Tag Archives: gesso

Work in Progress

Work in Progress, Tropical Garden, Acrylic, by Lucinda Howe

Last week I gave you a lot to read, so this week I’ll make it easy for you.  Watch the short video below to see a large painting in progress.  Plan to come to visit during the Columbia Open Studio weekend May 21-22, 2011 to see if I have finished the piece. Hope to see you soon!

[qt:/videos/TropicalGarden2011.mov 320 240]

More information about Columbia Open Studios

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Gesso Drawing

Structure of painting has been created with black gesso

Warm glaze is applied over entire surface

The finished piece shows little evidence of the gesso drawing.

Another painting using the black gesso and warm glaze technique.

Last week I talked about using gesso to establish the dark structure of a painting.  You can use the gesso full strength for solid black or dilute it for gray tones.

Once the gesso is dry, paint a warm color glaze made of fluid acrylic paint mixed with glazing or gloss medium in a middle value.  The glaze establishes a warm underpainting and adds a hint of color on top of the black.

After the glaze is dry, add some opaque lights to create a full value range and some cool middle values for color contrast. Leave some of the transparent glaze showing to contract with the opaque paint.

When the painting is finished, there is very little evidence of the gesso.

The last painting of the low country salt marsh and palmettos was created using the same black gesso and warm glaze technique.  This was a demo for the acrylic painting class I’ve been teaching in the last few weeks.

Click here for more information about the class.

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Gesso: It’s Not Just Primer Any More

Acrylic gesso (pronounced JESS-o) is a water-based primer that is used to prepare a surface for painting.  It decreases the absorbency of paper, adds “tooth” (rough texture) to smooth surfaces, and improves the adhesion of acrylic paint.  Originally only a white primer, gesso is now available in white, black, gray, clear, and a variety of colors.  It can also be mixed with acrylic paint to create custom colors, allowing the artist to establish a color tone in the base layer.  Apply with a brush, roller, or sprayer, and mix with other acrylic mediums to add texture.

In addition to surface preparation, black gesso can be used over a white gesso surface to create a two-value drawing to establish the value structure of a painting.  The advantage to using black gesso is that it accepts the next payer of paint the same way as the white gesso.

Black gesso can also be an unusual basis for a painting.  Build up layers of semi-transparent paint, leaving some of the black showing for a moody, atmospheric effect.

Another use is for making corrections.  Opaque gesso can be used like “WiteOut” to reestablish a fresh surface on an unsuccessful section of a painting.  In fact, you can paint over an entire painting and start over completely.

So look around your studio and start experimenting with new ways to use your gesso.  Post a comment and let me know how you use gesso.

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