Fun with Aquabord

If Aquabord abuse were a crime, I’m pretty sure I’d be in the clink-y without a key-key….hehe.     This surface is so much fun!   This is watercolor and acrylics on a 6×6″ piece of Aquabord by Ampersand.

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I thought I would share some ideas for how to have fun with Aquabord, a textured clay surface that absorbs watercolor (and even acrylics!) like paper:

  1. I enjoy dampening the surface well, dropping in any type of watercolor or acrylic paint or ink, and watching what happens.  I usually spray the surface further with a water mister bottle to encourage different types of effects and get the color moving.
  2. Tilt your board this way and that, and try propping one side (or one corner) of the surface with a palette knife, pencil, or other tool if you like the swirls, pools and puddles you are seeing, and would like them to dry that way.
  3. While the surface is wet, try dropping rubbing alcohol from an eye dropper, one drop at a time, and watch how the alcohol relocates the paint.
  4. Aquabord is very easy to correct.   Think watercolor paper on steroids, backed by a hardboard (Masonite type) surface.  Ampersand, the manufacturer, advises that a damp paintbrush or a damp paper towel (I’ve even worked with Q-tips) is the best way to make corrections and lift pigment.    I have run the surface under a cold running faucet many times, but Ampersand does NOT recommend this.   If I were creating a painting to sell, I probably would not do it, as you wouldn’t want to risk the textured clay surface lifting from the hardboard support.   I love this surface for the watercolor beginner, as it is very forgiving!   Way more than any watercolor paper I have tried.
  5. Aquabord is tough.   I worked with this particular painting for many hours, running it under the faucet (as we are not supposed to do) countless times.   It didn’t give me any trouble until I took a palette knife to it several times, as you can see.  🙂

I have so much fun every time I paint on this surface!   Aquabord was designed for watercolor paint specifically.   Your paint will in all likelihood be more vibrant on Aquabord than on watercolor paper, as the pigment sits closer to the surface.    Ampersand recommends that watercolor or gouache on this surface be sealed with several light coats of spray varnish or fixative when your painting is finished.   The representative with whom I spoke suggested Krylon 1311, which is a matte spray.   Ampersand’s website also mentions other Krylon UV resistant varnishes, such as this one, which has a clear finish. (Note: As a Dick Blick affiliate, purchases from these links help to support my site.)

I’d love to hear how you have played with Aquabord.   I bet I haven’t even scratched the surface yet (haha, no pun intended).   I hope we’re all gearing up for World Watercolor Month in July!   Peace and have fun playing!

70 thoughts on “Fun with Aquabord

    1. Thanks, Snehal! That is a great question. I think most people put a watercolor painting behind glass to protect it. I could be wrong though. Maybe someone else will let us know. If you were going to protect a watercolor, you’d definitely want a spray product that is acrylic-based, I would think. If you tried brushing something on, you’d risk moving the painting, same with any type of water-based product. Maybe this one would be fine, but test it on a scrap piece first? That’s probably good advice for any type of fixative or sealer. Glad you like the painting! 😀

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      1. Thanks so much Laura for a quick reply! Yeah you are right! most of the times watercolor painting are behing the glass but I thought what if we can use this spary to give a matte finished look. Just a thought not sure 🙂 🙂

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  1. The constellations! More beautiful work.
    I would love to find a substitute for the Krylon sprays. They are super toxic for my allergies. Hairspray is cheaper but no better in the odor department. I guess if there was an alternative, everyone would know about it…(K)

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          1. I have contact allergies as well. Like I have to use “free” laundry detergent. It’s interesting that they are saying now that all these allergies come from too little exposure to bacteria, because I was outside playing in the dirt all the time as a kid…Who knows?

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            1. I have to use special detergent too, due to eczema. I tend to think we have way too many poisons and toxins in our environments and that’s why we all have issues like this, or at least, know someone who does. GMOs IMO are a big part of it too. I could go on and on. I will stop. lol. Have a great weekend, Kerfe.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! Glad you like it! I think you’ll like this surface. Paint lifts very easily. It takes a bit of getting used to, but at this point I would probably always want a blank one around because it’s just fun to paint on. I’ve seen amazingly detailed work on this surface too, but I like it for abstract and loose watercolors.

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  2. Hey Laura – nice abstract! You are an explorer with a wonderful curiosity. You always impress me with your sense of freedom about your art. – Tom

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  3. Looks like you had fun! YAY Laura!! 🌟🌟🌟 For some weird reason, the texture is reminding me of marshmallows today. 😉 You know, roasting them over a hot fire with blue flames… And thanks for the fixative info. I was surprised they recommended Matte spray since this one tends to dull your colors – or maybe I have it all wrong. But I thought you said the matte had marble dust in it? ✨🎨

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    1. Hi Jill – I was surprised by that too, although I guess some people prefer a matte finish. I think I got mixed up about the marble dust. Still trying to learn all of these acrylic products. I think marble dust is added to the molding paste. Not sure what is added to the matte medium to make it matte. There are so many acrylic products out there! It gets a little confusing.

