I love painting on alternative watercolour surfaces to paper. Paper is wonderful, of course, but a prepared panel somehow has more of a feeling of luxury and permanence. Ampersand offer some lovely ready-made board surfaces, my favourites are Aquabord and Encausticbord, but sometimes the cost and availability of these can be restrictive. I also find that I can’t always get these panels in the shapes and sizes I want – I particularly love square panels, which are mystifyingly not available at all as Aquabord in the UK.
Whether the watercolour painting I’ve done is on an Ampersand panel (Aquabord, Encausticbord, etc) or a homemade wooden panel (likely prepared with a watercolour ground), I usually finish the piece in the same way. I get a few questions about how I do this, so here I will go into some detail about finishing.
Some ready made artist panels can be bought already attached to a wooden cradle, giving the overall panel a nice deep edge of an inch or more (link HERE to Ampersand panels). I personally prefer painting with the panel flat on the table, so I tend to attach a wooden cradle when the piece is finished. I do not own any appropriate power tools whatsoever, so the process I've had to use is VERY low tech! In the future I very much hope to invest in a mitre saw, which will make cutting the pieces much quicker, easier and more accurate.
Traditionally, artists have been painting watercolour on paper for a long time. For years I painted on Saunders Waterford cold-pressed 300gsm/140lb 100% cotton paper. Just the right amount of absorbency to create water effects, whilst controlling the paint enough to get some detail. Like anything it has its drawbacks. Watercolour painting has come a long way since those wholesome shows on daytime tv, where the painters set up their easels in fields of cows. Happily the surfaces available to paint on have come along too. I’ve been using Aquabord by Ampersand a lot this past year and thought I’d post a few thoughts on how it compares with paper.
I am Emily Wilson, a watercolour portrait artist, working in the UK. I have a particular interest in exploring alternative painting surfaces to paper.