1 (800) 822-1939   USA toll free
+1 (512) 322-0278   outside the US

All Things Ampersand

Understanding Aquabord™

Having a Ball with a Red Lily by Jennifer Redstreake Geary

Aquabord™ is a clay coated hardboard panel that gives watercolorists unprecedented freedom and control. Comparable to watercolor paper, this multimedia panel simulates the absorbency and texture of cold pressed paper but allows color to be lifted back to white easily while also leaving the richest, most vibrant color possible. 

What sets Aquabord apart from watercolor paper?
 

❖ Watercolors and gouache, when used on Aquabord, are richer and more vibrant than when used on paper. 

❖ Aquabord is also very forgiving. If you make a mistake – just wash it off! 

❖ The surface is pH neutral and acid free and when sealed, it will last forever.

❖ Don’t worry about lint residue, torn paper, or using masking fluid because Aquabord is very forgiving and durable and will hold up to repeated wetting and scraping.

❖ You can even add fine lines and details with a scratch knife or other Claybord Tools which will bring back the white of the board.

❖ To create natural looking highlights and bring the light back into your painting, use a wet sponge, cotton swabs, white erasers or a clean brush to lift and remove colors with ease. 

❖ Paint as heavily as desired because Aquabord won’t warp, crack, or bend like paper when using heavy paint applications.   

How to Begin:
A Bunch of Gourds by Jennifer Redstreake Geary

This museum quality panel has a soft, absorbent, mineral coating with a unique granular texture. You may notice small “pin-like” protrusions once you lay down your washes and you will also see tiny bubbles forming on the surface. This is normal. We recommend “flushing out” Aquabord before beginning your painting by simply applying an even wash of water with a large brush over the entire surface. Let the air escape. Once the board is back to a damp stage, you can begin working on it. Beginning with this method will result in a more even wash. The sponge-like granules absorb the water and pigment allowing incredible control over color and washes. The surface’s clay-base holds colors in suspension, allowing them to flow into each other to create seamless washes when the board is wet or dry. 


How to Seal:  

Seal finished watercolors or gouache with several light coats of spray varnish (or fixative), being careful to spray outdoors during warmer months or in a well ventilated and heated area during colder times of the year. We recommend the Krylon® UV Archival varnishes.  These spray varnishes offer advanced non-yellowing protection against fading, dirt, moisture and discoloration. The Krylon® UV Archival varnishes contain superior levels of UV light absorbers and are removable for conservation purposes. For additional protection against scratches during transport and also ultraviolet light, follow the application of Krylon® spray varnish with Golden® MSA UVLS or Golden® Polymer UVLS varnish. About 4 coats brushed-on, provides a very durable archival finish and is also removable for conservation purposes. 

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.