How to Apply Gesso

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How to Apply gesso

When you've stretched a canvas, the next step is to prime it so you can paint on it. With a ready-made gesso suitable for both acrylic and oil painting, this is easy.

Difficulty: Easy


Time Required: Depends on the size of canvas
Why use gesso ? 
Gesso is archival. Raw canvas requires a “barrier” or the paint won’t handle properly, will sink in and eventually rot the canvas.

1.Plastic polymer paint is not Gesso. “Real” Gesso (which means ‘gypsum’ in Italian), is primarily rabbit glue and gypsum.
2.Most “gesso” used today is a plastic polymer.
3.Acrylic paint needs no “gesso”. Modern “gesso” was formulated by acrylic paint companies so they could sell more acrlic product. You can put acrylic paint directly on most grounds.

Here's How To Apply:

  1. Make sure you buy a bottle of gesso that's suitable for both acrylic and oil painting. This dries very fast and is painted directly on to the stretched canvas. You can get it right here on Ebay, Click here

  2. Shake the container very well before using. Do not skip this step!

  3. Decide whether you're going to apply one or a few coats of gesso. One coat gives a rougher finish. If you're applying only one coat, use the gesso as it comes out of the bottle.

  4. If you're going to apply several coats, dilute the gesso with a mixture of half acrylic gloss medium and half water.

  5. Using an old, wide brush, or a sponge brush, apply the gesso directly to the stretched canvas in even strokes. Work from the top to the bottom of the canvas, in parallel strokes from one edge to the other.

  6. When you're done, wash your brush out immediately with soap and water. Once gesso has dried on a brush, it won't come out.


  1. A cheap decorating brush works well, but wash it several times before you use it as the hairs tend to fall out. My method is to use a sponge brush, no bristle marks and easy to clean, If you want the brush to be thinner, cut off some of the hairs with a pair of scissors.

  2. Instead of diluting the gesso, you can sand down the canvas between coats if you want a smoother finish.

  3. Gesso thinned with water only, rather than gloss medium and water, tends to crack.

  4. Gesso can also be used to prime hardboard.

What You Need

  • Gesso

  • Wide brush/Or sponge brush


Ebay links to buy

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