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All Things Ampersand

The Artist Panel: Unprimed Basswood

The Unprimed Basswood panel is handcrafted using a non-flexible basswood top, sanded perfectly smooth and ready to seal and prime with the ground of your choice. Compared with other wood panels on the market, the Unprimed Basswood is sanded perfectly smooth and lacks plywood seams, knots or raised fibers providing the cleaner, more professional look artists’ want. The support frames are made with quality solid pine strips that can be finished with paint or stain. Unprimed Basswood is great for encaustic, mixed media, collage and wood engraving and accepts all types of painting grounds .

All wood should be sealed and primed. For further instructions on sealing a priming, visit these previous blog posts:  
Available in two standard cradled profiles, 7/8” and 1.5”, both are simple to hang or frame.  You can find a chart on the standard sizes here:  Standard Sizes for Unprimed Basswood.  Ultra-stable, these wood panels will not give, bend or flex and like all Ampersand’s panels, they are made with quality materials that have been tested not only for durability, but also for performance with artists’ paints. For ideas on how to treat the edges of the cradle, consult this article on hanging and framing.

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.

Painting on Panel: Acrylic Priming

We have reviewed how to size and seal wood and how to prime it with oil primer.  Some of you may prefer to use an acrylic primer, or an acrylic dispersion ground for you work.  Our best recommendations for the process are below.  

Golden® brand acrylic gesso is our first recommendation.  However, these instructions are virtually interchangeable with a number of other brands if there’s one you like better or have more readily available. Gesso is a flexible liquid ground that seals, protects, and gives “tooth” to wood panels, which promotes good paint adhesion. It comes ready-to-use, but can be mixed with water for thinner applications. Golden® Gesso is available in Black or White, and can be mixed with Golden® Acrylics to produce a range of colored grounds. Gesso can be applied with a brush, roller, putty knife, Catalyst™ wedge #W-06 or sprayed on. Dilution of the Gesso is only necessary for spray application, but may be desired for brush or roller applications as well. When diluting with water, use a maximum dilution of 25%. Any mixture within this range offers little risk of cracking or other adverse effects.

Step 1 – Size and seal the wood
A size is a thin solution (often a weak glue) that is brushed directly onto a support. Sizing or sealing is recommended to protect Ampersand’s uncoated panels from support-induced discoloration when using acrylic gesso. If wood is not sized or sealed properly before applying the gesso, yellowing can occur because water [a solvent] can cause acids, occurring naturally in wood, to migrate to the surface. In fact, it is extremely important to properly seal any and all un-primed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration that can cause your paint film to yellow over time. Hardbord™ is manufactured using Aspen fibers, a wood with a very low acid content, but still needs to be sized and sealed. The Natural Wood Panel™ and Unprimed Basswood panels are made with a thick basswood plywood top that has been sanded ultra-smooth. They are both seamless and knot-free and provide a perfectly smooth and uniform painting finish. When you size and gesso the basswood surface, you won’t experience the raised wood grain fibers that can happen with some other rougher types of plywood; the surface stays nice and smooth. The basswood panels have solid wood cradles and braces that may be more susceptible to moisture and environmental changes than the birch plywood cradles we use on the Hardbord™. Therefore, Ampersand recommends that you prime both the front and back of the Basswood top to ensure long-term stability of the panel.

The best products we have found to seal wood are Golden®GAC100 [2 coats]  and Gamblin® PVA Size [4 coats].
Apply Golden® GAC100 directly to the basswood or hardboard surface with a 2″ paintbrush or putty knife. Apply to the front and back if applicable. Allow the GAC100 to dry completely and follow with an additional coat. Do not sand between layers. Before applying oil primer or the painting ground, allow the GAC100 to dry for 1-3 days so that the sealer can coalesce into a uniform film for maximum protection. If you’re using Gamblin® PVA Size, use 4 coats and follow the same application instructions as for the GAC100.

