View Full Version : Gesso/application

05-25-2011, 09:40 AM
I like to work on boards that are gessoed, but when I work on canvas, I am one of those weird guys that hates the little bumpy weave. I've always liked a smoooooth surface. I know you can get it by layering and sanding between coats....takes forever. Do any of you trowel on your gesso or use one of those big spatula-type palette knives to apply and then sand?

Derek, the smooooooth painter:lol:

05-25-2011, 10:45 AM
I thin it so that it goes on smooth. I still end up with ripples though. Spray gesso works well if you can find it.

When I have more time to paint I want to try ready made art boards. I think there are smooth ones.

05-25-2011, 10:50 AM
try an old credit card. cake angled palette knife.
Bed, Bath & Beyond
American Express

05-25-2011, 11:13 AM
Hey Howard: Thanks. I do have one of those big palette knives (cake angle). I guess like a "plasterer" you need to have the right touch to get it smooth. I'll give it a shot.
Lavender: yes, but putting it on thin still leaves you with the canvas bumps and you need endless coats. Thanks.
:) Derek

John A. Roof
05-25-2011, 11:35 AM
Derek I am different I enjoy a rougher canvas. Here is the way I get a smooth canvas with gesso. I use a brush and apply the first two coats sanding between each coat the third coat I apply with a long nap roller this seems to work in getting rid of the canvas texture. I use to paint on 3/8 MDF with two coats of gesso the gives you a great surface. tcj

05-25-2011, 12:12 PM
Thanks John: I love the MDF, but I make my own large frames now.....gets heavy. Hey thanks for the tip on the roller my friend.

05-25-2011, 01:06 PM
I thin the Gesso and apply it to my Hardboard panel with a 3 inch paint roller. It gives me a more consistent texture. The thinner the gesso, the lighter the texture. Use a short nap roller.


05-25-2011, 01:08 PM
hi Don, thanks: I do the same on my hardboard. My real concern is with canvas.:) derek

05-25-2011, 03:32 PM
Derek, my main recommendation with this kind of problem is to use the smoothest fabric possible to start with - saves both 'gesso' and time since there's less texture to contend with. The smoothest fabric of the kind generally sold to artists is probably one of the polyesters, which have another advantage in that they don't go slack and taut with changes in humidity.

Also, you don't have to sand between applications if you don't want to. The main reason to do this is to reduce the buildup of texture from brushed-on layers; even doing subsequent coats at 90 degrees to the previous one you can get a pretty impressive texture.

But if you're sanding to get a smooth finish you can sand right down to flat in one go. Also it's good to apply the primer as smoothly as possible to begin with - no brushmarks = much less sanding needed.


M Douglas
05-25-2011, 03:44 PM
Hi Derek, I'm another one who likes a smooth surface to work on and I hate streaky gesso on my canvas's so like some of the others I use thinned down gesso with a sponge roller, it gives it a nice almost eggshell effect it also works good for dry brushing. I usually put on 4 coats, both diagonals, 1 vertical and 1 horizontal ending with directional layout of my painting eg portrait or landscape view.


05-25-2011, 03:59 PM
Einion: Thanks so much for the tip on the polyester: I'm sure Jerry's has it.

Melodie: Will try that roller deal. Thanks.

You guys are great. I love to experiment and will try your great advice.
:) Derek

05-25-2011, 06:31 PM
If you want a smooth canvas surface without the sanding, try Golden light molding paste. Here's a link to the golden site, scroll about half way down to the Creating Smooth Surfaces With Molding Paste video.


05-25-2011, 10:54 PM
Kathy: What a great video: Thanks very much. Derek:)

Lady Carol
05-25-2011, 11:33 PM
I am with Howard, I use a credit card to apply gesso. It is a great way to get gesso on the weave divots only. Then let it dry a bit and brush lightly with a fan brush. Let fully dry and apply again if necessary

05-26-2011, 09:32 AM
THanks Carol: so many ways to skin a cat......or is it gesso a canvas?:lol:
I appreciate it.

05-26-2011, 08:36 PM

why not use smooth portrait canvas.....Yarka makes a very extra smooth one - Jerry's has them.......


05-26-2011, 09:42 PM
Blue: I knew you would show up....You Da MAN!
Will check Jerry's.
Derek of Northwest Jersey!

05-27-2011, 06:00 PM
I generally start with portrait smooth canvas and make it smoother from there.