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All Things Ampersand

Ampersand Faces: Karyn Meyer-Berthel

Height

I first came upon Ampersand panels at a NAMTA conference several years ago.  I was impressed by the high quality craftsmanship, the professional look and the range in sizes and finishes.  This was just when Pastelbord™ had first come out, and Elaine Salazar gave me a sample to test.  I hoarded it for the longest time, knowing it was too beautiful to use.  But after attempting to create my own panels for a number of years, I found that Ampersand could do a better job at an affordable price for my needs.  I’m never shy about selling a work on these panels, because I know they will last.

I work in acrylics, the love affair I’ve had with them goes way back to junior high when I took a painting class during the summer.  I find the medium easy to use and clean up and incredibly versatile.  I know that there is so much more to explore in acrylics and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  Since I work primarily with layers and layers of acrylic paint, and more layers of high gloss mediums and varnishes, I needed a support that would hold up to the weight of the paint.  Some of my earlier large works were on canvas, but they began to sag and warp.  It was an easy transition to panel for the security of having proper support and an archival surface.  However, I’ve always liked the feel of working on canvas, even if the texture is covered up with layers of medium.  So, I started working with Hardbord first, to test out how to apply fabric to the panel and work from there.

Porcelain Blue
Diagonal

Sometimes, I will apply a completed painting to Hardbord™ and at other times, I will apply a fresh piece of canvas directly to the Hardbord to work.  With either process, I coat the Hardbord in a few layers of Soft Gel Gloss or Varathane Polyurethane.  I coat the entire panel, equally on all sides and edges, giving it plenty of time to dry.  Then, I use Soft Gel Gloss to adhere the fabric to the panel, or the painting to the panel.  If I am adhering just the fabric, I’ll coat the top with a mix of water and gel to pull the fabric to the surface, pushing it on with a soft cloth or hardware store brush.  Turning the panel face down, I place weight (usually books) on the back to press the fabric evenly on the surface.  Once the piece is thoroughly dry, I trim the edges with a sharp razor blade to show the unfinished cradle and then I finish as desired.  Often I will apply a heavy coat of MSA varnish to the pieces once they are trimmed.  

Once I started using Ampersand panels, I didn’t look back.  I haven’t yet tried all of the surfaces, especially the newer surfaces that came out this year.  However, I am thrilled with what each surface brings to my studio and art practice.  I am continually working to develop my style and push myself, and these panels offer more and more ideas with each type of medium.  I regularly use the Hardbord and Gessobord right now, but I’ve recently stepped into the Aquabord and Encausticbord, testing out more watercolor and mixed media.  And who knows what the new year will bring?

Thanks for reading my story.  If you want to see more of my work, check out my website.

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: How to Seal Hardbord Panels

 

Hardbord™ is one of the few panels we offer unprimed and unsealed as a raw wood surface. There can be great pleasure in working directly on raw wood. However, for long term stability, we recommend sealing all unprimed wood panels, including our own, to protect against support induced discoloration (SID), warping and adhesion issues. Whether you’re working in acrylics, oils, encaustics, alkyds or tempera, paint will adhere best to surfaces that have been properly prepared using archival practices.
 

 

A size is a thin solution (often a weak glue) that is brushed directly onto a support. Sizing or sealing is recommended to protect Ampersand’s uncoated panels from support-induced discoloration (SID) when using  acrylic gesso. If wood is not sized or sealed properly before applying the gesso, yellowing can occur because water [a solvent] can cause acids, occurring naturally in wood, to migrate to the surface. In fact, it is extremely important  to properly seal any and all un-primed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration (SID) that can cause your paint film to yellow over time. Hardbord™ is manufactured using Aspen fibers, a wood with a very low acid content, but it still needs to be sized and sealed. Sealing only the “paintable” side will possibly lead to warping if moisture or pollutants leach through the raw wood cradles or backing. So, seal the entire panel for the ultimate protection.  

To see first hand the effects of SID on a panel, check out this video from Golden:

 


To apply the size, use a wide flat brush to lay on 2 layers of GAC 100 or 4 layers of Gamblin PVA size, allowing each to dry completely before applying gesso layers. For more complete directions click here to read about sealing with Acrylic Gesso and click here to read about sealing with Oil Ground.