Step 2 – Protect and prepare the cradle
Hardbord™ is available in either a flat 1/8″ panel, with a 3/4″ cradle, or with the 2″ DEEP cradle. The Natural Wood and Unprimed Basswood panels are available in both a 7/8″ cradle and 1.5″ cradle profile. You have the choice of painting all the way around the cradle or leaving the natural wood showing for framing purposes. Be sure to size and seal the bare wood if you want to paint completely around the edges of the cradle. Or, to protect the wood from paint and gesso, cover the sides of the panel with painter’s tape up to the edge of the surface. Do not remove the tape until the painting is finished. Painter’s tape does not leave a sticky residue like many household masking tapes that can be difficult to remove, and will leave a pristine surface underneath when the painting is complete. For instructions on different ways to prepare your cradles for presentation, consult this article: https://ampersandart.com/featuredartist/featured-artist-pramuk1.html

Step 3 – Apply the Acrylic Gesso

Thin the gesso with up to 25% water for the first coat so that it will flow more evenly on the [sized] panel. Use a 2″-3″ brush for the first coat and a foam roller for subsequent coats. Begin by working the gesso back and forth with the brush in one direction and then in a cross direction with a little pressure so that the gesso penetrates the panel better. Apply gesso to the side edges of the panel and the plywood cradle if applicable. Don’t forget to seal the cradle with Golden® GAC100 first if you are going to gesso the edges for painting. The basswood panels have solid wood cradles and braces that may be more susceptible to moisture and environmental changes than the birch plywood cradles we use on the Hardbord™. Therefore, Ampersand recommends that you gesso both the front and back of the basswood top to ensure long-term stability of the panel. Allow the front of the basswood to dry completely, then, gesso the reverse side.
Step 4 – To Finish
After the first coat of gesso is dry, smooth out any rough spots with light grade sandpaper. Apply a second coat of gesso with the foam roller (or brush). Allow it to dry and then sand again. For best results, apply a minimum of 2 coats of gesso and sand in-between. Subsequent layers of gesso will produce an even smoother painting surface. For spray-application, you may have to apply more than 2 coats to achieve a film similar to a brush application. For basswood panels, follow the same instructions, but also prime the back. For each additional coat to the panel face, apply the same number of applications to the panel back.

The fall sale is on!  Hardbord, Gessobord, Claybord, Encausticbord and all Artist Panels are all on sale, 20% to 60% off at a dealer near you!

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.

Winter Sale Happening Now!

The winter sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and will run out by the end of the month.  If you haven’t already seen the ads, the eNewsletter, other blog posts or Facebook, then I’m here to tell you that Gessobord™, Claybord™, Encausticbord™ and the Artist Panel are on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.  AND some of these retailers ship overseas, too.

I spend a lot of time posting original art created on Ampersand panels, as well as tips on how best to use each one in this blog.  It is certainly a good time to try a new surface.  If you’re curious about a specific paint or panel, this blog has loads of good info to peak your interest and at these sale prices, what do you have to lose?  Why not try them all?  There are so many talented artists sharing their expertise to help you get started, have a look, choose one that’s right for you.

Gessobord-–  Perfect for acrylics, oils, alkyds and casein. 
• 88% thicker acrylic gesso than other brands
• Consistently even, bright white finish
• Right level of absorbency, will not dull colors 

Claybord– Perfect for ink, egg tempera, transfers & pencil
• Ultra-smooth absorbent clay ground
• Accepts more mediums than any other surface
• One of a kind workability with paints and artist tools

Encausticbord– Perfect for encaustic, cold wax and mixed media
• The only panel exclusively made for encaustic painting needs
  Ground is heat resistant and highly absorbent
•  Wax can cling to the surface without cracking or separating

Artist Panel–  Ampersand quality at an affordable price
• Acrylic gesso ground on MDF
• Ready to paint with oils, acrylics and mixed media
• Perfect for altered art, collage and found objects
• Simple to hang and frame

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.

