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All Things Ampersand

Scratchbord Basics

Ampersand Scratchbord has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines.
Backed with Ampersand’s true artist hardboard, Scratchbord will not tear, crack or bend like other paper scratchboards and can be sealed with spray fixative to eliminate fingerprints for perfect glass-free presentation.  Continue Reading >>

Encaustic Resources: Tips on Beginning with Encaustic Paint

The first step to painting with encaustic is melting the paint. At room temperature encaustic paint is a solid. When heated it becomes a workable liquid.  In this liquid state it can be applied to the surface with brushes, but you can also get paint on the surface by pouring, dipping or using heated tools.  

Here are some basic tips for painting with encaustic: 

  • Make sure your temperature is between 180-200°F and you have your surface thermometer on your palette. 
  • Select the colors you will be using and decide if you want to melt paint directly on your palette or in palette cups. 
  • Decide which brushes you would like to use and arrange them on or next to your palette. You will notice that it is necessary to keep your brushes warm so that they remain soft and ready to use; pausing with your brush will cool and harden the paint.  The types of brushes you use will affect the way you apply the paint to the surface; a soft hake brush will leave almost no brushstrokes while a bristle brush will. 
  • If you apply warm paint to a warm panel the paint will flow more readily onto the board, while if you apply warm paint to a cool panel the paint will cool quickly and create texture. 
  • It is helpful to heat your support directly on your palette or with the use of a heat gun. If you skip this step the paint will cool very quickly and you will have short brushstrokes. 
  • You can come back to a painting at any time to rework it with the addition of heat. 

This content is from the R+F Handmade Paints blog and website.  For more resources on encaustic painting,check out our Encaustic Resource Center.

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.

Encaustic Resources: Oil and Wax

Beautiful effects can be achieved when combing oil paints with encaustic.  Oil can give to encaustic greater fluidity, color diffusion, and in some techniques, precision. Encaustic gives to the oil immediate “drying” time, the muted or gloss surface effects of wax, and greater textural variety. But is this combination structurally sound? It can be, but it is important to understand the ways in which a wax paint and an oil paint are and aren’t compatible.

Chemically, oil and wax are “cousins.” If oil is stirred into melted wax, the two will readily combine. In this mixture the balance of oil with wax should be seen as a continuum. At one end of the continuum wax is added to oil to give the paint more body, but the properties and requirements of oil predominate. The paint film will still be flexible, but it will have to go through a drying phase before it sets up and becomes permanent — in fact, the wax itself will somewhat retard the drying of the oil since it has no drying properties of its own. 

R+F Handmade Pigment Sticks

At the other end of the continuum oil is added to wax, and the properties and requirements of wax predominate. The oil, however, lowers the wax’s melting temperature and makes it less hard. Artists who make their own encaustic often do so by adding tube oils to melted wax. This dilutes the strength of the pigment, resulting in a more subdued waxy finish. As long as too much oil is not added the paint film will still be hard, and it will set up and become permanent on cooling.There is a danger, archivally, in making a mixture of oil and wax that is too close to the center of this continuum, in other words, where the amount of oil and the amount of wax are equal. At that point the binding and the adhesive properties of both wax and oil are so compromised that the film they form is very unstable, since it is not able to either dry or harden.

Our Pigment Sticks are a very good example of a wax in oil paint. Because they are in stick form, they may seem to have a lot of wax. Actually they have very little wax — less than 15% of the stick is wax. When molten wax cools, it retains the continuity it had in its liquid state and forms a uniform structure, binding the oil within it. But this wax structure is very weak, and the instant the stick is crushed by drawing it over a surface, the wax structure breaks down and becomes absorbed into the oil. Further manipulation with fingers, knife, or brush turns the consistency into that of a buttery oil paint.

This information was pulled from the resources on the R+F Handmade Paints website.  

For more great resources about encaustic:
More Resources on Encaustics from R+F Handmade Paints 
Encaustic Workshops at R+F Handmade Paints 

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.

Claybord Basics

Claybord™ is made using 1/8″ true artist hardboard and features Ampersand’s amazing kaolin clay ground formula similar in paintability to the clay gesso grounds used during the Renaissance. The surface is sanded to an ultra-smooth, highly absorbent finish so your paint colors remain true and brilliant.

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Pastelbord Basics

Pastelbord™ is one of our absorbent textured surfaces, created for endless layering with soft pastel, oil pastel or colored pencil artists in mind.  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 a combination of wet and dry media.  

An underpainting or wash can be applied to the entire surface with acrylic or watercolor before working pastel onto the surface. Blending with water or solvent, an artist can create layers of color for a deep, rich finish.  Water will not make Pastelbord rip or buckle, so you can use a damp cloth to blot away pastel marks to completely rework the image.   

Artist Ken Muenzenmayer has found Pastelbord to be one of his favorite surfaces for acrylic painting because the texture holds a long open time.  He finds that he can get rich, glowing color on Pastelbord that surpasses any other surface.

For more techniques on using Pastelbord, take a peek at our YouTube Channel.  Artist Kendra Ferreira shares her blending techniques with colored pencil and watercolor pencil on Pastelbord to get rich color underpainting.  

Pastelbord is not available in cradled panels as pastels need to be framed under glass for the most protection.  However, Pastelbord does come in four colors:  grey, green, sand and white and a variety of sizes.  

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.