Friday, January 21, 2011

Aquabord Surface testing

To my complete enjoyment, this month I have had the opportunity to "test" the new aquabord surface produced by Ampersand Art. (Thank you Andrea and Elaine!) For in painting not only comes from the art of creating, but also from the science and products used and explored.

Painting is much more than simply using some random pigments and applying them to a surface. The 'scientist' in me spends a great deal of energy...and choosing pigments...those properties and qualities that will not only lend themselves to a harmonious palette, but also enhance the longevity of the painting. I apply similar considerations when choosing a painting surface. 'Knowing' your paints, brushes, surfaces all enhance the integrity of the process...and I believe, the integrity of what is produced.

Blind Date
Watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord

For the past 2-3 years, almost exclusively, I have preferred the textured clay surface produced by Ampersand. Below are a few of the elements and findings in "testing" the new surface along with my favorite characteristics of the surface.

Surface Properties:

Durable and reliable support…with beautiful texture effects as a result of air bubbles trapped in the surface that are released with water.

Stands up well to graphite and erasing without noticeable surface damage. Graphite erases more easily and more completely on newer surface. Pencil mark remains visible and clear when wet

The ‘white’ of the surface I would describe as a neutral or subdued white (almost warm) Ivory color when compared to a standard white… that lends itself well to complement pigments/ pleasing color. Similar in color to most ‘rough’ or cold pressed heavy weight watercolor papers, particularly Arches. Coarse and assertive, somewhat ‘gritty’ texture.

Paint went on smooth with even drying of flat and graded washes, resulting in less backruns and blossoming.

Even when saturated, backruns and blossoming were minimal.

Pigments (even staining pigments) lifted cleanly. I would need to test using heavier glazes to compare lift ability.

Pigments maintained their color and intensity…and compared to paper the intensity, value, and chroma are enhanced on this surface.

More "testing" to come...and the excitement of a new and improved surface...

Monday, January 3, 2011


Beginning the new year, my satisfaction has waned with the ultra-real paintings...those in which all the information is given. Where else in life is all the information detailed perfectly in order for you to exactly see the situation, draw the right conclusions and make the right decisions, and predict the future responses?...almost never...Similarly to the ambiguity in life situations and the excitement of not always knowing the outcome, curiosity and intrigue is created through an abstract arrangement of elements...visual elements in a painting that allow for exploration and personal interpretation.

For me, however, there is a point where patience is lost to the vague ambiguity, as is the case with completely abstracted paintings. Visually, I prefer some representation, allowing for degrees of abstraction in shape, color and edges. I need a few answers, some plan...some information...but not everything.

Untitled (for now), Pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord, 16x20

And so, I find myself drawn to these pastel landscapes, responding to the watercolor foundation; those accidents that occur naturally when water and pigment react to the dry, pumiced surface of clay. Subjects still 'representative' but not quite fully developed, interpreted...standing just outside the rows of vines...seeing the vines, but not every leaf...appreciating the balance between the order and disorder of things...given just enough information to draw my own conclusions.