The Artist Panel

Original Artist Panel

As 2013 opens, many of you, myself included, are setting artistic goals.  It is a great time to review what worked well in the last year and what you want to accomplish this year.  It is sometimes eye opening to see how well things went or what could be done better.  What a great time to reflect on how to improve one’s work or what to change in approach, style, materials, etc. 

On that note, I wanted to share more about the new products Ampersand introduced last summer, two new Artist Panels in different finishes. Some of you might already be familiar with the Artist Panel in the canvas finish.  It is an MDF panel with an acrylic gesso finish, textured like canvas.  I’m a fan of these myself, having tried several over the years.  In light of their popularity, we’ve come out with two new finishes. . .. the Artist Panel primed smooth on all sides (yes, all sides!) and the Artist Panel unprimed basswood.

The primed smooth panel gives artists the opportunity to finish the sides in any desired effect such as wrapping a painting around the edges with oils or acrylics.  It has a super smooth, semi-absorbent finish.  An acid free ground, it also works great for mounting giclées, prints or drawings.  The panels are 1/8″ MDF, fully primed with an acrylic gesso on the surface and sides, and cradled with solid pine strips, ready for hanging in either a ⅞” or 1.5″ cradled profile. 

The unprimed basswood panel can be used for encaustic, collage, mixed media or wood engraving. It also accepts all types of painting grounds for those who like to prepare their own.  The surface is sanded perfectly smooth, with no seams, knots or raised fibers.  The cradles are prepared with solid pine strips for a stable panel, easily finished with paint or stain.  All unprimed panels should be properly sealed and primed before applying paint:  www.ampersandart.com/tips/priming.html

One of the main benefits of the Artist Panel series is that they are made to Ampersand’s high quality standards, but designed for everyone’s budget.  Something to consider if you’re looking to alter your spending or if you just want to try something new.  Let us know what you think of the different Artist Panel finishes.  We’d love to hear from you!
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.

Fall Sale happening now: Claybord, Gessobord, Encausticbord and Artist Panel

The Fall Sale is on, so what does this mean for you?  And how can you get in on the action?


Well, a few times a year, Ampersand has a sale on a few of the products, which means that the Ampersand retailers can sell them 20%-50% off to you, the artist.  Not all the products go on sale each time, so you have to watch carefully for when your favorite panels are in the sales.  During each sale, the website, the blog and our social media outlets mention the products and places where you can purchase them easily.  

This September, Claybord™, Gessobord, Hardbord Encausticbord and the Artist Panel are all on sale.  For a quick reminder on all the pros of each panel, check the list below and notice the new products:  Artist Panel Primed Smooth and Artist Panel Unprimed Basswood as well as 1.5″ profiles for Claybord and Gessobord.   


Patti’s New Bowl, colored pencil on Gessobord by Kendra Ferreira

•  Superior performance with mixed media

•  Ultra-smooth, highly absorbent finish
•  Ideal for inks, acrylics, pencil and gouache

•  Ideal for oils and acrylics
•  Consistently even, bright white finish
•  Perfect level of absorbency for paints


•  Build up your own painting surfaces
•  Accepts all types of gesso grounds
•  Eco-friendly, high-density Aspen fiber core

•  Ready-to-use encaustic gesso surface
•  Use with encaustic, collage, inks and mixed media
•  Absorbent and heat resistant

“Tree of Life”, by Andrea Pramuk, on Artist Panel


The Artist Panel Canvas Texture

•  Ready to use with oils and acrylics
•  Achieve better and truer color
•  Medium canvas texture for optimum paint control

New!  The Artist Panel Primed Smooth
•  Fully primed top and sides
•  Super smooth acrylic gesso finish
•  Ideal for oils, acrylics and pencil

New! The Artist Panel Unprimed Basswood
•  Good with all painting grounds
•  Smooth uniform basswood finish
•  Free of knots, seams and raised fibers

New! Ampersand 1.5” Cradle Profiles
•  Fit into floater frames (1.5” total depth)
•  Paint, wax or stain the sides
•  Choose from Claybord™ or Gessobord™

To find a retailer in the sale near you:  Fall Sale Dealers

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.