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All Things Ampersand

Panel Edges

Recently, we had a question about SID effecting the paint on the panel edges.  An artist was concerned about paint on the edges of the untreated panel, not cradle, and how that might effect his work long term.  Below, Dana Brown answers the question.

“The condition of SID is one of acrylic paint and acrylic dispersion ground (acrylic gesso). We make broad recommendations to sealing the painting surfaces of wood, as a separate step from priming, primarily due to the common use of acrylic gesso as a primer, but also to maintain a painting surface that is as acid-free as possible. It is also based on an understanding that proper habits can become good practice when using various materials. We know that sometimes artists will pick up a piece of wood to use as a substrate, not knowing its density or acid-level, and sealing the panel will give the painting a ‘fighting chance,’ of lasting.

Because of the differing characteristics of each paint type mentioned, I will address each separately.

Acrylics dripped over the edge (that thin, 1/8” thickness) will encounter some level of acids. It will also take on a level of discoloration. Support Induced Discoloration (SID) is not a dark blackening or even a dark browning of the paint film, and it is generally only noticeable in areas of white and generally only in the wettest of applications. This is why it is commonly associated with the applications of acrylic gesso, applied directly onto a wooden support. Areas of color mixtures or darker colors, especially when applied undiluted or more thickly, will not display noticeable discoloration in the same sense. If the entire acrylic painting is done onto an unsealed wooden surface, the levels of acids in the wood (which vary greatly from wood species and type) can cause damage to the artwork. The amount of acid or discoloration from a 1/8” edge is very small and will not put the painting in jeopardy of lasting or any continuous damage. The acid level in our hardboards is nearly neutral at that, and it is one of the reasons that we selected aspen as the overlay for our product. To sum up in reference to acrylic paint, if the drips or painted edge are white, applied quite wet, or thinly, discoloration may be noticeable. To prevent this, you can apply GAC 100 or PVA Size to the edges to create a barrier seal to the exposed, cut edges. For most painters’ practices, the effect of a few drips over the edge of a 1/8” thick panel is not damaging to the artwork or its appearance, and its durability is not at risk.

Gouache and oil colors are not susceptible to SID and the reason to carefully seal the panel before priming is again a rule of thumb, put forth by the general practice of acrylic dispersion grounds and acrylic based priming layers. The main issue with gouache dripping over the edge or being painted on the edge of a dark, brown panel is mainly that the edge may not be sufficiently absorbent to give a lasting mechanical bond between the paint and the panel’s edge. Also, the dark, brown tone may cause paint applications to look darker, requiring multiple applications.

For oil colors, there is also no risk of SID. The risk is more of great amounts of oil paint, directly applied to wood, soaking into the wood and oxidizing within the structure of the wood. This is even contentious amongst art conservationists and may be less of a risk than previously believed. The 1/8” thick edge of a panel will not allow for a risky level of oxidation within the wood support. The oils in oil colors will actually pass on some conditioning or preservation qualities to the wooden support, similar to applying oil to wooden furniture to recondition it.”

-Dana Brown
Artist & Customer Support at Ampersand

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

Featured Artist: Ginger Gehres

North Carolina artist, Ginger Gehres, was one of our three artists back in the spring that won our “Share your Studio” contest.  With such a strong affection for Ampersand panels and a wide range of experience in art, it was an easy choice to support her work here on our blog.

Ginger’s life long affair with art is truly life-long.  “I never knew I wasn’t an artist. One of my Grandmothers was a fine artist, the other was an excellent sewer, my Dad built homes and my Mom could paint, but preferred artisanal craft work and she was a professional dancer at one time. Creativity was the norm in our home,” she explains.  It isn’t that Ginger hasn’t taken the time to hone her talent with the study from professionals, but she did get a jump start on her learning with an internationally recognized artist grandmother, Twyla Rose.  
Ampersand panels came into Ginger’s life relatively recently when she found them at a local Jerry’s Artarama.  She liked working on the hard surface with acrylics, and appreciated their durability.  “In November of 2011, Susie Willis, a friend and fellow artist, ask me to come with her to Art of the Carolinas sponsored by Jerry’s.  I’d never been and was overjoyed when I saw the Ampersand booth,” she explains.  Along with other art material manufacturers, Ampersand was there selling panels and demonstrating how to work on them.  “I was stocking up on boards when I saw a striking flower on a black background as a display piece. I had no clue it would change my whole perspective on art. I was told that it was “scratchboard” and Dana, one of Ampersand’s very fine folks, explained how it was done.  I tried out the giraffe in Sally Maxwell’s book, got hooked and never turned back!”

