type of gesso [Archive] - Artist Forum

: type of gesso

01-26-2019, 02:50 PM
I was at a local artists estate sale and bought several boards primed with gesso. These had been in a storage unit for awhile. I was wondering if there was a way to tell for sure if an oil or acrylic gesso was used as I did not know this person. I want to paint with acrylic and I know you should not paint acrylic over oil. Is there any way to tell for sure which it is?

01-31-2019, 06:30 AM
I have done some research on gesso and I don't think that it will matter whether the gesso is oil based or water based. To tell the difference, just put a couple drops of water in a corner of the board and see if the water is absorbed or not. If water based gesso, it should soak in fairly quick, if it is oil based gesso, the beads should just sit there.
Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, but I have gone down a rabbit hole of making my own gesso (I am acrylic also). After looking at YouTube videos and seeing what is available at the hardware, I think that artists have been ripped off for years on gesso.
I am also a home-brewer, and as soon as you put Homebrew in the name the price jumps 300%. An example: before we went full-time RVers, I made beer on the carport with my oldest son. We were making 10 gallon batches in a 25 gallon brewpot. Now that brewpot cost me $105 from a restaurant supply, but the same brewpot with the words 'home brew' attached was $300. So hobbies are expensive.
Same with gesso, the ingredients are the same as spackling compound at the big box, but it is just waaaay cheaper. Why pay for 'artist gesso' if spackling is the same thing, just cheaper and in a much larger container?
So some 'artist' will say - that can't be right. Check for yourself, and while you are checking - do a little art history and you will find that artists make art on whatever was available to them and whatever they had to work with. They did not have art supply stores in every town. Just remember that gesso is used to prepare a surface (canvas, board, paper, etc.) for paint - oil or acrylic. Most water color paper is ready for paint, it just needs taping to a flat surface.
Sorry for the long ramble, have fun painting!

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01-31-2019, 08:21 AM
Thank you for your informative reply. Have been doing acrylic on leather which I finally was told by another competitive art forum was mixed media. No gesso was needed for that. I had thought when went to the estate auction and bought brushes, canvas, and a travel easel I wanted to start regular painting. Of course they did not start selling the artists paintings until after the supplies were sold. I felt so sad for the artist to see the paintings selling for a fraction of what the frames cost, it took the heart out of me to begin. Now I am ready as I am doing it for myself before I no longer can. Your reply will get me going. Thanks again.

02-04-2019, 07:26 AM
Any time art is auctioned at an estate sale, I always wonder where the deceased person's family is. Maybe they don't care.
Acrylic paint is the best! First, it's quick drying time (and if you paint Pleine Aire, that is a plus - the clocks ticking!), Second, you don't have to prep with gesso - I went for years onto regular 8 X 10 canvas boards for the texture, and Third, easy clean up! There are probably many more advantages over oil, but these are important to me.
Those folks that say acrylic on leather is mixed medium are considering the leather as part of the art work. I do not consider a canvas board or paper or wood or whatever as part of the art unless it is part of the story. Example: barn painted on old barn wood, or Native American scene painted on leather, or drift wood in the shape of a bird and then painted, etc. Maybe my definition is too restrictive, but as I wander in art galleries they always list the name of the painting (if it has one), the artist's name, the medium and canvas, board, masonite panel, wood, etc. and then the size. And if a gallery - the price, if a museum - the donor or lender. I probably need to consider the total object as the art work and not just the artist who has turned fabric stretched on a frame into art.
Have fun with your (new to you) frames and remember: it's more fun to color outside the lines!

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02-04-2019, 04:27 PM
The family was there and after seeing a few good paintings sell for next to nothing they jumped in and stopped the sale. There were many paintings. Right now I have to carve the leather pictures first then paint in much the same manner as watercolor except with acrylics. It presents problems as leather absorbs the color and is layered in in washes. That, of course, takes a lot of time and makes more problems as the dilution dulls the color.
One foot in two different worlds and starting to mess up the leather trying standard painting techniques. So for this side of my work I not only have to color within the lines , I have to cut the lines with a knife. lol Will be glad to try the acrylics by themselves and have more fun like you said.

By the way, I did the water drop test. It sat on the board and stayed there until it evaporated.

02-04-2019, 06:26 PM
So that you can continue with your unique leather painting, try Gloss Medium instead of water to create your colors. I do not know of a way to seal the cut leather so that it doesn't pull the water out of the acrylic paint. Gloss Medium adds a gloss finish to acrylic paint and makes the paint look like oil paints. It may work for you.
And you will be able to experiment with the recently acquired frames while continuing with the leather work. Just an idea and good luck!

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02-15-2019, 12:09 PM
Have done more research on the mediums that steamyb told me about and have found that for my leather painting I can use the acrylic air brush medium to thin my paints. It is more of a liquid. In leather, the color is supposed to be transparent enough you can see the grain of the leather through it. Although rules seem to be changing. And as the leather is carved (sculpted) underneath I guess it would be accurate to say the carved leather is part of the artwork, so mixed medium works. Like a house, you have to have a good foundation. Thanks for all the advice. I have put it to good use.
Here is a photo of a current work in progress. Will cover a frame in leather to match this.