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All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Mark Battista

It is actually more cost effective to use good quality materials and get the most out of the hours developing their craft, rather than slow down their learning by limiting themselves with inferior products.” ~Mark Battista

Madonna di Castello Buccino

Connecticut artist and teacher, Mark Battista works in a variety of media, interchanging watercolor, oil and charcoal depending on the subject matter and the feeling he wants to impress.  Mark’s work flows out of his own photography, travel and experiences.  Currently, his work explores the universal theme of change. . . the changing landscape, its structures and its inhabitants.  In turn, Mark chooses the media best suited to represent the concept.  He shares further, “When interested in capturing a fleeting impression, gesture and specific quality of light, I often work in watercolor.  For my more finished images and images that I really want to explore details, textures and form, I use oil on Gessobord™.  The consistent surface texture of the Ampersand panels responds so well to washes, block-ins and fine detailed and impasto work.  The board surface allows the brush and paint to feel like an extension of oneself.”  

For years, Mark prepared his own panels, as his former professors stressed the need to work on masonite.  Once teaching and family life set in, Mark needed a more efficient way to work, and his research looking for a pH balanced surface brought him to Ampersand.  “From the first initial wash, I knew that this was the surface that I was looking for.  I love the quality of the surface right bout of the box, but have also experimented with adding a few thicker more textured layers of acrylic gesso on the board for a less uniform surface,” he explains.

Mark encourages his students to purchase the best materials they can afford.  He finds that good materials effect the work process and the final outcome.  “When using good grounds, brushes and paints, one can concentrate on trying to express themselves in the most honest way possible without spending time and energy dealing with inferior products and materials.  I also value those who purchase my work and believe in only selling images made on the best materials possible, so they will hold up over time,” Mark shares.

You can see Mark’s work in person at the Case Memorial Library Gallery in Orange, CT with the show Double Vision,  opening on August 7, 2014 and running through the month of August.  Mark is showing his photography alongside his paintings in conjunction with his nephew’s photography.  Mark is also represented by the DaSilva Gallery and the Frame Shop Gallery of New Haven, CT.

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.

Mark Battista’s Oil Painting on Gessobord

Figure 1

“The painting was inspired by a woman that was watching a procession in a small piazza in Italy. The title of the work is The Braid, Buccino, Italy by Mark Battista, oil on Ampersand Gessobord™.

I am usually inspired by a particular subject, light quality, shadow pattern or overall mood based on a life experience. When not able to work from life, I try to work from a combination of quick sketches, color studies and photographs.  I will often spend days creating quick thumbnail studies in order to work out the basic abstract underlying forms, value structure and elements of the design. All the detail in the world can not substitute for a well designed composition.

Once the design has been determined, I will sketch the drawing onto the Ampersand Gessobord. Sometimes the sketch is done with vine charcoal, working from large masses of shapes and slowly refined. Other times the sketch is done in pencil and generalized forms are slowly developed. A light series of cross hatched lines indicates shadows and planes of the face.

Figure 2

The sketch is fixed and then a very diluted wash of oil paint and turpentine is applied over the board. Occasionally, a rag is used to gently pat the surface if a less textured result is desired. The board is allowed to completely dry. (fig. 1)

Linseed oil is introduced gradually more and more into the linseed oil painting medium.  I begin painting in the large masses by establishing the major shadows, mid tone and light areas of the subject. Major value changes are adjusted and their relationship to each other is continually evaluated and adjusted. Often the background color will influence the skin tone and tonality in the clothing area. Many times the color of the background is brought into the color of the flesh, hair and clothing to help harmonize the colors. After the major forms of the face are established, I begin exploring the smaller planes of the face, taking care to observe the variation of edges and color changes within a form. (fig. 2)

Figure 3

The image is slowly built up with thicker layers of paint, less medium and more paint is used. Shadows are glazed down with more medium, while highlights are built up with thicker paint. The various layers which are cross hatched across the form begins to create a luminosity similar to that achieved in watercolor . Subtle changes in value and color are observed and recorded while allowing other areas of the painting to be less defined and more expressive. The work is allowed to dry completely  and a final varnish is applied. (fig. 3)”

Written by Mark Battista

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