Psychedelic flower – Take 2

Psychedelic flower – Take 2

Another take on a pink rose, or Psychedelic flower, as my friend Sam Harrison aptly named it. This time the painting is on Ampersand Aquabord Museum Series Panel, a new painting surface I’ve been trying. Now that the painting is finished I can say that Aquabord with its pebbly clay surface will very likely become my support of choice.

Aquabord takes watercolor like nothing else I tried. It doesn’t bend or buckle, does not need stretching or post-painting straightening. The clay allows for gazillion washes, clearly shows where it is wet so you can’t skip a spot when painting with water, dries to brilliant white or color, and allows lifting and changes of mind with no difficulty. It behaves very much like a Cold Press paper less qualities that I don’t like. It is archival, acid-free and non-yellowing. I understand that it is possible to spray/fix a painting on Aquabord with Krylon finishing spray and frame it without glass. Even better – Ampersand makes Aquabord in a form of a cradle, so work can be displayed without a frame altogether provided sides are finished professionally.

To be objective there were two things I liked less than others. One was that when I wet the clay surface before applying a wash it darkens like wet sand, which makes it somewhat of a guess game what the resulting color will be when it dries. But I soon learned to guess with a great degree of accuracy. And two – it takes more pigment. More pigment than paper that is, but not as much for me to go broke buying more. With this said, in my mind there are not enough negatives to overcome the positives of this beautiful surface. And – No, I do not work for Ampersand!

8″x10″ (20×25 cm) watercolor on Aquabord


30 thoughts on “Psychedelic flower – Take 2

  1. Hi Alex. Your similarity between the two flowers are astounding. I know I could not get the same degree of accuracy drawing the same thing twice. 🙂 smiling at my imperfections 🙂 Your flower is beautiful and I will look forward to seeing more of your work on this surface. Beautiful color!

    • Thank you, Leslie! This surface does make the color shine. I used the same student grade pan set, the same palette as in the first version, yet this one came out better. You made an interesting observation about similarity. Similarity was not the goal here, just the opposite. My daughter, my most unyielding critic (and the one I pay the most attention to) commented that the first flower looked empty due to too few petals. So I added more petals to make it fuller. But it was the same reference after all – must be the portraitist in me subconsciously striving for likeness embarrassed.

  2. You are an amazing artist. You are no beginner!!!!!

    Love this latest flower with it’s oh so vibrant colors. And thanks for the info on the Aquaboard. There’s a Dick Blick in my neighborhood. I need to mosey on over there one day and check it out.

    • Carol, you are too kind! This little painting isn’t bad, but there are several things in it that I would like to correct or change if I knew how. One day I will know… You are a lucky duck to have Blick in your neighborhood!!! I have to drive for half an hour and then pray for parking, which doesn’t always work :(. On the other hand, having an art supply store in a close proximity can be dangerous evilgrin !

  3. I like them both but I like this one better. I want to know if you’re independently wealthy. How the heck can you afford to do art all day? You must have a good Sugar Daddy. 🙂

  4. lol mama, yeah you’ve got a pretty amazing sugardaddy! i like this one better as well. the colors have more depth and flow into one another more natually if that makes any sense. i think you should maybe try this painting one more time, it seems that every time you draw/paint it you understand it better and it appears more and more alive.

    • It makes perfect sense, sweetie! You should try art critique for living. You are doing so well with it! Just pick up a few buzz words – juxtaposition, mood, narrative – and you are in business! I may do another flower, flowers are great subjects to try new techniques. Just not at the moment – I have two paintings in the works right now.

  5. Dear Alex, thank you very much for giving me the Sunshine Blog award. I enjoyed very much your nice message.
    I feel very honored and I really appreciate the Award from you and so I placed him on my own blog.
    You are doing beautiful artwork by yourself. I find the Aquabord always a challenge. You did a great job with your painting on the Aquabord, the pink rose really glows. Just love it.
    Happy Painting.

    • Doris, I am so happy you liked the “award”! There aren’t that many people that I know who deserve the Sunshine award more literally than you – the way you work light in your paintings is remarkable. I went to your blog to see who you would nominate and have discovered the Artcolony! What a delightful group of artists! I am now busy reading the Artcolony blog and individual websites – so much to learn! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Alex, this flower is lovely. I bought some Ampersand Aquabord, but I haven’t had the guts to try it yet. Maybe now I will:) I’m glad I found your blog!

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Candy! Good to meet you too! I encourage you to start on Aquabord, it helps creating different, more transparent, light filled images. I hope you’ll like it!

