It is this kind of activity that inspires me to paint, to find new subjects and plan new compositions. This spring, I have been experimenting with Claybord, made by Ampersand. Claybord is a Masonite-type panel, which has been coated with a smooth white clay surface. The clay is absorptive, and may be painted with egg tempera, acrylic, oils or watercolors.
I have used Claybord several times to paint images of wildlife, but this spring, I began painting more abstractly with transparent watercolors on the surface. At first, I found it difficult, because I was used to paper. The more I experimented, the more interested in the surface I became.
For subjects, I at first chose dark evening images of the river behind my studio. I began painting by pouring liquid watercolors on the surface of the clay. This worked for two reasons: it prepped the surface to accept more paint, and to quickly lay down large areas of color. Then I tried applying color in different ways. I tried scraping, layering with a broad brush, pouring multiple layers and adding multiple layers of scumbled and hatched lines. All of these techniques worked. In at least one painting, I even used masking fluid to reserve whites.
As I completed more and more of the paintings, I began varying subjects. Most are still abstract, but several of the paintings on boards are more realistic, at least in part.
When the paintings are finished, I cover the completed painting with several layers of varnish to seal the painting. It seems unnatural to seal a watercolor, as far as I was concerned, but now I like the idea, at least on a non-flexible surface like Claybord.