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All Things Ampersand

Image Transfer on Claybord with Dana Brown

Image Transfer on Claybord with Dana Brown

My artwork often involves combining several techniques and materials. Ampersand Claybord is great for this kind of work because of its versatility. The strong, rigid panel can take the pressure of an image transfer process without bending or tearing. Its smooth surface allows for a clean transfer and collage materials make a perfectly flush connection. The fact that Claybord is an archival surface is an added bonus.

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Featured Artist: Lori Wolf Grillias

Andy’s Story

I have tried your other boards, but hands down, I find Claybord to be the most sensual surface I have ever painted on!!  The smell, the silky surface and the way, no matter how I lay those watercolors down, there are always unexpected surprises that arise.  I feed off of being in the moment, responding to the mediums and the physicality of the materials.  Other boards just don’t provide the variety that Claybord offers me.”  ~Lori Wolf Grillias

Class Management

California artist, Lori Wolf Grillias, is both a full time teacher and a full time artist, working her own art and magic primarily when she has teaching breaks.  Lori works full time in 4 elementary schools plus at the Children’s Creative Project and at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.   When she isn’t teaching, Lori works on Claybord, in mixed media.


Lori’s inspiration is the world around her, the physical surroundings, the people, history, dreams and thoughts.  Lori’s work is a reflective journal of her world that she carves out of what otherwise might be seen as an abstract piece.  She explains, “When I start a piece, and I usually work on 4-5 at a time, I use watercolors, wet on wet.  After several layers, I use acrylic and scrape it away, rather than using a brush.  For me, this technique gives me a much more irregular surface.  When the painting feels like it has been formed by natural forces, rather than made by the artist’s hand, I know I have reached the next step.  I use Caran ‘dache water-soluble wax pastels to draw into the piece, bringing figures, machines and structures into the forefront.  Once the narrative between all the figures ‘make sense’,  I go back to acrylic and define even further.  The materials are a HUGE part of this art adventure.”

Eagle Rising

Lori met Catherine Eaton at the young age of 12.  It was then that she knew she was an artist herself, meeting such a talented artist and wonderful person.  Lori shares, “She took the time to help me understand acrylic paint, how to use the tools the right way and dream big!”  Lori’s formal studies in college only heightened her passion, where she had encouraging professors and learned to find her own voice.  It is no wonder that Lori loves what she does as both an artist and instructor, having good teachers in her path.  

Lori will be showing at the Architectural Foundation in Santa Barbara in 2015, and 
this summer, Lori will be teaching a class on the versatility of Claybord at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art; you can find more of those details on their website.

To see more of Lori’s work and resume, refer to her website: loriwolfgrillias.com/home.

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.

White Own

Working with Oils on Gessobord by Jennifer Philips

Starting Point, mixed media on Gessobord

Seattle artist, Jennifer Phillips, demonstrates her layering technique on Gessobord, using oil paints and oil bars.  

I am always looking for ways to create subtle contrast between hard and soft edges in my work. While using a brush to create some of the softer applications of paint, I often use other tools like palette knives, needle tools, and oil bars to create my heavier textures. These materials work best on a firm support, therefore choosing the right substrate to paint on is very important. Unlike canvas, which can be flexible, Gessobord™ from Ampersand provides me with a strong rigid support that withstands a heavier hand and meets the demands of oil bars, palette knives, and texturing mediums. The surface also allows me to work in thinner washes and with soft blended brush strokes. The 2” Deep Cradle Gessobord, with its attractive wood sides, is gallery ready to hang and does not require framing, giving it a modern look when hanging on the wall. 

Raw Umber oil bar to develop trees

Using a rag to wipe out shapes at the base of trees.

To begin this painting, I prepared a 16×20 Deep Cradle Gessobord by first taping off the natural wood edges with painters tape to keep the area clean. Using a palette knife, I applied a combination of Golden’s Molding Paste and Crackle Paste to the lower half of the board to give texture to the grassy field area. After it dried, I sealed it with Golden Soft Gel Medium and then gave the whole surface a layer of Daniel Smith Venetian Red Gesso. Portions of the red color peak through the final layers of my painting and unify the color palette. I then sketched in the composition using a dark brown Conte pencil. 

I developed the initial stages of the painting using a mixture of oil bar colors and a low toxicity mineral spirit called Daniel Smith Sol. I spread a wash of the spirits over the surface and then used a raw umber and burnt sienna oil bar to develop the tree forms (A). While the surface was still wet, I used a rag to wipe out shapes along the base of the trees to show soft light coming through (B). 

Zinc white with Hansa yellow and ochre for sky
Reapplied oil bar with palette knife

Next, I used a variety of oil colors to blend in the sky and to create the soft edges of the tree tops (C). For the sky, I used a mixture of zinc white with hansa and yellow ochre for the warmer areas and raw umber for the cooler areas. I used mixtures of olive green and raw umber to create the trees in the distance, and then began to lay in the rich yellows of the distant field. At this point, I began defining the areas of light at the base of the trees using a mixture of hansa and yellow ochre, zinc white and a little raw umber. This was when I started refining the shapes and creating hard edge contrast. I did this by scraping paint away with a needle tool, drawing back into the surface to create a suggestion of branches. Then I went back and added delicate colored lines with a #4 script brush. 

Working dark to light, I focused on laying down initial layers of raw umber oil bar in the foreground and then, using a heavy hand, scumbling across the surface in a horizontal linear pattern with raw sienna oil bar. Subsequent colors of oil bar were used to build up the color and surface of the field. They were heavily applied to the surface, scraped away, and then reapplied using a palette knife (D). 

To finish, I used a #12 fan bristle brush to blend the trees and parts of the foreground. Once the painting was dry to the touch, I used a damar retouch spray to unify the surface of the painting. This varnish will allow the painting to continue drying until a final varnish is applied. I removed the tape that was protecting the sides of the Gessobord panel and my painting is now ready to hang! 

To learn more about artist Jennifer Phillips, visit www.facebook.com/JenniferPhillipsArt

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: Valerie Allen

Valerie’s photo entry in our contest

We held our first photo contest on Facebook this spring asking for artists to submit shots of their studio with their Ampersand panels in clear view.  Out of the entries, we selected three winners to share with you in our blog.  Over the coming months, you’ll get to know those artists and their Ampersand studios a bit better.

Athena’s Timeline:  The Prelude, Mixed Media on Claybord
Detail of Athena’s Timeline Illuminated

Michigan artist, Valerie Allen, has always known she was an artist.  She was the go-to person in high school for anything art, always working on projects and commitments.  “I remember begging my dad to drive me to an art contest 2 hours away — definitely a long shot — he missed his favorite grouse hunting day.  Lucky for me– my persistence paid off with me winning the grand prize.  He always remembered that day with a smile.  The country girl showing the city folks a thing or two about design!”  Her persistence as an artist has continued to pay off, as she is an award winning exhibitor and instructor.  As an educator for many universities throughout her career and ongoing with the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art and the Golden working Artist program, Valerie has  a lot to share with her students about good materials.  

Valerie has always been attracted to a range of mediums.  She found that her love of art history and process enlightened her on the range of mediums and the artists that used them.  Naturally her experimentation followed the artists that attracted her:  Van Gogh, Picasso, Rauschenberg, moving through oils, ceramics, lithography and encaustic.  With her move into the Golden Working Artist’s Program, Valerie has concentrated on encaustic and acrylic, both which do quite well on Ampersand panels.

Valerie came to find Ampersand Claybord™ through a colleague and artist, Armin Mersmann.  He hired her for instruction at the Alden B. Down Museum of Science and Art.  A lovely bonus came from their working relationship as Valerie and Armin have been married now for ten years.  

“I find Ampersand to be such a versatile support for my work.  I use it for my acrylics that are layered with thick gels and pastels.  I also use it to mount my encaustic monotypes.  I really appreciate the archival qualities of the boards.  When I sell artwork on Ampersand, I know with confidence it will stand the test of time in any setting,” Valerie explains.  

To see more of Valerie’s work or her schedule for the Golden Working Artist Program, check out her website:  valerieallen.artroof.com

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.