Gesso is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these. It is used in artwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculpture as a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it.
Traditional Gesso, also known “glue gesso” or “Italian gesso” is a traditional mix of an animal glue binder (usually rabbit-skin glue), chalk, and white pigment, used to coat rigid surfaces such as wooden painting panels as an absorbent primer coat substrate for painting. The colour of gesso was usually white or off-white. Its absorbency makes it work with all painting media, including water-based media, different types of tempera, and oil paint. It is also used as a base on three-dimensional surfaces for the application of paint or gold leaf. Mixing and applying it is an art form in itself since it is usually applied in 10 or more extremely thin layers. It is a permanent and brilliant white substrate used on wood, masonite and other surfaces. The standard hide glue mixture is rather brittle and susceptible to cracking, thus making it suitable for rigid surfaces only. For priming flexible canvas, an emulsion of gesso and linseed oil, also called “half-chalk ground”, is used.
Golden Acrylic Gesso
is a widely used ground that is a combination of calcium carbonate with an acrylic polymer medium latex, a pigment and other chemicals that ensure flexibility, and increase archival life. It is technically not gesso at all and its non-absorbent acrylic polymer base makes it incompatible with media that require traditional gesso such as egg tempera. It is sold premixed for both sizing and priming panels and flexible canvas for painting. While it does contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to increase the absorbency of the primer coat, titanium dioxide or “titanium white” is often added as the whitening agent. This allows gesso to remain flexible enough to use on canvas.
Golden Acrylic Gesso
can be colored, either commercially by replacing the titanium white with another pigment, such as carbon black, or by the artist directly, with the addition of an acrylic paint. Golden Acrylic Gesso
can be odorous, due to the presence of ammonia and/or formaldehyde, which are added in small amounts as preservatives. Art supply manufacturers market canvases pre-primed with gesso.
Below is a video of me demonstarting the tradional gesso as well as the new transparent gesso.
A very clear size and ground that keeps the working surface visible.
- Ideal high tooth for pastel, oil pastel, graphite, and charcoal
- Excellent ground for acrylic and oil paint
- Mix with acrylic color to have a tinted ground
- Dries clear to translucent depending on thickness
- Flexible, non-cracking and non-yellowing when dry
- Provides the perfect “tooth” and adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces including canvas, paper and wood
- Excellent base coat primer for many applications for example murals
for Clear Gesso
- For canvas, paper, wood, or any clean, porous, non-oily surface
- Sizes and primes while maintaining the original appearance of the surface
- Provides paper with good tooth for chalk and oil pastel techniques
- Mix with a very small amount of transparent or translucent acrylic color to tint the ground while maintaining transparency