Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reviewing Ampersand Pastelbord

When I paint Fine Doodles, I use Ampersand Pastelbord. It's made specifically for pastels but takes just about everything - I use acrylics for these. They're made from a nice, archival hardboard in all the sizes you could ever want. I use 1/8" boards so they can either be framed or stand alone.

I used to use canvas panels, but they didn't feel professional enough for me. I moved on to Ampersand Gessobord, but I found that this greatly increased my work time per painting. The gesso coating lacked the gripping texture of the canvas, and it took a good three or four layers of paint to get the solid, unmottled color that some of the more cartoonish Fine Doodles call for.

Then I tried Ampersand Pastelbord. The texture is grainier and rougher than the Gessobord, almost like a super fine sandpaper. It grips the paint much better. Almost too well - really drinks it up. So while I spend less time layering on my colors, I use just as much paint (if not more) to cover the same area.

The texture is fantastic for making gradations. Blends thick colors together like a dream. But it can't handle a smooth, thin wash. The water gets soaked up in all different directions, pulling the pigment with it. This makes for some visually interesting effects. Below I've posted two detail shots from the same Fine Doodle painting:

It's subtle, but between the two top bubbles above you can see a darker mottling that I added with a spray bottle after the paint had partially dried. Below, there's a nice example of the pigment pulling in different directions as it dries right there in the watery highlight below the green thing (it's a mermaid tail). In all of the bubbles, you can see some of the interesting interactions of thinned colors on the fine, gritty texture. 

So I wouldn't attempt a lot of glazes or tight watercolor effects on the board. But thick gradiants, tiny details in acrylic or oil, and saturated colors - that it can do.

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