  7. Delightful flower, I much prefer it to the first. The petals seem much more velvety and the colors are so smooth. The background is more solid as well, IMO. It kind of reminds me of how a rose would look if you held it out on a porch at night.

    Ampersand seems to make great products – their Pastelbord is great, good to see Aquabord in action.

    • Hey, Sam! Glad you liked it! Stop talking to me about pastels, would you LOL… I am finding myself casting a curious eye towards them every time I go to an art store. Have a sense pastels may be a good media for me… But I think I should not pick a new media right now, between learning graphite and watercolor I am plenty busy. Spreading my time too thin may be not that helpful, not even talking about expenses.

      With all that said, what it the difference between soft pastels, oil pastels and pastel pencils? Which type can be smoothed better?

      • Yep, nothing like these pastels, mm-hmm, nothing quite like them at all… 😀
        I have a problem with pastels, they are addictive.

        Anyway, one the subject of types:
        Oil pastels are less messy but kind of hard to use, IMO. I’m not very good with them. You can find a BIG set of Pentels (which are not really bad at all to practice with) for about $10. The softer Senneliers are like painting with lipstick. Oil pastels can be blended with paint thinner like turpentine or mineral spirits. (Eyeliner is fun to draw with, by-the-way.)

        Pastel pencils vary in hardness from brand-to-brand. My personal favorites are Stabilo Carbothellos which are soft and blendable. They tend to not be as lightfast as soft pastels.

        Soft pastels can be pretty much pure pigment (Senneliers, for instance) and last a loooooong time if under glass. The really soft ones blend if you so much as look at them funny. They are a finicky medium but offer stronger colors than anything else.

        I meant to post some color charts the other day but accidentally lost part of the post. It’ll be there soon.

        • What an abundance of good info, Sam! Thank you so much for writing it up for me. I am reading about a new type of pastels in the Blick catalog – Unison pastels. They are supposed to be super soft and very blendable. Did you have a chance to try them?

          • They are great pastels, similar in softness to Senneliers, which are very soft. A lot of the colors have a warning label, so they’re the kind you’d want to wear a mask with.
            The only complaint I have is they’re expensive for the size.
            I believe Richeson pastels are made by the same company and are basically a larger, cheaper version.

            If you’re looking for the softest… Schminckes are pretty much the softest stick pastels available, from what I’ve read []. Haven’t tried them though. Great American Artworks are a personal favorite and are on the softer end of the lineup.

            Pan Pastels.
            They look like makeup and paint like nothing else, kind of like dry watercolor applied with a sponge.

            Since I’ve already pretty much wrote a short novel write here 😆 , I might also add that Conte Crayons are FANTASTIC blenders even though they don’t initially seem that soft.

            • Wow, thank you again for more great info! I didn’t not realize I’d need a mask for Unisons, I don’t think I would go for it. Besides, I don’t have a separate studio, just a converted dining room. Bringing all these heavy metals into my living space does not sound like a good idea. As I said, I am not quite ready to dive into pastels world, but when I am, I have some good recommendations – thank you!

              You indeed have written a small comparative research paper on pastels here. I am wondering if you want to combine your two comments from here and add them as a write-up on your blog along with your pastel color charts. This way others may also benefit from your experience. Just a thought…

  8. I love this Alex! I also have a Aquabord sitting here. I wonder why I haven’t picked it up to paint so far. Thanks for posting your experience with this. The wash for this rose seems to be more in control. I need to look out for the Aquabord with cradles. I never saw one in art catalogs or stores so far.

    • This Aquabord clay is a great surface for multiple overlapping washes, IMO. Smooth transition are easier on it as compared to papers I tried. I obviously like it quite a lot. With that said, I heard several artists saying they didn’t like it, although they couldn’t explain to me why they didn’t. Really, liking or not liking a surface is very subjective, no long explanations are needed. Best thing to do is to try it. Aquabord comes in small trial sizes. Do you have it available in France?

  9. I love the vibrant colors you achieved here. Thank you so much for posting your experience with the Aquaboard. I’ve never tried it and now I’m very excited to give it a whirl. I usually paint on 300lb hot press paper, but you’ve intrigued me with the possibility of blending washes with more ease and flow.

    • Thank you for stopping by and making yourself known, Karen! I went to your blog as well and realized that I have been there before and loved your work. I must have wandered to your corner from someone’s blogroll, because I remembered several paintings, “Grief” in particular, but I couldn’t find them again. Now I know where you are and will be able to keep up with your work :).

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