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All Things Ampersand

Featured Artist: Nilda Rosa Rodriguez

Colored pencil on Pastelbord

“Another artist mentioned the Pastelbord surface to me.  At that point, I was designing many pieces in colored pencils and wanted to try a surface that was not paper.  Upon trying Ampersand Pastelbord, I was delighted to see the high compatibility that medium has with colored pencils, and that all my techniques could be applied with great results and no frustration.”  -Nilda Rodriguez

Colored pencil on Pastelbord


Florida artist, Nilda Rodriguez, is a multi-media, working artist, teaching and traveling regularly for the Society of Decorative Painters and her own studio, Tolebrush.  Nilda’s love of art began at a very young age, drawing family portraits.  Her painting began when a friend took her to tole painting classes.  Working in acrylics became her steady medium for years while she learned how to use oils from videos and her own steady practice.  In 2007, though, Nilda took on colored pencil.  With her natural gravitation to drawing, the medium came easy to her and she had her work with instructions published in The Decorative Painter, the official magazine of the Society of Decorative Painters.  Since then, she has had many other projects published and continues to work in all three mediums regularly.

Nilda demonstrating at the SDP conference

Nilda most recently attended the Society of Decorative Painter’s Annual Convention , from May 13-18 in Illinois, and shared Pastelbord™ in a workshop with attendees.  She found Pastelbord through another artist and uses it for its durability, versatility and its quality.  Nilda explains further, “I think that your final product is as good as your materials.  If you use poor quality brushes or surfaces then you are not able to achieve an excellent final product.  I have tried many types of paper and the results are not as good as what can be achieved with Pastelbord.  It is important to use a surface that will be compatible with colored pencils and that optimizes the techniques used while coloring.  I like the vibrancy that the colored pencils display when applied on a Pastelbord.  Pastelbord is my choice because you can apply different mediums without perforating it.  Furthermore, there is something to be said about a surface that has sturdiness and some weight and mass to it; there is a psychological quality where the artist and admirers perceive the finished piece as having more value and durability.”

Colored pencil on Pastelbord

For students trying Pastelbord with colored pencils for the first time, Nilda offers the following advice:

  • Use light pressure when applying the layers of pencil.  To release some of the pressure on your surface, try holding your pencil further away from the tip.  Holding the pencil very close to the tip gives you more control, but places more pressure on the surface.
  • Use a well sharpened point.  Working in circles can allow one to rotate the pencil to always have that freshly sharpened point.
  • Consider painting the background with acrylics first, and then transferring the drawing to the Pastelbord.  (Pastelbord does come in a range of colors, but acrylics coat the panels nicely and stay wet long enough for blending the colors.  Acrylics also take colored pencil well on top of Pastelbord.)
Nilda’s oil on Gessobord
Nilda finishes her work by burnishing with a colorless blender or Gamsol and then applying a few more layers of pencil.  She uses the Grumbacher Acrylics and Oils final varnish in a spray coat and the varnishes with JW Right Step Gloss Varnish applied with a soft cloth.


Even though Nilda has a full seminar scheulde and studio practice, you can often find her posting new work on her blog and website: Tolebrush.com 

All things Ampersand,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply

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