Saturday, May 21, 2016

Product Review: Multimedia Artboard, New Colors for Oil Painters – And Home to Campobello Island

For those of you following our travels, you'll be happy to know that we reached our summer studio on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, on Monday.  Trina and I got home on a raw, rainy, windy day to discover that the power company had not turned on our electricity (or "hydro," as they call it here) on schedule.  An on-call worker arrived several hours later – remember, this is an island, and the ferry doesn't start running again until mid- or late-June, so he had to come from mainland Canada via two border crossings and the States – to turn things on.  All systems came up nicely.  The delay wasn't a bad thing, though, as it gave us time to get a lot of unpacking done without the distraction of electricity.  It would have been nice, though, to have had a cup of hot tea during the unpacking.  I don't think it got above 45 degrees all day.

While crossing the US from Arizona to Campobello, I had in my possession a special treat:  a pack of new boards from Multimedia Artboard.  Not long ago, I wrote about some of MA's other new products, which you can read about here.  This is one I didn't receive until just before I left Arizona, so I was hoping to find time to play with it while on the road.  The perfect moment came while teaching at the Art Barn in Valparaiso, Indiana, where I shared them with students.

Each panel is silkscreened by hand on the smooth side.  MA worked with Hylla Evans of Evans Encaustics to develop some modern ground colors with her Holy Grail gesso in a base specially formulated for oils and acrylics.  I spoke with Hylla about the colors, and she said she had plein air painters in mind when choosing them.  One of the issues with outdoor painting is that landscapes are typically filled with muted colors, peppered only occasionally with a spot of rich color.  She thought, and rightly so, that a brilliantly-toned surface would enliven these dull landscapes. How many of us don't tone a canvas a bright red to spice up a green world or a rich yellow to warm up a cool day?

The students and I enjoyed testing out these samples.  As I've seen with my other tests of Multimedia Artboard, the surface is very absorbent, so if this is not to your liking, you will want to apply a coat of clear gesso first.  I found that adding a little Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel helped the paint flow just fine without treating the surface first.  And the cheerful colors really added a boost to the painting!

Top to bottom:  Periwinkle, Sunshine, California Poppy, Peony

The colors are:  Peony, Sunshine, Periwinkle, Azure and California Poppy.  I can best describe these  as magenta, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, manganese blue and permanent orange.  (I don't know what pigments were actually used, but this is what they look like to me.)  In this photo, I don't show the Azure; it escaped before I had a chance to photograph it.

Here are the 8x10 plein air sketches I made.  They were done on an overcast, dull morning.  One was painted on Peony; the other, on California Poppy.

Unter der Linden - 8x10 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
On Peony Multimedia Artboard

Springtime in Indiana - 8x10 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
On California Poppy Multimedia Artboard
Overall, I enjoyed working with these colors, and I'm sure I'll use them again.

#multimediaartboard #encaustics #evansencaustics #gamblincolors

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