I've spent the last
few years in quest of more brilliant reflective color and luminosity in
my paintings. About two years ago, I paired the most satisfactory combination
of materials to date. Working Ampersand Art Supply's, Aquabord with Daniel Smith watercolors, I have achieved the deepest, richest color
I have ever painted.
Painting on the Aquabord surface in watercolor is a joy since the surface is responsive
and cooperative. On the Aquabord surface, the watercolorist can
easily accomplish many of the more difficult watercolor effects created
on paper. This museum quality panel has the absorbency of the standard
cold press paper, without its limitations. Moreover, the surface allows
the artist to control washes and color, and when finished, present the
painting without glass!
There is a smooth
surface similar to a hot press paper, but I prefer the textured surface of Aquabord. It works
best for watercolors. One of the assets of Aquabord is the bright
reflective quality of the white clay and the color that can be achieved
on it. Previously, the watercolorist accepted a loss of brilliance in
some colors as the pigment was absorbed into the depths of the paper.
On Aquabord, the artist can create paintings of deep, radiant
colors. This new surface allows the painter to create the softest washes,
typical of those possible on cold press papers, as well as vibrant colors
and textured patterns that are possible on hot press paper or bristle
board. This fine art panel is also pH neutral and acid free.
After drawing the
design on the Aquabord, begin by painting lush pools of water
on the surface. If the value of the color is to be dark, use wet color
rather than clear water. It is not necessary to wash the entire surface
of the board with water, but rather choose to work in smaller areas. When
wet, the natural surface darkens to a light taupe. This value change easily
allows the painter to know which areas are wet and which are dry as the
work progresses. The bright white color of the clay returns when the board
Apply the water in
thick splashy puddles, adding heavily pigmented color into the water as
needed. With Aquabord, you need to work with your brush loaded
up with pigment. Try not to go back into the wet area but allow color
& water to drop down into the clay surface. Mix the color darker since
the additional surface water will lighten the pigment value. A good, natural
bristle, soft brush is useful for these applications. To achieve the best
effect, keep the brush tip within the water layer rather than dragging
it on the board's surface. This application results in an even, flat,
layer of color as the pigment settles on the board. The Aquabord
surface has a subtle tooth that is evident in the finished work. The texture,
however is finer than that of a rough or cold press paper, creating fewer
shadows on the surface and brighter color.
My palette consists
of many colors. However, because I like working with the character of
each pigment as it stays suspended in water, I will choose to use a pigment
that will create the effect I want rather than manipulate the pigment,
possibly destroying characteristics or color. A good example is created
when Quinacridone Coral and Quinacridone Rose are richly mixed together
and dropped onto the wet or damp surface. The two colors will move and
separate, enhancing each other as the warmer red, Coral floats
next to the cool red, Quinacridone Rose. Both pigments are transparent,
intense colors of the same value and hue. Yet when mixed together, they
create a subtle and sensuous transition that can only be achieved in this
following exercise on a small piece of Aquabord. Draw a couple
of leaves onto the board using a hard lead pencil. Wet the board so it
is damp as explained earlier. Apply cool green colors to your drawing
while the board is damp. Let the water and color absorb in the surface
and reach a slow crawl. Then wash Cerulean Blue across the area. After
drying for a short time drop Hansa Yellow we into wet, onto the areas
that are to be lightened. See how the warm yellow pushes the blue back
and brightens the leaf. Now lift wet color with a soft, mostly dry brush
in order to regain the whites. As colors stack and the painting develops, return to areas and lift pigment.
This allows altering of glazes, changing of values, and the creation of
the desired textures and patterns. The surface of the Aquabord
permits the careful lifting of layers of pigment value and hues to those
colors below, bringing out sparkling underpainting for emphasis and contrast.
Several tools can be used on Aquabord for lifting. A traditional
round or flat nylon watercolor brush can be used. The nylon brush offers
more resistance against the surface than a mixed bristle brush or a natural
bristle brush. When more lift is required, a hog bristle acrylic may be
used. Allowing the board to dry between each removal of color will offer
a clear, more controlled lifting. You can also use tools such as sgraffito
knives to cut into the surface and create sharp highlights such as on
the edge of a petal.
When the painting is complete and totally dry, seal the finished artwork with several layers of Krylon® UV Archival varnish or other final spray. Even though the pigments
used may carry the highest permanency ratings, all artwork should be protected
against the damaging effect of light and the pollutants in the atmosphere.
First, spray the painting with two to three layers of varnish in order
to seal the pigment and prevent it from moving. This is enough to protect
the painting. However, for a more even finish, brush two to four layers
of Golden Acrylic UV Filtering varnish on top of the sprayed varnish.
This varnish come in a matte, satin or gloss finish and can be used according
to individual preference.
The complete artwork
is framed much like a canvas might be without glass! I use silk liners
on my paintings. I find the silk is more compatible with my style with
a texture suited to water color. The liner provides the visual space around
the painting much like that of a matted watercolor. Have fun experimenting.
For more information call (800) 822-1939.