Using Guesso Instead of White Paint [Archive] - Artist Forum

: Using Guesso Instead of White Paint

04-27-2016, 03:59 PM
If you are new to acrylics, you may be wondering - what is gesso and why do I need to know about it? Step right up - this page will tell you all about the glories of gesso and how to use it.

Gesso is an important art supply to get your canvas ready for painting which you can apply it to any surface and then you can paint on that surface with acrylic paint. Gesso is made for acrylic paint to bind to it in a way that looks non-plasticky and gives the application dimensionality. If you applied paint directly on the canvas, the finished product has a plasticky look

Gesso is not only a better surface than white paint but also gives some texture to the surface. But what's more important, if you don't use gesso, the canvas will soak the painting and you will spend more paint. Almost all canvas you buy has been primed with gesso but I advice you to put another coat of gesso over it, or two.

Using gesso you can ultimately paint on anything, from canvas to cotton to vinyl, to wood, plastic, rubber - it creates a painting surface for paint to adhere to.

It provides an excellent surface to paint on. It adheres well to most surfaces, and provides a great surface itself, without over-absorbing your medium

Applying gesso will establish a better "working surface", as it forms tiny rough edges for paint to cling to. Also, it's gonna dry a lot faster than oil paint

04-27-2016, 08:38 PM
I've read that you can use house paint primer instead of gesso. Anyone try that?

M Winther
05-15-2016, 12:28 AM
I've read that you can use house paint primer instead of gesso. Anyone try that?

Of course, acrylate house paint is essentially the same as acrylic paint:

"Acrylate polymers belong to a group of polymers which could be referred to generally as plastics. They are noted for their transparency, resistance to breakage, and elasticity. They are also commonly known as acrylics or polyacrylates" (Wikipedia).

There are many different formulas, of course, but all would do as primers for acrylics. The difference is that they do not contain "tooth", that is, there are no silicates (e.g.) added to create a coarse surface.

Although tooth is not necessary when painting with acrylics, oil painters are recommended to use a gesso proper, because the oil does not create a chemical bound to the acrylic ground. The oil paint layer has only the structure of the acrylic layer to cling to. This seems to be good enough, however. Delamination doesn't seem to occur, whether or not the ground has tooth. But we can't be certain what will happen in a hundred years.

Acrylic paint, however, creates a chemical bound to the underlying acrylic/acrylate layer. So that's why it's not necessary that it has tooth. However, a coarse surface could be attractive to paint on. The conclusion is that acrylic painters need not buy an expensive gesso. In my view, house paint primer is fine, if you have got a can in the garage.

Mats Winther