what is gesso

What Is Gesso?

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If you are an artist who only works on pre-prepared canvases, you may never need to know about gesso.

However, when you step away from using that type of paint surface, you find a whole world of paintable areas will become available, if you use gesso.  What would you paint on if practically any surface were available?

Wide, creative avenues open up when you add gesso to your supply box.

What’s so special about gesso?

Gesso formulations may vary, but it is essentially a combination of filler and pigment that is less expensive than acrylic paint and is used to provide “tooth” (an adherent surface).  It may also be used to add texture to a surface, and additionally has the effect of sealing the porous surface to which it’s applied, so paint won’t bleed through.

Gesso can be purchased at art supply stores in several presentations, depending on thickness and color.

It can be purchased in bottles, tubs and squeeze bottles and is readily available in white, clear and black.

Ready to try using it?

Plan on practicing a bit in order to get the results you want.  Here’s your opportunity to have the surface preparation the way you want it, instead of adapting to what you can find.

There are several ways in which gesso may be applied to a surface.

A paintbrush could be used to apply thinner coats of gesso, while a palette knife could be used to apply the thicker type of gesso.

The edge of a thin plastic card (think debit card) could also be used to move the gesso around to achieve the desired thickness and texture.

Gesso can also be mixed with paint to create a tinted ground for your work.

When you’re applying gesso to a flat surface, you may want to apply successive coats in different directions.

Also, to achieve the smoothest finish, you can sand the dry surface with fine grit sandpaper and, perhaps, apply another coat of gesso until you like the surface texture.

Gesso can be used in a variety of ways to rehabilitate material that would otherwise be unsuitable for an art project.

Sealing cardboard and keeping paints from bleeding through to the backside of even very thin papers to which it’s applied are just a pair of those you might explore.

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