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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Knowing About Gesso

I have had lots of people asking me about Gesso. When to use it. Why do I use it. How many coats are necessary, etc. Then Dala sent me a bottle of their own Gesso and naturally I set out to test it. I decided it would also be the ideal time to answer all of those privately asked question in a blog so everyone could be privy to the answers. Today's blog gives you the lowdown on Gesso.


When an artist buys a canvas, it will probably state that it has been triple primed or triple gesso primed. This means that the canvas has been treated with three coats of gesso, making it unnecassry for the artist to do this themselves. Gesso is simply a primer, specifically aimed at artists as it has been developed to assist artist quality paints (both acrylic and oil) to adhere to the surface it is painted on. Not treating a surface may result in paint cracking and chipping off the surface. Having said this, all paints have adhesive qualities and priming a surface only improves those already adhesive qualities already prevalent in the paint. Is Gesso then only to be used by artists? No! I often use Gesso in my craft projects as well, and for the same reason that I use it in my art projects. It improves the adhesive properties of the project. Gesso will adhere to a range of surfaces and brushes and spills can be cleaned with plain water. Once dry, the Gesso is fixed and permanent. The fact that Gesso is acrylic based (water based) makes it so much easier to work with than other surface treatments, which are largely oil based and requires cleaning with a chemical such as turpentine or thinners.


Dala has a very thick Gesso that resembles a paste. At first I was surprised by this as I am used to a slightly more runny gesso. As soon as a I used it, I became instantly hooked. It covered the surface beautifully. I only painted one coat of gesso, but already you can see how well it covers the surface.


I then decided to dissolve the Gesso ever so slightly with water. I dipped my brush in the water first and then in the Gesso.


The Gesso glided on more smoothly, but the results were slightly diluted. Doing this may result in me having to paint an extra coat of gesso.


I then read the label and saw that Dala suggested I mix the Gesso with Acrylic Glaze Medium when preparing a surface for oil colours. Apparently this would keep the gesso from absorbing the oils. Interesting!


I mixed the Gesso and the medium on the surface.


I then mixed it with a palette knife.


I LOVED how smoothly the gesso glided onto the surface once I mixed it with the medium. I also prefer this to dissolving it with water, as water has no adhesive properties of its own, whereas the medium does.


I covered the remainder of the board with the mixture of gesso and Glaze Medium.


Here is a close up shot of the undiluted gesso straight from the bottle.


This close-up shot shows you where I used the wet brush dipped in water to paint the gesso on.


This close-up shot shows the area covered with the mixture of gesso and Glaze Medium.


The best thing about all of this is that your brushes simply clean with water!


Directly after treating the surface with the Gesso, I continued on a blog about using Blackboard Paint. Here you can see how beautifully this single layer of gesso sets off the colours of the applied paints.


Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy her books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
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