View Full Version : Gesso???

morning glory
08-05-2002, 10:53 AM
I would like to ask about gesso, which I have read that artists apply to their canvas before painting. I was not taught this method, we simply unwrapped the canvas and started painting. Recently I purchased a pre-gessoed board and began applying my background paint, and immediately found that the oil was pulled into the gesso. Ofcourse I am assuming this is what happened because the paint did not glide across the surface, but became sortof dry like. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I do not understand gesso. The art lessons I took growing up were not very advanced, so I am finding I have a lot to learn. However, I have decided to start by unraveling the mysteries of gesso. If anyone can enlighten me I would be most appreciative.

Thank you,

Morning Glory

Wayne Gaudon
08-05-2002, 12:57 PM
Luis (http://www.oils-studio.co.uk/materials_for_grounds.htm)

G.L. Hoff
08-05-2002, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by morning glory
I would like to ask about gesso...

By all means, check out Luis Guerreiro's site. A quick rundown:

Traditional gesso (aka "gesso sottile") is made with hide glue and plaster of Paris, sometimes with calcium carbonate (powdered limestone or marble) mixed in. Many companies now make a gesso sottille that doesn't have the plaster of Paris component. Modern gesso is made the same way but instead of hide glue as the liquid component they substitute an acrylic resin.

The canvases you used in the past were probably already prepared with acrylic gesso, which can be flexible and is often used on stretched canvas. Depending on the company, those products are quite slick and not very absorbent. Traditional stretched canvas is prepared by using hide glue to size the canvas, then a lead primer coat is added.

On the other hand, gessoed board is prepped with a compound that's more rigid (doesn't have to be flexible since it's on a rigid support), and is more absorbent. This could be either traditional or acrylic gesso. Originally, oil and tempera painting was done on boards and traditional gesso was used to prepare the surface, sanding between coats. Some masters used as many as 8-10 coats.

Hope that helps.


morning glory
08-07-2002, 08:02 AM
Thank you very much for your help.

A lot of my confusion concerning gesso has been cleared up, and I learned that my impression of the stuff was way off. :p

Once again, thank you!

Morning Glory