I had read about Ampersand artists boards and seen many examples of artwork done on the different surfaces. I was impressed with how good they seemed to be. Recently when I saw that my local art shop Art Shed Brisbane, had started stocking Ampersand artists boards, I was eager to experiment.
I was given a couple of sample sizes and bought some of the Aquabord and Claybord. I was particularly keen to try watercolour on the Claybord since I am fascinated by Ali Cavanaugh's amazing portraits.
Well, it's easier said than done. The clay surface is as smooth as silk. It adds a wonderful translucency to the layer of paint. It's forgiving because offending brushstrokes can be wiped off leaving the surface clean. However, if you're hasty, everything you've painted will come off too. Adding a too-wet brush to an already painted area will lift off all that's below! I know that I have a very long way to go to achieve a result that I will satisfy me.
Here are a couple of portraits on Claybord:
Portrait of Tamara Lara from Sktchy - watercolour on Ampersand Claybord 175mm x 125mm
I've used a couple of timber panels lately. The rigid surface is quite different to the bounce and spring of stretched canvas. The lack of woven texture is also very different. A firm support is ideal for working in impasto since there's less chance of the the thick paint layer cracking. This can easily happen on flexible canvas.
Next on my experimentation list is using oils on Claybord as I think that the results on the smooth surface will be interesting.
The Aquabord has more tooth and texture, more suitable for watercolour, for which of course it has been designed. I need work with it more so that I investigate the properties of the surface properly. And really, at the end of the day, am I making life difficult for myself ? I should just stick to watercolour paper for watercolour!
And here's the framed portrait - from Bizarre Frames in Newmarket, Brisbane. The lovely people there are always happy to help with my odd requests. As usual, I forgot to photograph the painting in the frame minus the glass so there are a coupe of strange highlights. I managed not to include a reflection of myself, though!