1 (800) 822-1939   USA toll free
+1 (512) 322-0278   outside the US

All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Michael Ireland

One of 5 pieces donated by Micheal to the Children’s Hospital


Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL


“Organic Leaves”


As a painter, Michael Ireland works on large-scale watercolors, something rarely seen in the medium, thus bringing him regular commissions for hospitals, businesses and homes across the country. His work transcends its tangible presence as a painting on the wall and brings calm and tranquility to those it’s near.  And Aquabord™ makes it all possible.

Michael, like many professional artists, has been involved with art his entire life. A one time musician, graphic designer and art director, Michael came back to painting, his true love, about twelve years ago. Watercolor has always been his medium of choice, ever since studying under  Irving Shapiro at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL.  The medium of watercolor, Michael says, “is both delicate and dynamic.  It is a cruel mistress.” Michael has certainly mastered the medium and has learned many life lessons through doing it.

Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL


Upon finding his passion for watercolor and not wanting to leave it to increase the scale of his work, Michael began searching for ways to sustainably go larger. During his search, he came upon Ampersand’s cradled Aquabord, 12″x12″. His new pieces sold quickly, challenging the queries of those skeptical of purchasing watercolors. The archival Aquabord didn’t require glass and could easily be varnished for protection instead. The use of glass caused some loss of sales as viewers complained of seeing only their reflections.

Still his desire to work larger wasn’t completely resolved. So, he began making grids of 30-40 square boards for shows and found his audience giddy with the idea. So, why not go even bigger?  After consulting with Andrea Pramuk, Marketing Director here at Ampersand, about the sizes available, Michael began ordering the largest panels he could get. He was buying 10 sheets at a time 4’x8′– truckloads. 

St.Joseph, Mt.Sterling, KY


Finding Aquabord was life changing. He explains that he wouldn’t have gone this route if the product were inferior. Finally, Michael could produce the work he wanted at the scale he wanted. He explained that “yes, it isn’t like working on cold press watercolor paper. There is some need to alter one’s approach, but the ability to remove color came as a revolutionary surprise”, says Michael. It is like having a tube of white in your hand. In order to risk altering his style in what he had already done on paper, Michael knew the result had to be well worth it. Being able to lift color off with a brush or sponge was life changing.   

Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, Elmhurst, IL


Along with successful selling, Michael found a niche teaching workshops for large-scale watercolors. Granted, there is the issue of physical space in these classes, so Michael limits them to only a few a year. Book early if you’d like to attend one of his workshops. 

Since Michael’s pieces are both beautiful and peaceful, they’ve been recommended to many hospitals across the country for waiting room areas. And, as the pieces do remarkably bring a sense of tranquility and beauty to an otherwise uncomfortable sitting, Michael is booked with commissions.

If you are enjoying Michael’s work, check out his website to see more and find out about his workshops:  www.irelandwatercolors.com

Gessobord™, Claybord™,  Hardbord™, Encausticbord™ and the Artist Panel are all on sale right now through the end of September.  Find a retailer near you:  Fall Sale  

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.