So, what exactly is gesso?

3 Oct

If you read my last post (and thank you if you did!) I ended by telling you that my dear friend Nancy was kind enough to share my blog on facebook with her friends. And her kind comments were accompanied with “But what exactly is gesso?” So, as promised, today is Wednesday and I’m going to tell you about Gesso.

Acrylic gesso is surface preparation material. It’s similar to white paint, but it’s thinner (nowadays it also comes in black and if you’re really adventurous, you can tint your gesso with a bit of paint).  It’s flexible and won’t crack on your surface. It primes your canvas (or whatever material you are using) gives it “teeth” or texture and allows the paint to go on without soaking into the surface. I suppose I could get all technical and tell you that traditional gesso is a white paint mixture consisting of binder mixed with chalk or gypsum, but that’s boring and really, I think you get the idea.

So, I begin all my art cards and journal pages with a generous coat of gesso. Once in a while I forget this important step (usually if I’m particularly inspired and can’t wait to start a page and I can tell right away. The paint kind of smears on instead of spreading nicely. But there are many other uses for gesso.

Sometimes I start a card or page that doesn’t quite turn out as I planned. Instead of scrapping it all together, I’ll cover it with gesso and start over. This art card, for example, wasn’t working vertically, so I decided to cover it and change up the orientation. The finished product was much better (I’ll share it in the near future)

You can use gesso to tone down a patterned paper you may use as a layer in a page, like I did here:

Or when that didn’t quite work, I painted over the gesso layer and then toned the paint color down with more gesso. You can still see the patterned paper through the layers so it looks more like it’s part of the page instead of sitting on top of it.

There are many, many more ways to use (can you stand to read that word again?!) gesso. Check out Mel Stampz for some really cool ideas.

I’ll share both of these projects in the near future. They are on their way to Las Vegas as we speak and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Once I know they have been received, I’ll share!

Cheers,
Michelle

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3 Responses to “So, what exactly is gesso?”

  1. Monica October 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    Being a photographer vs a painter, I always wondered at the mystery of gesso…thanks for clearing this up!!! Like your blog, you go girl!

    • studiobukowski October 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks so much Monica. Coming from a fellow blogger, I appreciate the kind words!

  2. havenofinspiration March 27, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on Haven of Inspiration.

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