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All Things Ampersand

Ampersand Faces: Dana Brown

 

Dana Brown knew he was an artist before he entered elementary school and even began introducing himself that way at the time.  He was drawing all of the time and continued to work realistically through college.  It was his day job in art materials that brought him to a desire for the abstract in his own paintings.  Understanding color relationships and how oil paint worked  coincided with his full-time job as well as leaked into his art. 

Dana is most likely the voice at the other end of the line when you call Ampersand or whose inbox you reach via email.  Like most other Ampersand employees, Dana wears many hats.  He answers customer questions about technical information, works on order requests, and travels to retailer stores to train staff, set up displays or conduct workshops.  And yet, panels are not Dana’s only area of art material expertise.  Before arriving at Ampersand, Dana worked with Gamblin® Artist Colors, Portland-based oil color manufacturer.  Since the art materials industry is fairly small, Dana was already familiar with Ampersand panels before coming to work at the factory in 2006.  So, Dana has a very good understanding of quality and how the end result is affected by his choice of materials.

 

 

Investing in good materials “means taking [his] work seriously,” says Dana.  “I invest a lot of time and effort into my artwork and I want to know that it will look the same next year or even 100 years from now.”   With so many different artists out there making use of the range of available materials, it makes sense that there are a lot of options.  However, each artist needs to choose what works best for their style, their process and intentions, not to mention their medium of choice.  “When you have high quality materials, certain struggles disappear,” he explains.

His own artwork has improved greatly with his knowledge of Ampersand’s panels and his awareness of how the surface actually effects the finished image.  Since working with Ampersand’s many artist clients, Dana has had the chance to get to know all levels and styles of work, what those artists need, and how their own work is influenced by the substrates they choose.  He has then had the opportunity to put into practice what he has learned from understanding good materials and watching other artists around him.  It has given him the opportunity to take a closer look at how the substrate influences the work just as much as the paint.

For artists looking to change their practice to panels or try out panels for the first time, Dana shares how the differences are surprising.  There is a lot of control in painting on prepared panels. There is no uneven texture or discoloration to conceal and colors are more accurate.  Painting on a perfectly smooth surface, like Claybord™ or on the slight “tooth” of Gessobord™ that Dana uses, allows the light to hit the pigments evenly. Each brush stroke goes down as intended, without the canvas texture affecting the surface.  However, the panels allow for paper or canvas to be mounted as well, providing an archival rigid substrate without the need for framing.  For artists still interested in painting on a canvas-like texture, there is always the Artist Panel™, which offers a canvas texture along with the stability of an Ampersand panel.

 

To learn more about collage on Ampersand’s Claybord™, check out this article where Dana demonstrates his collage and image transfer work:  Image Transfer and Collage on Claybord

To see more of Dana’s work, follow his blog on Tumblr at:  danabrownstudio.tumblr.com

New Products from Ampersand previewed at NAMTA

This year’s booth at NAMTA

 

At NAMTA last week, Ampersand introduced three new products that will be available at retailers in July.  I thought you might like a sneak peek at these goodies to wet your appetite for their arrival.

For those of you unfamiliar with NAMTA, the International Art Materials Trade Association, has an annual convention in the States every year attended by manufacturers, retailers, distributors and associates from around the world.  It is a gathering place of art material gurus, seminars, dinners, awards and a handful of new products that enter the industry.  Usually the convention is several hundred people and a large hall of product booths with artists demonstrating new materials.

 

This year, Ampersand introduced two new styles of the Artist Panel– a premium select Unprimed Basswood and a Primed Smooth panel that is completely primed on all sides.

The Unprimed Basswood accepts all types of painting grounds and is great for encaustic, mixed media, collage and wood engraving. 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 Primed Smooth panel has a fully primed white paintable top and sides that is ideal for all painting styles. The Primed Smooth wood panels are ready to use for painting with oils, acrylics and mixed media and also for mounting papers or canvas. Now artists can wrap their images over the edge without any extra prep work.

In addition to the current line of Artist Panels with canvas texture, both new Artist Panels are available in two standard cradled profiles, 7/8” and 1.5”, that are simple to hang or frame. 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. 

Keep in mind that all wood should be sealed and primed. For instructions on the proper way to prepare a panel for painting, visit www.sealandprime.com

 

Also at NAMTA, Ampersand revealed the new 1.5″ profile in both Claybord and Gessobord surfaces, which will be available at a number of retailers at the end of this month and more retailers at the end of July.

In the upcoming months, I’ll be able to share with you where the panels will be available and how you can purchase your own as well as some exciting new tools for panel users coming out in the summer.