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How to Prime a Canvas with Acrylic Gesso?

For painting and wallpapering, a primer is applied, in-car paints, a primer is used and in painting, an introduction is first applied to the paint surface. The primer of the canvas protects the canvas from decay in the long term and reduces its absorbency. If the painting surface has not been primed, the paint film lies directly on the art and attacks the fiber.

However, the canvas primer can also be used creatively to give the painting a structure. Uneven ground is a reasonable basis for creating abstract art or relief-like works.

In this article, you will learn what a Gesso primer is, what materials you need to prime a canvas, and how to prime your canvas step-by-step to get the best result for your intended use.

What is a Gesso primer?

A canvas is usually primed with Gesso, a mixture of chalk, white pigment and a binder. The exact compositions vary depending on which Gesso you use. The most common is the Gesso, which is used in acrylic and oil painting.

You can use extra viscous Gesso to create flexible surface structures similar to a modeling paste.

Apply primer: the materials

You only have to apply a primer if your painting surface has not been pre-primed by the manufacturer, or the primer appears too thin for you. All paper or stretched stretcher frames can be primed.

It seems necessary when you are planning an elaborate piece of art that you or a buyer should enjoy for a long time without the quality decreasing.

Apart from the painting background, you need:

  • Malschwamm  or big brush
  • Possibly. Small bowl for the Gesso

Step-by-Step Guide

  • First, you should sort of yourself. Just as before each painting session, you should arrange the materials you need within reach so that you no longer have to search during the priming process. You can dive the brush directly into the Gesso container, or you can put enough Gesso in an open bowl to better immerse a large-scale brush or sponge.
  • You apply the first layer either vertically or horizontally, to the painting ground. Make sure not to change direction or to paint across the page to get the evenest result possible. When the entire surface is covered with Gesso, allow the layer to dry before continuing with the second layer.
  • The second layer is applied in the opposite direction to the first layer. If you applied the first layer horizontally, the second layer is applied vertically (or vice versa). After the order, you let the Gesso layer dry.
  • If necessary, you can repeat this process. Usually, however, two to three layers are enough for Gesso to prime the canvas completely.
  • Depending on the desired effect, you can incorporate your last layer in relief or smoothly apply and then even sandpaper. A structural surface provides an excellent starting point for abstract work, whereas a perfectly smoothed primer can be used, for example, in photorealistic painting. Alternatively, you can also mix the last Gesso layer with a little water and a glossy medium to create a slightly shiny surface for Fluid Art.

Current developments

Gesso is traditionally a white liquid, but Gesso primers are now available in other colors, with which you can prepare your canvas well. In particular, transparent and black Gesso is often used to create different works or to be able to paint negative images.

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