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.
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,
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply
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