Ginger primarily works in Scratchbord and Claybord with acrylic, always doing more than one project at a time.  Her studio is laid out so that she can work on tables or an easel, with a dog or two nearby.  Her subject matter is simply a matter of what comes to her, what subjects draw her in emotionally.  Her new challenges are working on textures in the Scratchbord, fur, skin, scales, metal or rust.  “I found a toad in a nursery a few years ago and my husband discovered me on the ground, taking it’s picture.  Thankfully, he’s not easily embarrassed and I was able to do a scratchboard piece that had warts,” says Ginger.

Ginger just finished the June show in Vancouver for The International Society of Scratchbord Artists where she had three pieces juried in, and she is the current exhibition director where she’ll be heavily involved in the annual juried show in 2014 in Cary, NC.  You can find Ginger online, she is part of the Scratchbord Group on Facebook, has her own page and website where you can see more of her work, graphic design and illustration. 

Our fall sales event is starting soon, 20-50% off on Claybord, Gessobord, Hardbord, Encausticbord and The Artist Panel at select 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.

Panel Painting Tips: Image Transfer on Claybord™

Image Transfer and Collage:  A Demonstration by Dana Brown using Claybord™

My artwork often involves combining several techniques and materials. Ampersand Claybord™ is great for this kind of work because it is so versatile. The strong, rigid panel can take the pressure of a transfer process without bending or tearing. Its smooth surface allows for a clean transfer and collage materials make a perfectly flush connection. I also really like that Claybord is an archival surface and that the panel is well sealed and primed.

For this demo, I combined a color copy transfer with collage. I began by selecting an image for the transfer. I chose a family photograph in digital format. I resized it and reversed the image left-to-right on my computer with image software. I flipped the image because in the transferring process, it will print in reverse. Once the image was ready, I printed it out on a color copier. Alternatively, you can resize and reverse a printed photograph by using a color copier directly.

Positioning the image


Next, I prepared the 9″x12″ Claybord with 3/4″ cradle for the transfer. I used a 3″ foam brush to apply Daniel Smith’s World’s Best White Acrylic Gesso to the surface. This layer should be evenly applied so that it adheres well to the color copy and doesn’t dry too quickly. Daniel Smith’s gesso works great for this step because it is already the perfect viscosity right out of the can.

Apply pressure before flipping over


To make sure I positioned the image correctly, I set the color copy face-up on the table and lay the gessoed Claybord face-down onto the image. Then, I applied pressure to the back and flipped the panel over.

Burnish the image with a rubber brayer


The next step is to burnish the image to the panel. The purpose of this step is to make sure that the gesso adheres properly to the ink from the copy. You can smooth the back of the image copy with your hands. While this works, it can result in a inconsistent and irregular transfer. Likewise, too much pressure can either tear the paper or squeeze too much gesso out from under the paper causing faint areas or areas with no transfer at all. The method that I find works best is to use a rubber brayer, rolling from the middle out to the sides using medium pressure. This pushes out any air bubbles and achieves a flat, even bond. Make sure to go over the entire image thoroughly with the brayer or it can result in an uneven or poor transfer. For a good bond, it is very important to make sure there is enough gesso on the Claybord, especially on the surrounding and outer edges of the panel.

Rubbing the paper off gently


Once the gesso is dry, begin removing the paper from the surface, so that the ink from the copy is left intact in the gesso layer. This is done by dissolving the paper with water. Slowly remove the paper by dipping your fingers into the water and gently rubbing it off the surface. This part of the process generally takes 2-3 passes to remove all of the paper lint. The first pass allows you to remove most of the paper as well as the excess paper hanging over the sides. Be extra careful with the edges of the image so that you do not peel or rub the ink away too. This is the most fragile area of the transfer. For best results, start rubbing from the center of the panel outward and in one direction only or the edges of the image might peel up. Do not be afraid to re-wet the area if the paper is not rubbing away. After the first pass, I allow a few minutes for the surface to dry slightly. This makes it easier to see where the paper lint is still on the image. These areas will look “faded” or “dull”. When finished, the transfer surface will feel consistent and smooth.

Finished work


There are many different uses for image transfers. Because the surface is Claybord, you can paint, collage, print on, or even scratch into the transfer with Ampersand Scratchbord™ tools.  I decided to collage on top of the transfer. I “drew” shapes by connecting small magazine strips to make lines and curves. I used Lineco neutral pH adhesive to attach the tiny papers to the transfer. To finish, I brushed Golden® soft gel medium over the artwork to seal it. Then, I attached hanging hardware directly to the back of the cradle.

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

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