Did you ever have a piece of paper that you wanted to paint on, but you knew it would not be able to 'take' the paint? Then this BLOG is for you! A lot of people keep an art journal and often run into this problem. Mixed media artists also frequently encounter this problem. The solution is gesso. Gesso is the stuff that you paint on canvas to prepare the surface to accept paint. Few people know that this can also be applied to paper for the same purpose.
Note that gesso does not dry transparent and it will colour your page white. Therefore, if you want to strengthen a craft paper (with a design on it) you need to apply the gesso to the back of the paper. If you are working on white paper, you can paint the side that you want to work on. Simply paint the gesso liberally onto the paper and set it aside to dry. If the paper wrinkled up, you can sandwich it between old towels or wads of fabric and iron it with a dry iron to smooth it out again. Your paper is now ready to accept paint. The paper in my example is normal 80 gsm paper, i.e. printer paper. Note how liberal I am when adding dollops of acrylic paint straight to the paper and mixing it as I go with my brush to create a streaked marble effect. Without the gesso preparation the 80 gsm paper would have torn and crumpled. Instead it lies smoothly without a wrinkle.
Another example I did in yellow.