

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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.