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All Things Ampersand

Ampersand Faces: Dana Brown

Dana Brown knew he was an artist before he entered elementary school and even began introducing himself that way at the time.  He was drawing all of the time and continued to work realistically through college.  It was his day job in art materials that brought him to a desire for the abstract in his own paintings.  Understanding color relationships and how oil paint worked  coincided with his full-time job as well as leaked into his art. 

Dana is most likely the voice at the other end of the line when you call Ampersand or whose inbox you reach via email.  Like most other Ampersand employees, Dana wears many hats.  He answers customer questions about technical information, works on order requests, and travels to retailer stores to train staff, set up displays or conduct workshops.  And yet, panels are not Dana’s only area of art material expertise.  Before arriving at Ampersand, Dana worked with Gamblin® Artist Colors, Portland-based oil color manufacturer.  Since the art materials industry is fairly small, Dana was already familiar with Ampersand panels before coming to work at the factory in 2006.  So, Dana has a very good understanding of quality and how the end result is affected by his choice of materials.

Investing in good materials “means taking [his] work seriously,” says Dana.  “I invest a lot of time and effort into my artwork and I want to know that it will look the same next year or even 100 years from now.”   With so many different artists out there making use of the range of available materials, it makes sense that there are a lot of options.  However, each artist needs to choose what works best for their style, their process and intentions, not to mention their medium of choice.  “When you have high quality materials, certain struggles disappear,” he explains.

His own artwork has improved greatly with his knowledge of Ampersand’s panels and his awareness of how the surface actually effects the finished image.  Since working with Ampersand’s many artist clients, Dana has had the chance to get to know all levels and styles of work, what those artists need, and how their own work is influenced by the substrates they choose.  He has then had the opportunity to put into practice what he has learned from understanding good materials and watching other artists around him.  It has given him the opportunity to take a closer look at how the substrate influences the work just as much as the paint.

For artists looking to change their practice to panels or try out panels for the first time, Dana shares how the differences are surprising.  There is a lot of control in painting on prepared panels. There is no uneven texture or discoloration to conceal and colors are more accurate.  Painting on a perfectly smooth surface, like Claybord™ or on the slight “tooth” of Gessobord™ that Dana uses, allows the light to hit the pigments evenly. Each brush stroke goes down as intended, without the canvas texture affecting the surface.  However, the panels allow for paper or canvas to be mounted as well, providing an archival rigid substrate without the need for framing.  For artists still interested in painting on a canvas-like texture, there is always the Artist Panel™, which offers a canvas texture along with the stability of an Ampersand panel.


To learn more about collage on Ampersand’s Claybord™, check out this article where Dana demonstrates his collage and image transfer work:  Image Transfer and Collage on Claybord
To see more of Dana’s work, follow his blog on Tumblr at:  danabrownstudio.tumblr.com

3 comments on “Ampersand Faces: Dana Brown”

  1. Mike Etie says:

    good article,thanks.
    What panel do you recommend for oil bar? And do you know of any instructional video for that medium?

  2. Hello Mike, I apologize that I didn't see your comment earlier. Since oil bar is similar to oil paints in composition, I would suggest trying Gessobord first. The Winsor & Newton website does have some information on Oil Bar here: http://www.winsornewton.com/resource-centre/product-articles/artists-oilbar I do not know of a book or video off hand, but I will look into it further for you.

  3. Hello Mike, There are also some videos on Oil bar on the W&N website: http://www.winsornewton.com/resource-centre/videos/product-demos/ Hope this helps

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