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All Things Ampersand

Colored Pencil on Pastelbord™

“Pastelbord™ has become my surface of choice for colored pencil. The consistently even sanded surface holds so many layers of color! I’ve come to rely on the sturdiness of the board—no more worries about tearing or creasing paper. Finally, having the option of varnishing my finished work, and framing without matting or glass is a huge bonus.” ~Liz Patterson

  1. I begin with a simple line drawing to establish the basic shapes of the composition on the Pastelbord™. I try to use a color that is close to that of each of the objects.
  2. I block in the very lightest areas with white, then continue blocking in colors: lights, brights, darks, and any geometric designs such as the checkered cloth. I often start off with color that is quite a bit brighter, or deeper than what the final desired appearance will be, keeping in mind how I might want the successive layers to interact with it.
  3. I continue layering color, moving around the composition, occasionally changing my focus: hue, value, form, intensity, and finishing up with small details and the refining of edges. Applying a workable matte fixative spray a few times while working allows me to put down more layers of colored pencil. The variations that come and go in this layering are many and it’s the little hints of these, peeking out here and there on the sand colored Pastelbord’s textured surface, that give an energy and vitality that I love.
  4. When the work is complete, some of the surface is thickly covered with colored pencil almost to a paint-like finish, while other areas allow more of the board’s texture and even bits of its original sand color to show. I like this “selective focus” effect resulting in the eye being drawn to the most refined areas in the drawing. To finish, I prefer to varnish my drawings, but this is optional. See how-to varnish colored pencils below.
How-to varnish colored pencils
Use five coats of gloss Prismacolor® Final Fixative allowing 15 mins. between coats. Let dry overnight. Then, varnish with three coats of Golden® Polymer gloss Varnish thinned 2 parts varnish to 1 part water. Apply using a soft wide brush; allow three hours between coats. After one week, frame without glass.

To see more of Liz’s work and process, follow her blog:  www.lizpatterson.blogspot.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.

Featured Artist: Donna Slade

Floating on Fence, 18″ x 6″

North Carolina artist Donna Slade has a lengthy career as an illustrator and commercial artist, but has settled full time into painting and owning a gallery.  She shares with us her preference for Pastelbord™ and how it has fit into her move from graphite to colored pencil.

“My passion for art has spanned over a 30-year award-winning career as a commercial artist,
graphic designer, and illustrator to recently becoming a full time painter and gallery owner. Throughout my career in advertising, I always managed to find time to paint.
Vintage Mix, 18″ x 15″
I tried a number of mediums starting with pen and ink and pencil, but grew tired of just the black and white art. In 1990, there was a small group of artists that were working with colored pencil. At the time, there was very little to no information and instruction on using colored pencils. Through this desire and effort to share knowledge of work with colored pencil, the Colored Pencil Society of America was founded. Today it is an international association hosting yearly, juried exhibits and local chapters across the US. I have been hooked on colored pencil ever since. This explosion of color also led me to explore pastel painting. Now I work exclusively in colored pencil and pastel.
A number of years ago my favorite surface for my colored pencil paintings was discontinued. I tried a number of surfaces before I found Ampersand Pastelbord, a clay and gesso coated hardboard panel with a marble dust finish.  The Pastelbord comes in standard sizes but I also have placed orders for specific non-standard sizes as well. It comes in grey, green, sand and white. Most of my paintings are done on the grey, but I have used both the green and sand depending on the subject matter of my painting. The color grain of the board will influence the overall tone of the painting. The color background gives me a good base and saves some time with the colored pencil layering process. The surface allows the right amount of tooth to hold the pencil and pastel but at the same time allows me to put down and build up as many layers as needed. In some cases four to eight layers of color.

My Kiss, 11″ x 14″
In addition to being the perfect surface for my colored pencil paintings, the Pastelbord allows me to bypass the perils and cost of framing with mats and glass. Once I finish a colored pencil painting I use a spray varnish, Krylon Crystal Clear Spray, several layers, over the entire painting. In addition to the cost savings the paintings seem more approachable to the viewer allowing them to touch and feel the surface of the piece.
I add color gradually working from dark to light. Layering allows me to build increasingly complex values, hues and textures. Because the pencil color is transparent this layering/blending process allows an endless color palette.  I use a blending process of layering colors and merging them together. I gradually build the  the layers of color using a light to medium pressure which gives me a rich, illusion of depth to my paintings. I keep my pencil extremely sharp at all times and use a mixture of crosshatching, horizontal, diagonal, vertical, or circular strokes.

Maine Stream, 18″ x 6″
My paintings are imagined, planned and executed in a representational, realistic style. The paintings are not a photographic moment in time but represent a unique artistic interpretation through observation. I emphasize movement, pattern, light and dark in my paintings. My work is diverse in subject matter, ranging from still life’s that take a close-up look at the beauty of ordinary objects, to landscapes that capture the grace and rhythms of nature. I love being involved in the creation of a variety of concepts. I seek to provide a place for the viewer to find curiosity and appreciation for the process of creation.”

For more information on Donna Slade’s work and accomplishments, visit New Bern ArtWorks & Company Fine Art Gallery or her website at:  donnasladeart.com

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
mpersand Art Supply 

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

Featured Artist: Ranjini Venkatachari

“Epiphany”, at the UKCPS show


Washington based artist, Ranjini Venkatachari, another wonderful colored pencil artist, has shared her work with us and her process of working on Pastelbord™.  She explains why Pastelbord’s surface has worked so easily for her style and experimentation.  “I like working on surfaces that have a little bit of texture compared to smooth ones like a hotpress paper. I do not make my work look completely smooth, I really like the texture of the board showing through to some extent in the end.

