Ampersand Gessobord Review

written by Sophie | Materials & Technique, Oil Painting

Ampersand Gessobord is a premium rigid oil painting support. It is a wonderful support that I regularly use. In this article I'd like to describe its qualities and explore its uses.

Gessoboard comes in a cradled and uncradled version. The cradled version has some wooden strips at the back, turning the panel into a much thicker panel. The cradling will help avoid any warping (especially in large pieces) and make the piece suitable for hanging without a frame. You paint the sides if you like. The cradles come in varying widths; 22mm and 38mm.

As I like to frame my paintings, I have only ever used the uncradled panels. And I really like them. The un-cradled panels are 3mm thick.

Ampersand Gessobords are made of high density aspen hardwood. They have a layer of Ampersand special acrylic coating on top. It has a very slight texture to it, but overall the boards should be considered very smooth.

Ampersand claims the boards are durable and and made from renewable wood. It is acid-free and non-yellowing. The wood panels are protected with a seal. You can read more about this on their website.

So if we don't have to worry about durability, then for me, they are a credible option for painting on.

In my own experience the panels are wonderful.

The Good Bits

  • They are lightweight so very suitable for plein-air work, painting classes, or work on location such as portrait sessions.
  • They have a very smooth surface but it is not totally flat and smooth. The very slight texture provides a little bit of liveliness to your painting, but it is plenty smooth enough for the tiniest of detail.
  • A rigid surface provides the best protection for your paint layer to last.
  • They are easy to frame as the panels are thin and sturdy. The cradled panels can easily be hung without a frame.
  • The gesso coating is not very absorbent. A lot of ready-made canvas with acrylic universal primers are very absorbent of oil paint. On those supports you can easily stain the canvas with your paint. The paint will not move around a lot, as the oil is absorbed into the primer quickly. Oil primed canvas is the opposite of this: there is almost no absorbency and your paint will slide around on the surface of the canvas. This will give you richer colours and more time to move your paint around. Ampersand gessoboards are somewhere in between. They are a little absorbent but not very much. As I like oil-primed canvas, I prefer slightly less absorbency in my supports, but compared to most universally primed canvas I like Gessobord a lot.
  • The gessoboard is a warm off-white.
  • It can be cut to size with a fine saw.
  • Comes in lots of sizes although not all stores stock all sizes.

The Bad Bit

  • It is expensive.


I would recommend using Ampersand Gessobord if you can afford it. I use it for commissions and 'serious' paintings, but often prefer cheaper alternatives as well. For me they are too expensive to use for all my work, but that is of course a very personal choice.

All in all it is a beautiful, archival, professional and easy to use paint surface for anyone who likes a rigid and smooth support.

Sophie Ploeg Ampersand Gessobord

Click to enlarge

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase through these carefully chosen links. It will cost you nothing  extra and you would support this blog for which I would be most grateful.  Please find more info on my affiliate policy here.

Published: September 11, 2019

More to read....

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}