Why Do You Need To Gesso Canvas

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, you may question the necessity of gessoing a canvas before painting. However, in truth, coating a canvas with gesso is a crucial step in the painting process that can significantly enhance the durability and look of your artwork.

What is Gesso?

Let’s start with the basics. Gesso is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these. It is usually used as a base for acrylic painting, oil painting and pastels, where it provides a consistent and smooth surface to paint on.

Benefits of Using Gesso on Canvas

1. Prevents Oil Paints from Seeping into the Canvas

Gesso is important because it prevents oil paints from seeping into the canvas, which can cause the fibers to rot over time. This is especially critical if you are using oil paints, which are known for their destructive nature on canvas fabric.

2. Provides a Smooth Surface

Gesso fills in the texture of the canvas, providing a smoother surface for your paint to be applied to. This means that your paint will go on more smoothly, and you will have more control over the texture of your painting.

3. Improves Paint Adhesion

Gesso helps the paint to adhere to the canvas more easily. Without gesso, the paint could peel off or chip away from the canvas over time.

4. Provides a Neutral Base

As gesso is white, it provides a neutral base for your paint colors, meaning that your paint colors will appear more vibrant and true to their actual color when applied to a gesso-ed canvas.


In conclusion, using gesso on your canvas is a critical step in the painting process. It not only improves the longevity of your painting, but also enhances the vibrancy and texture of your artwork by providing a smooth, neutral base for the paint to adhere to. It’s certainly worth the extra step to prime your canvas with gesso before starting to paint.