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Watercolor paintings of Chapel Hill by North Carolina Fine Artist

Watercolor paintings of Chapel Hill

After doing many paintings of Raleigh, I am finally getting around to painting Chapel Hill!

I have been exploring new paints, and papers. For the University UMC painting, I used new (to me) QoR paints. I need to paint more before I decide on using this range long term (I normally use Holbein and Winsor & Newton).

I painted the “Carolina Inn Evening” on Ampersand Aquabord. This is a unique surface! The paint handling was quite different from watercolor papers which I normally use. I have several reasons to explore this surface:

(1) Plein Air: I normally paint on un-stretched watercolor paper en plein air. This works fine for smaller sizes. However, at sizes bigger than quarter sheet, the paper does cockle. Most of the times, this is not an issue. However, it does make painting difficult under humid conditions. This should not be a problem for Aquabord.

(2) Framing: I frame all of my work. This does get expensive and time consuming. Framing becomes bigger challenge for plein air contests and wet-paint sales. Aquabord can be framed like Oil paintings- without the mat and glass.

(3) Contests: traditional watercolor paintings, by nature, are subtle. This subtlety is lost many times on folks judging plein air and other art contests. I often see badly painted oil paintings being awarded top prizes- just for being painted with oils! Not enough attention is paid to framed (or un-frmaed) works on paper. I do not wish to change my painting style just for the sake of art contests! I work in traditional manner, and do want my paintings to have a fair chance in contests. So, I am open to try surface other than the paper.

Of course, this was my first painting on Aquabord. So, I have a long way to go before I make my final decision about its long-term use. Here are my brief observations:

(1) Warping: the board did warp very slightly initially. Leaving it flat for couple of days seems to have fixed it. I guess I can also use 1.5″ or 2″ deep panels. Of douse, this also depends on how I want to frame my work.

(2) Framing: The big one! I am following instructions on the Amersand website. I have applied Krylon UV Archival Satin varnish. I am yet to apply Golden Polymer UVLS Satin varnish. Not sure how this process will work for plein air contests and wet-paint sales. I may contact Ampersand to get their tips.

(3) Storage: I store my watercolors flat (with or without mat). Paintings on Aqabord will require more storage space and better handling.

(4) Paint handling: I like to draw (sometimes in detail) before I start painting. The drawing was not easy on this surface. I used softer lead (4B)- most of the drawing came off during initial wash. I did not fix the drawing since I was unsure about the paint handling after applying the spray. Paint handling was very different from my favorite papers. I was not sure what the washes were doing! I had to apply the washes very carefully as underlying layers seem to come off. Lifting the paint was easy, when I needed to. The board seemed to stay wetter longer. However, I like how the finished painting looks. Initial varnish seems to have saturated the colors even more.

So, I will be certainly painting more on the Aquabord. I will be trying Gouache, and Drybrush techniques over next few days. And I also plan to use it en plein air.

I am also exploring  another Ampersand product- Claybord. I am working on my first Egg Tempera painting on Claybord. More on that later….

– Tesh Parekh

Fine Artist


Chapel Hill University UMC. 9x12. Watercolor painting on paper.
Chapel Hill University UMC. 9×12. Watercolor painting on paper. Painted with QoR paints.
Carolina Inn Evening. 11x14. Watercolor painting on Aquabord.
Carolina Inn Evening. 11×14. Watercolor painting on Aquabord.


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