With Pastelbord, Ranjini uses the grit in the surface to blend her Neocolors and colored pencil, working with a stiff bristle brush.  She has also mastered a technique to correct mistakes by working through the layers of pigment down to the grit of the surface, which remains intact. “If there is a mistake in the Neocolor layer, the board can be cleaned off with just plain water. If I have something to erase after I have started the colored pencil on top of the neocolors, I use the battery operated eraser.  Even if you have to get through a painted neocolor layer, the battery-operated eraser easily gets right through and the grit still remains to add color on top.” 

Line Drawing, Necolor II, then Colored Pencil on top


Pastelbord has even inspired Ranjini to test oil pastels and to combine her colored pencil with soft pastel.  She originally began working in graphite, as she has always had a tendency for drawing.  Pencils are portable, easy to clean up and little health risk.  So, it was natural for her to gravitate to colored pencil once she moved to the United States from India in 2003. 

When she first began using colored pencils, Ranjini was working on paper.  But quality materials, in both Pastelbord and Neocolor II, dramatically changed her work.  She was able to work more quickly, layer the colored pencil as she was accustomed and work in both wet and dry media together.  Plus, no framing needed!  Ranjini finishes her work with 4-8 coats of Lascaux fixative and then sprays with a Damar/UV varnish.  

“Cherry Delight”, 9″ x 12


To catch a glimpse of Ranjini’s colored pencil works in person, you can see her show at the Nuneaton Art Gallery for the UK Colored Pencil Society through November 25, 2012.  She is also showing with Women Painters of Washington’s Traveling show starting in November at the Schack Art Center in Everett, WA.

To see more of Ranjini’s work online, keep updated on her workshop schedule and shows, or to see works in progress, visit her blog and website.  

And just for fun, check out this video demo of Ranjini’s work on Pastelbord:


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: Kendra Ferreira

Box Lids for the upcoming show at the Providence Art Club


Rhode Island artist, Kendra Ferreira, is currently working on a series of Claybord™ Boxes for an exhibit at the Providence Art Club in Providence, Rhode Island.  The show opens this month, but you can take a sneak peek here of both the lids and inside images.  These works on the lids are image transfer and colored pencil.  

Inside images for the boxes


Kendra found Ampersand through the Colored Pencil Society of America.  There is a chapter in the New England area that meets regularly and discusses ideas about their work, materials, etc.  Someone shared Pastelbord™ and Kendra tried it out.  Since about 2004, Kendra has worked on Gessobord™, Pastelbord and Claybord for her artwork, trying them with the various mediums she uses– oils, pastels and colored pencil.  Her galleries asked her to move away from framing with glass, so Kendra needed a viable substrate that would hold up archivally and protect her work.  With the right combination of panel and varnish, Kendra found a solution.  Since Kendra’s works are so vibrant, people often mistake her colored pencil work for paintings.  Kamar varnish and Golden UVLS polymer varnish create the perfect finish for her pieces.


Even though Kendra has a full background in printmaking, oil painting, pastel and figure drawing, plus loads of foundational drawing, her love is colored pencil.  With it, she can do experimentation in both drawing and painting.  Gamsol odorless mineral spirits, applied by brush, open the door for the medium to become fluid and work like paint.  When working on Gessobord, Kendra primes it first with a sanded pastel primer, Colorfix, and then she can use a brush to push the pencil into the grooves.  With a Claybord substrate, Kendra often mounts the work with double tack mounting film after preparing the image on illustration board or paper.  

Besides a full time career as an artist, Kendra also teaches workshops in colored pencil, pastel and drawing.  She is starting an Art Boot camp this month, in fact.  To find out more, you can contact her directly:  Art Boot Camp

To learn more about Kendra and see her upcoming works as well as read about her process, follow her blog or check out her website:  www.kjfdesign.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.

Featured Artist: Cynthia Haase

“In the Pink”, 4″ x 4″, oil on Gessobord


“I love drama, not in my life, but in my paintings.” ~Cynthia Haase

Cynthia Haase was given a set of pastels and a pad of paper from a neighbor friend when she was young planting her love affair with art.  She continued her pastel work and moved into colored pencils into adulthood even though life called her to work full time for a while to care for her family.  In 1992, she was able to leave the corporate world to pursue her passion for art full time.

Haase took time in her self-directed study to work under Deborah Bays who gave her a deep appreciation for atmosphere, lighting and a sense of drama in her work.  It has only been a recent move to oil painting for Haase as she picked up a paint brush in 2010 and began painting daily, bringing the same atmosphere to her paintings as she has to her colored pencil work and pastel paintings.  

Since Haase already had a background using Pastelbord™ as a favorite surface for her colored pencil and pastel work, she picked up Gessobord™ and found that her oil painting style worked well with the coated panels.  Haase explains, “the smooth surface of Gessobord best allows me to achieve big brushstrokes with thin paint in some areas and thick paint in others.  I also love soft edges and Gessobord allows my brush to slide so smoothly to create that softness. You can either fight with a surface or you can focus on what you do best and assume the surface is going to help you.”

Blue Sake Pitcher, 8″ x 10″, Pastel on Pastelbord

In choosing quality art materials like Gessobord or Pastelbord, Haase shares that the high quality and archival features of the panels are top priorities in her work.  She also finds that the sizes she prefers in the bords pack and ship well to her clientele with no fuss. 

Haase has been dedicated to the arts industry in many facets as she is the current President of the Colored Pencil Society, and the President of the Lakewood Arts Council, a member of the Colorado Pastel Society, a member of the Daily Paintworks, Daily Painter Originals and Fresh Paint Daily Painters. 

To see more of Cynthia Haase’s work, visit her blog or her website: Cynthiahaase.com