Aquaboard is an interesting painting surface that I have seen in Blaine’s Art Supply in Anchorage and online catalogs and finally decided to try. Unlike paper it is a hard board similar to press board used in cabinets. It’s fairly thick, about 1/8 inch, and comes in a variety of sizes. It can also be purchased in a “canvas” type board, with 1-inch-wide sides so that it can be hung on the wall as a finished piece rather than having to frame it like paper. The surface is not paper, but clay and minerals that they say have a texture similar to cold pressed watercolor paper. The picture on the left is the back, and the one on the right kind-of shows the thickness of the board.
I found several things interesting about the product. I like the thickness of the board. I didn’t have to tape it down to anything obviously, so there was no prep involved in using it. It’s also not paper, so there was no warping which I dislike. It had an interesting texture to it, I didn’t think it was similar to cold press paper, I thought it was a bit rougher. I think I would almost compare it to sandpaper rather than watercolor paper. Not an aggressive sandpaper, but definitely not as smooth as even a cold press paper feels. Just different.
Those are the things I found interesting and liked. However, the most important part of painting on any surface, is whether you like the surface for painting, not how well it hangs on the wall or keeps from buckling. The clay surface absorbed water weirdly. Some areas seemed to dry quickly while others didn’t. It didn’t hold the watercolor color very well in my opinion. The sky on this painting (I’ll include that picture below) I had to paint several times to get it dark enough. At one point I tried to wipe the paint off and it wouldn’t, so I thought it was dry. It was in some spots but not in others and when I painted again it lifted paint in some spots but not in others making a very mottled looking sky. I also wanted a clean white edge all the way around, so I taped around the edges, as well as a straight line for the horizon and painted the sky. When I removed the tape from the horizon line the paint had bled down into my ocean area. I was able to scrub some of it out, but not all. I think it was because of the sandpaper feel of the board, so the tape just couldn’t get a good seal anywhere.
The finished product turned out ok, and if I were to digitize this one, I would simply remove the boarder that I tried to create. But overall, I would not use this product again, which is unfortunate, because they came in a three pack, so I have two more! If any of you have tried the Aquaboard and have any tips or tricks to using it more effectively, I would love to hear them.