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All Things Ampersand

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.

Acrylic Painting on Ampersand Panels

Ampersand really does provide a surface for every style of painting and medium out there.  With the variety of surfaces, it can be tough to choose which surface is right for you, especially if the medium is so versatile, like acrylic.  Let’s take a look at the properties of both and what works best with this medium.
Acrylics, or acrylic dispersion paint, is relatively new to the art world, coming into its own as the paint it is today in the early 60’s.  Acrylic paint is pigment that has been dispersed, or evenly homogenized and stabilized in an acrylic binder, which differs depending on the brand of paint you use.

Unlike any other painting medium, many raw materials may be added to provide a variety of working properties.  Brilliant color and quick drying time are commonly known attributes of acrylic paints. A variety of additives can control the thicknesses, density, hardness, flexibility and gloss levels of the paint.  As such, acrylics are a versatile medium, able to adhere to almost anything, work quickly as a watercolor wash or go on super heavy like alla prima oil paint.  They can work as washes under colored pencil, pastel, graphite, charcoal or ink.  And, they can handle specialized additives like marble dust, granite or pumice.  Acrylics can also be printed on via an inkjet printer or they can be used to embed an image from a printer.  Acrylics can be used to seal a watercolor painting, seal a raw panel, prime a raw canvas or “be the canvas” themselves.  Acrylics are so versatile that it seems they would work on any Ampersand panel.  And, while that is true, here are some thoughts about using acrylic on specific Ampersand boards.

Wilson’s Plovers, Acrylic by Ginger Gehres
  •  Gessobord™, our #1 recommendation, was designed with acrylics in mind for both thin washes and thick strokes of paint. To make Gessobord, we use a professional quality acrylic gesso that is sanded to a finely textured and slightly absorbent finish. Gessobord works well with gel mediums, scraping tools, palette knives and heavy layering. And now, it comes in a 1 1/2″ profile that fits into standard gallery and floater frames or that can be painted or stained to finish.
  • Claybord™ excels with thinned acrylic watercolor techniques because it’s highly absorbent, vellum-smooth and extremely forgiving with changes and clean-up. Like Gessobord, it’s also now available in the 1 1/2” cradle.
  • With more fluid and thinned acrylic paints, only Claybord™ allows for additive and subtractive art techniques. Easily remove color or add lines and texture with the Ampersand scratch tools and oil-free steel wool adding dimension and clarity to your image.
  • Since Claybord™ is so absorbent, when trying to preserve color, always thin down your acrylics with the appropriate medium, like a matte acrylic medium, for example, rather than with water.
  • Aquabord™ is more textured and absorbent than Claybord and allows for a more even build-up of paint layers and stacked brush strokes similar to using a cold press paper. Since it’s designed for use with watercolor, it’s also amazing with acrylic wash techniques and mixed media.
  • Pastelbord™ is also a viable option because it offers a longer open working time with acrylics due to its clay, gesso and marble dust finish that is not only finely textured, but also absorbent. This unique ground allows seamless flows and washes better than on any of our other surfaces.
  • Pastelbord™ comes in three great colors and white already, but can be easily toned with an acrylic color wash for your own choice of under-painting color.
  • Encausticbord™, originally designed for the unique demands of encaustic painting, is also an ideal choice for those looking to use acrylics alone or with mixed media and collage. The surface is sanded smoother than the Gessobord and is also a bit more absorbent. Encausticbord functions well for all types of acrylic paint applications. We don’t recommend using acrylics with encaustic paint, however, because the wax will not permanently bond with it.
  • “Orange you glad” Acrylic on Encausticbord by Ginger Gehres
  • For Scratchbord™ art, acrylics can be thinned down and used to color the white scratched-in areas. Our Scratchbord is coated with jet black india ink, but reveals the white underneath when scratches are made — it’s a smooth white clay surface that accepts all types of watermedia.
All of the Museum Series Ampersand surface coatings I just mentioned are pH neutral, acid-free and archival.

For more information on specific panels with acrylic paint, check out the articles below: