Pastels are, in general, a fragile medium. They require a sanded durable surface because the pigments need texture to grab onto when painting in layers and when blending repeatedly.
For the pastelist using hard pastels, soft pastels, oil pastels, and pastel pencils, use our Pastelbord™which was designed with all these qualities in mind. In addition, try using water soluble pastels becausePastelbordcan be used wet or dry without the fear of curling or buckling. Pastels must always be framed behind glass because when they are sprayed with a fixative, the colors can be made to appear dark and dull.
Pastelbord™ is a clay and gesso coated hardboard panel with a granular marble dust finish comparable to a sanded pastel paper except more durable and more versatile. It can be used with wet or dry traditional pastel techniques or with acrylics, and more! The coating is pH neutral and non-yellowing, making it a truly permanent museum quality surface. Available in Gray, Green, Sand and White and now on sale at local retailers. 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.™
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.
Sealing and varnishing finished artwork on Ampersand panels is extremely important especially when framing without glass. Be sure to select a varnish that is appropriate to the type of paint you are using. Provided below are a few basic suggestions for sealing and varnishing several popular mediums using products we have successfully tried and tested on our panels.
Watercolors & Gouache
Seal 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 UVLSor Golden® Polymer UVLS varnish. About 4 coats brushed-on, provides a very durable archival finish and is also removable for conservation purposes.
Ampersand panels do not lessen the drying time required for oil paints before varnishing. Allow the oil painting to dry for 3-6 months before applying the varnish. A good choice is Gamblin’s Gamvarthat is easily applied using a soft natural hair brush. Unlike varnishes made from natural resins like Damar and mastic, Gamvar does not yellow with age or become more difficult to remove. It contains a UV stabilizer and offers some measure of protection to less lightfast pigments, depending on how heavily it is applied. For tips on application, Gamblin offers this video demonstration.
For Acrylic paintings, a light coat of an acrylic varnish like Golden® MSA UVLSor Golden® Polymer UVLS varnish is advised. Problems such as smoke damage, handling blemishes and dust or dirt accumulation on the surface of the painting can be removed along with either varnish type. Golden® varnishes offer protection from UltraViolet (UV) rays generated from the sun and consolidate the artwork with an even sheen. Gloss varnishes can intensify colors while Matte or Satin Varnishes soften the color and minimize glare. Alternatively, Gamblin’s Gamvar[see varnishing oils] can effectively be used to varnish acrylic paintings. This is a Golden video on the Proper Spray Application of MSA varnish
Sealing pastels with spray fixative tends to dull the color of the pigments, so we recommend all pastels be framed under glass. The glass protects the fragile nature of the pastels while also keeping their colors true to life. For tips on matting and framing pastels, consult this article.
Sealing Scratchbord™ (formerly Claybord Black)
Seal finished Scratchbord™ art with a spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating or use the Krylon® UV Archival Spray Varnish. The fixative [or spray varnish] will dissolve fingerprints or smudges and will protect the surface from dirt and moisture. For best results, first remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush. Then, spray with 2 – 3 coats [as directed on can] in a warm, well ventilated environment during low humidity.
“My pastel paintings are personal recordings of places that have left a strong impression on me, that is why I want my work to reflect that special light or mood of the scene that attracted me to it in the first place. I am not looking for a perfect rendition of the landscape or objects, instead, I strive to convey a feeling and a sense of place.” ~Adriana Meiss
Adriana Meiss found art early in life, drawing the architecture of houses and fashionable dresses she liked. It was in high school where she discovered her talent for drawing when she started winning competitions. However, college and beyond brought out her “practical” side and Adriana found science to be more suitable, but she kept coming back to art. While she was waiting on approval for graduate school, she had one of the best years of her life creating a portfolio of art, in all sorts of media — watercolor, oils and pastels. After family and other jobs, it was much later, in 2001, when Adriana found art creeping in again, and it was here to stay.
“Rural Twilight”, 11″ x 14
“Aflame”, 5″ x 7
Adriana attended a local guild exhibit and found herself drawn to the pastel works, all by different artists. It was the brilliance of the color that drew her in and she began to research pastels before setting into working with the medium. Even though she has tried other mediums since, she has found that pastels not only work with her quick painting style, but also easily create the atmosphere for which she is known.
Pastelbord™ makes sense for Adriana’s style for numerous reasons, and it is her preference for paint-out sessions. Because she doesn’t need to use additional support or apply her own ground with the Pastelbord, it works well for travel, plein air and is easy to frame. One of Adriana’s initial draws to Pastelbord was how the board could be washed off if a painting wasn’t acceptable. The board doesn’t warp either while rinsing or with a wet painting style, which makes it durable long term. “Being able to reuse a support is not only practical,” she says, “but also convenient because of the ready made texture and support structure.” And, with the museum quality Archival-seal™ barrier technology from Ampersand, Pastelbord will be around for a long time to come.
To see more of Adriana’s work and learn her process, visit her blog or her website.
Now with Pastelbord™being on sale at up to 40% off for Spring, it is a good time to purchase! Check out our website for the closest retailer to you: Spring Sale Retailers
Pastelbord™: A uniquely coated museum quality panel suitable for pastels, coated with a fine marble dust finish comparable to sanded paper except more durable and more versatile.
Since pastels are a fragile medium, they need a gritty surface to grab, especially when building in layers. Pastelbord can be used wet or dry with soft, hard, or oil pastels using traditional pastel techniques or even with acrylics. As with all museum series panels, the surface is pH neutral, non-yellowing and archival.
Try painting on Pastelbord with acrylics. Acrylic paint is known for drying quickly; however, Pastelbord’s open surface allows for the paint to dry slower, allows for lifting of the paint during working time.
Pastelbord’s ground options create a natural middle ground color for painting, so that the tone can easily be highlighted or darkened for dramatic work.
Pastelbord’s clay surface absorbs the pigmented washes well, consider mixing water with the acrylics to get a full rich color wash.
Transparent pigments work well to show the layers of color and still allow for absorption into the ground.
Drybrush works well on the rough surface of Pastelbord to show deep layers of color.
Since Pastelbord is now 40% off at retailers around the country, it is a good time to make a purchase. To find a retailer near you: Pastelbord on Sale.