PDA

View Full Version : How many coats of gesso?


DaveTooner
04-03-2002, 01:04 PM
I've been researching the preparation of masonite panels here at the forums, and everyone suggests about 5 coats of gesso. My question is what would happen if you only put, say, two or three coats down?

paintfool
04-03-2002, 01:22 PM
I'm sure it would be fine Dave. Two or three coats is enough to keep the oil from penetrating the gesso but the more you put on the smoother and more uniformed your surface is going to be.
Cheryl

Leopoldo1
04-03-2002, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by DaveTooner
I've been researching the preparation of masonite panels here at the forums, and everyone suggests about 5 coats of gesso. My question is what would happen if you only put, say, two or three coats down?

Traditional gesso goes on thinly because of its nature(rabbit skin glue and whiting). Yes less coats would work but why? Usually about 5 and or more works best. You can either sand with fine sand paper or circumvent the needless labor and use a dampened wet cloth(silk cloth works good) rolled up into a tight ball and rubbed over the surface to ones desired smoothness. A smooth marble finish can easily be attained but wouldn't have the tooth that some painters desire.....L

paintfool
04-03-2002, 08:43 PM
Thanks for that tip Leo. I have sanded between coats but have never used a wet cloth! (i'm all for saving labor) I am finding that i really like a smoother surface for portraiture. I'd always liked more tooth for most other things though, especially when i'll be doing a lot of knife work. But i find that for the softer look that i want with portraits i'd like it as smooth as i can get it.

Todd March
04-04-2002, 01:57 AM
Having prepared masonite panels with traditional gesso (rabbitskin glue/gypsum/whiting) for egg tempera for a while, I can say that it really depends on the surface texture you want... Although if you're looking for a more textured surface, I would look to canvas (or Ampersands prepared texturized panels). Gesso panels are best for finer detailed work, as the the gesso needs to be sanded well for a uniformly flat surface, and by the time you have sanded it nice and uniformly flat, it's little more work to take it to a smooth glass like surface... (I start with 150 grit sandpaper, then move to 220 and finish with 400)..

If you want to sand it to a smooth glass-like finish, then you will need at least 6-8 coats, but I even prefer as many as 10... I often sanded down to the masonite while first preparing my panels with only 4-5 coats of gesso and so am now paranoid! Also the corners with anything less than 8-10 coats can disapear very fast...

If you're into fine detailed work, there is nothing like the sensous surface of finally sanded smooth gesso...!


Best--

Todd

Luis Guerreiro
04-07-2002, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by paintfool
Thanks for that tip Leo. I have sanded between coats but have never used a wet cloth! (i'm all for saving labor) I am finding that i really like a smoother surface for portraiture. I'd always liked more tooth for most other things though, especially when i'll be doing a lot of knife work. But i find that for the softer look that i want with portraits i'd like it as smooth as i can get it.

Hi Cheryl,
Gesso coats can go upto 12, if you're using a traditional gesso. The Italians even used to apply a rougher gesso ("gesso grosso") first and then a fine one called "gesso sottile" or "gesso marcio", I think it was...
Just recently I have used acrylic gessoes from LASCAUX because this manufacturer actually used the same principle of the old masters, applied it to modern technology and came up with 2 products: GESSO (which relates directly to the "gesso grosso") and PRIMER (which is the acrylic version of the "gesso sottile").
I have recently, just for testing purposes used a piece of MDF, applied 3 coats of LASCAUX GESSO, sanded a little between each of them and then applied 3 coats of LASCAUX PRIMER, the last one was lightly sanded, just a little, because this PRIMER is VERY VERY "SOTTILE".
Guess what... The result was astounding! The "feel" we all know when painting over traditional gesso can be largely replicated and the finish is similar.
I just thought of leaving here this quick note. Lascaux website is on: http://www.lascaux.ch/english/index.html
Regards
Luis :)

Luis Guerreiro
04-07-2002, 02:16 PM
Hi,
Here are the LASCAUX Acrylic Gessoes I mentioned earlier...

Einion
04-07-2002, 07:55 PM
I don't want to resurrect the debate about traditional v. modern priming but I was about to post a question to Todd and Leo the other night asking about whether they thought too smooth a surface was a bad idea for oils (not an issue in tempera) when I had a problem with Netscape and didn't get back here. Just as well! I was forgetting they were talking about real gesso and not acrylic primers which are so very different.

Dave, were you asking about acrylic "gesso" or the real stuff?

A quick word about Lascaux, it's worth mentioning that they supply quite a number of products used by conservators worldwide (and have done for many years) so theirs should be considered in this light and are likely to be much better than some run-of-the-mill stuff.

Einion

impressionist2
04-08-2002, 07:22 AM
Luis, Einion and all, Is oil-primed the same as lead primed? What are the advantages, disadvantages and differences between the "Lascaux gesso primed canvas, oil primed canvas or lead primed canvas"?