Some artists prefer having this work done for them, and by all means, feel free to purchase a Gessobord™, Aquabord™, Claybord™, Encausticbord or Pastelbord™ to suit your purposes.  Gessobord and Claybord, along with 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.

Fall Sale happening now: Claybord, Gessobord, Encausticbord and Artist Panel

The Fall Sale is on, so what does this mean for you?  And how can you get in on the action?

 

Well, a few times a year, Ampersand has a sale on a few of the products, which means that the Ampersand retailers can sell them 20%-50% off to you, the artist.  Not all the products go on sale each time, so you have to watch carefully for when your favorite panels are in the sales.  During each sale, the website, the blog and our social media outlets mention the products and places where you can purchase them easily.  

This September, Claybord™, Gessobord, Hardbord Encausticbord and the Artist Panel are all on sale.  For a quick reminder on all the pros of each panel, check the list below and notice the new products:  Artist Panel Primed Smooth and Artist Panel Unprimed Basswood as well as 1.5″ profiles for Claybord and Gessobord.   

Claybord

Patti’s New Bowl, colored pencil on Gessobord by Kendra Ferreira

•  Superior performance with mixed media

•  Ultra-smooth, highly absorbent finish
•  Ideal for inks, acrylics, pencil and gouache

Gessobord
•  Ideal for oils and acrylics
•  Consistently even, bright white finish
•  Perfect level of absorbency for paints

Hardbord

•  Build up your own painting surfaces
•  Accepts all types of gesso grounds
•  Eco-friendly, high-density Aspen fiber core

Encausticbord
•  Ready-to-use encaustic gesso surface
•  Use with encaustic, collage, inks and mixed media
•  Absorbent and heat resistant

“Tree of Life”, by Andrea Pramuk, on Artist Panel

 

The Artist Panel Canvas Texture

•  Ready to use with oils and acrylics
•  Achieve better and truer color
•  Medium canvas texture for optimum paint control

New!  The Artist Panel Primed Smooth
•  Fully primed top and sides
•  Super smooth acrylic gesso finish
•  Ideal for oils, acrylics and pencil

New! The Artist Panel Unprimed Basswood
•  Good with all painting grounds
•  Smooth uniform basswood finish
•  Free of knots, seams and raised fibers

New! Ampersand 1.5” Cradle Profiles
•  Fit into floater frames (1.5” total depth)
•  Paint, wax or stain the sides
•  Choose from Claybord™ or Gessobord™

To find a retailer in the sale near you:  Fall Sale 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.

Featured Artist: Jennifer Redstreake Geary

Jennifer Redstreake Geary, both a full time mom and full time graphic designer is also a prolific artist who is highly sought after for her work in watercolor and pastel.  Her work as an artist began before kindergarten, and she found solace in drawing throughout high school and college.  Only recently, did watercolors found their way into her repertoire when a friend introduced Aquabord™ to her as an alternative surface to paper.

“Savanah With Green Gloves”, 8″ x10″, 2011, watercolor on Aquabord

 

Poor materials turned Jennifer off to watercolors years ago, when her first workshop included flimsy paper, poor brushes and a cheap watercolor pan.  So turned off in fact, she refused to try another class or to ever use watercolor again.  An admirer of Jennifer’s pastel work suggested she try again, but this time using Aquabord and much better paints.

“I was skeptical,” Jennifer explains.  “How could this be any different than painting on paper?  I took it home along with a palette full of Daniel Smith watercolors that she squeezed for me to try.  I painted a cactus fruit.  It was ‘love at first brush stroke’, so to speak.”  It was the color and control Jennifer had over the working surface and paint that drew her into painting.  Since Aquabord is rigid, the surface doesn’t wrinkle like paper and with an absorbent surface, the paint glides on, layers easily, and is simple to remove in subtractive techniques.   “Using Daniel Smith watercolors along with Aquabord is the perfect marriage, to me, of mediums.  I feel as if I am creating ‘GOOD’ artwork for the first time,” Jennifer shares.  To finish her pieces, Jennifer uses 3-4 coats of varnish, a Krylon Satin Varnish, sprayed evenly in opposing directions for ideal coverage.

“Golden Eyes”, 9″ x 12″, 2011, soft pastel on Pastelbord

 

Since Jennifer also teaches classes in her spare moments, she has introduced her own students to Aquabord.  New artists can really benefit from using quality supplies when they begin with a medium.  Unlike Jennifer’s own first watercolor class experience, her students walk away with a successful piece, and they return to her classes.