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  4. this is a gorgeous finished art work Laura. beautifully balanced. lovely harmony with a strong dominant monochromatic feel. tonal range is spot on, well done! leaving those couple of side slightly paler…. allows the viewer room to travel and breathe; doesn’t ‘close us in!’ Excellentay!
    so, you know I have Pinterest boards…? I have board, Art in Blue and Creative watercolor techniques. I’d like to share This, on those boards. What is your policy for pinning? thanks, Debi

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    1. Wow, thanks so much for your enthusiastic praise, my friend! Much appreciated! I’ve heard some artists don’t want their work pinned, but I have no idea why that would be. My sister pins my stuff occasionally, and I’ve always taken it as a compliment. So pin away! I’m flattered that you would want to do it! (((((((3d))))))) Those two sides that are lighter – interference blue! Love those interference colors; they’re like magic! I recently learned that Daniel Smith makes interference watercolor as well – but I bet you already knew that. Really glad you like this painting and thanks as always for your wonderful analysis. It helps me to create with deliberate attention. Have a great weekend, Debi!

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  5. Oh Laura Loo! So so gorgeous!!!! Did you break out the indigo??? 🙂 such a great piece. I love how the white is toned so that it draws me into a certain spot. It is subdued to the left and then POW! Bright white focal point. Did you plan that way? I am learning soooo much from you! THANK YOU!

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    1. Yes, I did use the Indigo! Thank you! 😀 I had something else completely planned for this painting. It called for a very dark background, and I thought indigo would get me there fastest (I wasn’t sure I wanted black)……but once I started playing with the color, sprayed it with water, because I can never seem to resist that, etc……it started telling me it wanted to be something else and i just went with it. It seems every time I have a “plan” for these paintings, it just goes somewhere else. Trying to find that balance – may be a never-ending search lol. Glad you like it, Jodi! Hey, we learn from each other, I love what you’re doing with the acrylics, your wild explosions of color. I am so happy you seem to be enjoying them! I wouldn’t have wanted to steer you wrong (although with Blick, can always return, no Qs asked, but still…). I did a painting last night of ac and wc together that I’ll be posting sometime today. I am continually amazed by what they do, these colors. So addicted to color. I feel like I’m on a never-ending playground; greatest feeling ever! Anyway, thank YOU for your always enthusiastic responses! (((((((Jodi))))))))

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      1. that happens to me too, and I always think of Debi Riley saying art is 80% thinking and 20% doing, and I am surely not there at this point! I want to be. But then it is so cool when it does take a mind of its own and create something amazing! Puzzling – eh?! Can’t wait to see what you post!

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        1. It is puzzling lol! They usually ride off Iike wild horses and I’ve learned that trying to fight it usually leads to something unpostable. lol. I’ll be curious what you think of the one I’ll post today. I sometimes find with these abstracts that you can “refine” forever! And with acrylic and being able to cover up stuff, it becomes a never ending story. I took another look this morning, still wanna make changes but gotta put the stop sign up at some point, can always make changes later. It was another “experiment” for me that turned out pretty cool, so I wanna share in case someone else would like to do the same. 💛💜💛

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  6. Wowwowwow! I love that. Can something be mystical and playful at the same time? Transcendent and fun? You’ve captured all that. Suddenly I’m a teenager swimming at midnight across a cold lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, thinking about God and love and the future and the past. How did you do that? Oy. I think I just had a mini vacation. Thank you.

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    1. Kirk, you made my morning with this comment! I just love your imagination and your ability to put your thoughts and feelings into words so beautifully. I am there with you dreaming now too because you put me right there. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that this painting took you to this place. Thank you for taking me there too. Much appreciated. You and the family have a wonderful weekend!

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        1. That is a great question. I’m not sure what to say. Very flattered by the question! This surface became a bit damaged by my slicing it repeatedly with a palette knife. Would need to be sealed to maintain its integrity. It’s only 6×6, wouldn’t be much, Kirk. I’m tempted to send it out to you, I’m so happy for the experience it called up to you.

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  7. Oh I need some of this aquabord, it’s quite expensive ( I am trying to recreate this surface with a diy aquabord – if it works I will let you know, I think the surface could be OK, but not washable? That is the key to my trial. I am waiting to make claybord also after finding a recipie online, just waiting for the kaolin to arrive.

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      1. Lol there isn’t for the aquabord, in process of seeing how different things work, although I have yet to buy the real thing. I will post later if possible ( I have a huge back log of paintings to post, just really short of time at the moment, fates/ fun days at work)

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    1. Carrie, I know Blick ships internationally but no idea what they would charge. You can request a price quote from them online. Boy, sorry these aren’t easy for you to get. I’d be glad to send you some, but not sure how much it’d cost me to post them to you.

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  8. Aquabord sounds like a lot of fun and one that might be good with oil pastels – I like learning about your process. Your painting is brilliant in design, those diagonal lines bring a lot of energy to the piece beautiful color choices Laura. Wonderful painting ~ .

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    1. Thanks so much, Mary, so glad you like my painting! I’m starting to get more of a feeling for these abstracts. I guess it’s like anything else, the more you do, the better you become.

      Ampersand actually makes a board for pastels, and people apparently can paint on it as well. I’ve not tried that one yet, but would like to. It’s called Pastelbord and here is a link to it, if you’re interested: http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/8071762/type/dlg/fragment/description/http://www.dickblick.com/products/ampersand-pastelbord/

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      1. Hi Laura, your work is showing a lot of your learning – very exciting to watch. I use pastelboard a lot – it’s gessoed, tough stands up to a lot of abuse. I love working with it.

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    1. Jade you can use Aquabord with watercolor or acrylics, inks etc. Same is true for Gessobord. But Aquabord was designed for watercolor specifically. Claybord is super smooth and slick, but otherwise similar to Gessobord, which has a bit of tooth. Ampersand will likely give you a sample if you like! They’ve given them to my sister and to I. 800.822.1939

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