I am having buckling problems with a linen canvas that was heavily primed ( bought it at an art auction). The corners of the canvas are lifting and it will ultimately have to be cut off the heavy supports and glued onto masonite. What glue should I use and where do I get it?

Renee

Luis Guerreiro
04-08-2002, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by impressionist2
Luis, Einion and all, Is oil-primed the same as lead primed? What are the advantages, disadvantages and differences between the "Lascaux gesso primed canvas, oil primed canvas or lead primed canvas"?
Renee

Hi Renee,

As for your first question, there are some distinctions to be made:

1. GESSO PRIMING

Manufacturers have adopted the term "GESSO" to indicate their acrylic priming products. One of the reasons is the typical finish of acrylic primers and their characteristics, giving a "similar" finish to the finish typical of traditional gesso.
Traditional gesso is as old as Egypt mummies. Their coffins seemed to have been primed with what we know as traditional gesso or a similar material.
Traditional gesso is made by mixing rabitt skin glue with whiting. Details and instructions can be found in www.oils-studio.co.uk under the pages dedicated to supports, sizes, etc (Oil Painting). Traditional gesso is good for MDF panels, hard supports in general, but not so good for canvases, becausae it is too brittle.
LASCAUX Gesso therefore is an acrylic gesso, one of the best by the way.
As for oil primer and lead primer, there is also some confusion. Often associated as the same thing, they are different. Because usually oil primers contain lead white pigment suspended in the oil, the two terms intermix somewhat.
In my experience though, because I only use Winsor & Newton oil primers, there is a substantial difference. My "Oil Painting Primer" is a lead-free oil primer, and the W&N Lead Oil Primer is a traditional lead white oil primer.
I tend to stick with acrylic these days, tests have shown its resilience and durability, it is very easy to apply. I use acrylic primers for panels, canvases I get them made to order under my specifications as I don't have enough studio space to keep stretchers, etc, etc... Perhaps Einion or the other know more about oil primers and your other questions.
Regards
Luis:)

Einion
04-09-2002, 06:34 PM
Renee many traditionalists will recommend bunny glue as the best for this but a much easier (and IMO sounder) way to glue canvas to board is with PVAc glue, like Elmer's. Spread an even coat on the back of the canvas (a large scrap of cardboard used as a spreader is good for this, a small paint roller also works well) then lay the linen on the panel working from one edge to the other, which helps to prevent trapped air bubbles. Laying a large folded quilt or blanket on the surface during the drying period can be a good idea.

Einion

Todd March
04-10-2002, 01:58 AM
Luis Guerreiro said:
Guess what... The result was astounding! The "feel" we all know when painting over traditional gesso can be largely replicated and the finish is similar.

Thank you for you immense help in choosing the right products, Luis. Both your posts here on WC, as well as your WWW site have been extremely helpful to me in the last few weeks as I start to work in oils.

Having a very strong affinity for smooth grounds (as well as experience with), but wanting to work on traditional canvas for a change, I was perplexed as what to do for a ground...

I ended up applying 6 coats of Golden Acrylic Gesso to fine grained linen canvas, and then lightly sanding to a semi smooth surface (canvas grain still can be slightly seen--similar to a hot pressed watercolor paper). The thickish layer of acrylic gesso has produced a nice more rigid stretched canvas support.

I noticed your raves over the Lascaux Gesso and Primer on your site, as well as here on this thread, and am very curious about trying these products. I noticed your experience was with them on board, and I'm wondering if you think they would none the less work well for trying to achieve a smoother stretched canvas finish as well?

My friends that work in oils say that I am only fighting myself, and if I want smooth then work on panels, or, alternatively, work with (on) the grain of canvas and see what develops... I just can't seem to get past that much texture...!

Thanks again,


Todd

Luis Guerreiro
04-10-2002, 03:31 PM
Todd,

LASCAUX will work equally well for panels and canvases.
Keep in mind that LASCAUX GESSO is rougher than LASCAUX PRIMER, which is very smooth.
Apply them taking into account the finish you are after. I have done a few panels for which I used:
1. LASCAUX GESSO: 1 coat, sanded, another coat lightly sanded down
2. LASCAUX PRIMER: 1 coat/sanded, 2nd coat/sanded and finally a 3rd coat only sanded lightly with the finest sandpaper available
3. Pass all over with a clean damp cloth to remove dust and give it a light smooth finish

I buy canvases already stretched, professional standard, which are either oil primed or acrylic primed. On acrylic primed canvases, I sand the original top layer of primer a little to give it tooth and then apply 2 coats of either Lascaux Gesso (if I want a surface more absorbent and with more tooth) or Lascaux Primer if I am after a smooth surface.

Regards

Luis;)