What is GESSO?

What is GESSO?

What is GESSO?


Gesso (pronounced 'jesso') in other words undercoat is a mixture of plaster, chalk, pigment and binder. It was already used in Medieval times by Italians and the very name gesso derives from Italian which means chalk. Surfaces not covered with gesso can absorb paint, so this preparation protects against paint penetration. The main charm of gesso is that it can be applied to almost any surface: canvas, metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, fabric and wood. Gesso can also be used as decoration, for example to create drops or give the surface a texture. Idea: You can mix gesso with gel paste to create texture on the decorated surface.

Did you know?
Traditional oil gesso contained animal glue binder–usually rabbit-skin glue. From the technical point of view, the modern "acrylic gesso" is not a real gesso at all. It is a combination of calcium carbonate and acrylic polymeric latex medium, pigment and other chemicals that provide flexibility and long service life.

Initionally Gesso was only white, but now you can also buy black, transparent or even colourful. Black gesso makes the surface take the form of a chalk board, while the transparent one works perfectly with patterned papers, photos or graphics, for decorating of which we want to use additional media.



Hint: Gesso can be washed with soap and water before it dries, then the surface will be waterproof.

The primer can be mixed with acrylic paints, thanks to which we can give the foundation a specific colour. Remember, however, that gesso will lighten the colour slightly, so to get a more expressive colour you can add mascaras - but you must take into account that the liquid ink will change the consistency of the foundation (dilute it).

Gesso is found in bottles, tubes, jars and buckets. From bottles and tubes, you can squeeze the gesso directly on the canvas, and then spread it with a brush. If the gesso is in a jar, you can use a brush or spatula to apply them.  

The gesso foundation is also available in the form of a spray - ideal for quick use, it dries almost immediately, which is why it is recommended to metal (it will not rust during further work with the media) or objects with lots of hollows and details (it will easily get in each slot).  

How to apply gesso and how to work with it?

There is no good or bad way to apply a gesso foundation. It all depends on what the surface you want to get, or what you need for a given project. First of all shake the gesso container so that it is mixed well. Regardless of the type, there is a possibility that the undercoat could be delaminated. For application, you can use: brush with bristles, silicone, sponge, spatulas, plastic cards (e.g. an old ATM card), and even your own finger.  

Hint: To get a really smooth coating, use sandpaper to gently wipe between each layer. Before attempting to make sure that the surface is completely dry!

To sum up gesso as a foundation is very useful for artists as well as hobbyists. It prevents the absorption of paint into the decorated surface. Strengthens and stiffens paper, so you can easily work with different types of media and different techniques. Gesso makes it easier to achieve the planned effect   And what's most important and the best is in gesso? That you can always paint your mistake and start again!

EASTER EGG by Agnieszka Cebula



egg 3

Styrofoam egg size 22cm, structure made of lace, gauze and string. Coloured with ecoline and gesso. Complete with artificial twigs and WOC flowers.