Oil Painting Workshop #7: How to Gesso Canvas or Panels–A Painting Supplies Demonstration

Some painting surfaces need to be gessoed
before they are ready for oil or acrylic painting. In this video, I will show you how easy this
is to do! I’m Sarah F. Jayne, welcome to this episode
of my painting videos. You don’t really need to gesso your canvas
if you are using pre-primed rolled canvas or linen or a canvas pad such as this Fredrix
brand canvas pad since it already has a layer of gesso or other primer. Some painters prefer
the more absorbent surface that one or more additional layers of gesso provides. There
are some surfaces that require gesso such as this raw canvas and linen and also hardboard
or wood panels such as these. It’s also helpful to gesso paper, such as when painting
on these Strathmore 400-series pads. A demo on that can be seen in Oil Painting Workshop
Video #1. If you’re using panels, you need to size them by painting the front and back of each panel. Now let’s apply the gesso. First you’ll
need the gesso. Traditionally, gesso was made with chalk, rabbit skin glue, and white paint.
Nowadays, most painters use acrylic gesso. That’s what I’m using here. I buy a 1
gallon container of gesso and then pour some into a glass jar with a tightly sealing lid.
This makes it easier for me to handle and keeps the bulk of the gesso fresher with less
dust particles introduced. Notice that I put a piece of wax paper over the jar before putting
the lid back on. This makes it so that the lid doesn’t stick and it’s always easy
to open. Next, you need a wide brush. You can use a
house painting bristle brush, but I prefer a wide watercolor wash brush as it leaves
less brushstrokes. Of course, you’ll need the painting support
that you’re planning to gesso. By laying your piece of canvas or board on a piece of
wax paper or newspaper, you can be sloppy about painting over the edges and you can
move the painted piece out of the way without having to handle it. Some people add up to 25% water to the first
coat so that it goes on more smoothly. I am just as happy not doing this, but do experiment
to see which way you like it. To get the gesso to really absorb in raw canvas, you’ll need
to brush in one direction and then in the other to meld it into the interstices or crevices
of the canvas weave. Then smooth your brushwork out. OR, you may like the effect of painting
over a rougher brushstrokey surface! After the gesso thoroughly dries, sand it
with a 400-grit or higher sandpaper. You can apply as many coats as you wish. If you’re
gessoing wood panels, such as basswood, it’s a good idea to gesso the reverse side of the
panel as well. Now, your canvas or panel is ready to paint
on. For an easy economical way to provide a firm support for your canvas, watch the
next video about painting supports (#8). It provides a perfect lightweight solution for
transporting wet canvases. I hope you enjoyed this video. I invite you
to subscribe to my YouTube channel. If you have any questions about this video, comment
below or email me via my website, www.OldGarden.com. I look forward to painting with you.

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