All about Gesso!

What is Gesso?

Gesso is a type of primer that is often used in painting. Its purpose is to create a smooth, even surface on a canvas or other painting surface, which makes it easier to apply paint and other materials.

How do I apply Gesso?

Gesso is applied to painting surfaces using a brush or other tool. Typically, gesso brushes are wide and flat, to enable even application. You can apply any number of layers – although typically, between 1-3 layers will suffice. Ensure you allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. This helps to build up a smooth, even surface that will be ideal for painting.

Find Gesso Brushes here.

Do I need to use Gesso?

If you are working on an unprimed canvas, gesso is essential, as it prevents your wet paint from sinking straight through the canvas fibers!

If you are working on a primed canvas, further application of gesso is purely personal preference. At Art Shed Brisbane, most stretched canvas available to purchase are primed (for example, the Mont Marte Premium Stretched Canvas range is triple primed).

You will be able to find out whether your canvas is primed by reading the information sheet attached.

What is gesso made from?

Gesso is typically made from a mixture of glue, chalk or gypsum, and pigment. The glue acts as a binder, holding the other ingredients together and allowing the gesso to stick to the painting surface. The chalk or gypsum provides a white, powdery substance that helps to fill in any cracks or imperfections in the surface, creating a smooth and even texture. Finally, pigment is added to give the gesso its colour.


Shop Gesso here.