Best Way To Apply Gesso To Canvas

If you are an experienced artist or just beginning to explore painting, it is crucial to apply gesso to your canvas. This primer, typically a combination of chalk, gypsum, and pigment in a binding agent, creates a uniform and receptive base for your paints. Let us now examine the optimal method for applying gesso to a canvas.

Materials Needed

  • Gesso: You can purchase this at any art supply store. Acrylic gesso is suitable for both acrylic and oil paints.
  • Brush or roller: A wide, flat brush or foam roller ensures smooth, even coverage.
  • Canvas: Ensure it’s clean and free from dust.
  • Water and cloth: For cleanup and smoothing the gesso.

Steps to Apply Gesso

  1. Prepare your workspace: Protect your workspace from any unwanted gesso splatters with a drop cloth or newspaper.
  2. Stir the gesso: Before using, give your gesso a good stir. Ensure it’s well mixed but not so much that you create air bubbles.
  3. Apply the gesso: Dip your brush or roller into the gesso, ensuring it’s not overloaded, and begin to apply it to your canvas. Use long, even strokes, working in one direction (horizontal or vertical).
  4. Let it dry: Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly. This can take an hour, but it’s best to leave it overnight to ensure it has fully dried.
  5. Apply additional coats: If needed, apply further coats in the opposite direction to the last, allowing each to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
  6. Sand the canvas: To achieve a smooth finish, lightly sand the canvas between coats using fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure to clean off any dust before applying the next coat.

Tips for a Perfect Gesso Application

  • Mixed Media: If you are using mixed media, consider using clear gesso. It retains the absorbency of white gesso but allows the underlying canvas or other media to show through.
  • Texture: To add texture to your canvas, you can mix the gesso with modeling paste before applying, or apply it thickly and use the brush or a palette knife to create patterns and textures.
  • Sealing: Gesso can also be used to seal found objects or other porous media before incorporating them into your artwork.

Applying gesso may seem like an extra step, but it’s essential for a successful painting. It prevents paint from soaking into the canvas, helping your colors stand out and ensuring the longevity of your artwork.

So grab your gesso, canvas, and brush, and let’s get priming!