Long before Jennifer started using Aquabord, though, she was using Pastelbord™ and Hardbord™.  Since it was drawing and soft pastel that first drew her into arts, she found her way to Pastelbord via the advice of another good friend.  Hardbord was another natural gravitation for her collage and mixed media work.  The Hardbord surface takes gesso well, after being sealed, and is a perfect solution for mixed media.  The cradled frame is ideal for these pieces as they are ready to hang when complete and sell quite well for her at art festivals and on Etsy.

If you would like to experience Aquabord firsthand with a seasoned painter, Jennifer teaches watercolor classes at the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center in Tullahoma, TN.  To join the class or learn more about her work and commissions, contact her via her blog or website: www.redstreakeart.com.

 

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

Top Ten Reasons for Painting on Ampersand Panels

In today’s art supply market, artists have a plethora of surfaces to choose from to create their work. We’d like to share some information regarding the advantages of painting on not just a rigid panel, but the true advantages of painting on an Ampersand panel that has been well prepared. 

     

  1. Well-prepared rigid panels are the best support for an artwork — It is difficult, over time, for a stretched canvas to support thick layers of oil colors, acrylic paints or alkyds without resulting in cracking of the paint film. Stretched canvas is also much more susceptible to atmospheric changes in moisture and temperature – again affecting the stability of the artwork over time. Rigid substrates, on the other hand, can support heavy bodied paints and thick layers without cracking. Paintings on prepared wood panels from the 3rd and 4th centuries are still in tact without cracking of the paint film
  2. Archiva-Seal™ barrier technology protects your art — All wood panels should be sealed before applying the painting ground and before painting on the surface. Have you ever used a pure white gesso ground directly on wood only to discover that it looks yellow or marbled? Not with Ampersand’s acid-free surfaces. Ampersand’s hardboard supports are first properly sealed with Archiva-Seal™. Ampersand uses this unique patented barrier technology to seal the hardboard preventing any support-induced discoloration and any separation of the painting ground from the panel. 
  3. Acid-free surfaces from top to bottom — Every single ground Ampersand uses is acid-free and long lasting, from the smooth absorbent clay ground of Claybord™ to the bright acrylic gesso ground of Gessobord™.
  4. High-density hardboard engineered for stability — All of Ampersand’s Museum Series panels are made with premium US made hardboard that has a high-density fiber core engineered for maximum dimensional stability. Ampersand’s hardboard outperforms MDF and raw wood panels when it comes to eliminating panel warping and bowing.
  5. Museum Series Sampler

     

  6. Easy to frame or not to frame — There is no need to frame the cradled panels as they are ready to hang as soon as the painting is complete. Only Ampersand cradle support frames are handcrafted with 13-ply stable Birch plywood that can be painted, stained, waxed or left unfinished. Ampersand offers up a few hanging tips and cradle treatments here: Hanging Tips
  7. Choose from a variety of finishes without having to seal and prime — Claybord™, Encausticbord™, Pastelbord™, Gessobord™, Scratchbord™ and Aquabord™ are all ready to use right away without the need to seal, prime and gesso the panel. And, if you want to prepare your own special ground, you can use Hardbord™.
  8. Many popular standard sizes and profiles — Ampersand has a wealth of sizes and cradle profiles, choose from over 500 configurations. Download a pdf of the complete list here:  Sizes and Profiles
  9. Panels can support any paint medium — Any medium can be applied to one of Ampersand’s panels:  pastel, charcoal, acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, alkyd, casein, ink, oil pastel, oil bar, encaustic, egg tempera and more. For tips on which panel might be right for you, here’s a panel comparison chart:  Panel Comparison Chart
  10. Made from FSC certified sustainable US forest products — Using wood panels can be daunting, knowing that trees are processed to make them, however, Ampersand takes the environment seriously and although more expensive, they choose FSC certified wood products from US forests that are renewable and sustainable. FSC certification is the most effective environmental standard for the protection of wildlife, soil and water quality. Ampersand hardboard is also manufactured using a completely green process: no harmful chemicals used, no hazardous waste and no gas emissions for the end consumer—and completely formaldehyde-free.
  11. Made in the USA — Ampersand official headquarters is located in Austin, Texas providing manufacturing jobs in their community and the highest quality products for artists nationwide.
    ~Karyn