Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Preparing a Canvas with Gesso

How to prepare an acrylic painting canvas

What You Need:
  • Gesso
  • Wide brush (At least an inch, wider if you have a large canvas)
  • Sandpaper that is 240 grit  (if you want to sand the layers in between each other for a smooth painting)
  1. Buy a tub of premixed white gesso and give it a stir. You don't want lumps on your painting. It  really comes down to personal preference. I work from a tube to put it directly on the canvas, I also don't usually paint larger than 16x20. If I am painting a large number of paintings or a very large painting, I buy a tub to save on coasts and I can control the amount of gesso on my brush for each stroke.
  2. The first coat should be diluted with a touch of water. It will soak into the fabric and help to prevent cracking. This is a very thin layer.
  3. Allow to dry, then apply a second coat. This layer does not need to have water added to it. If you want a more absorbent surface, add another layer.
  4. Apply a final coat using the pure, undiluted gesso.
 TIPS:
  1. Using a 3 inch decorators brush, apply the gesso directly to the stretched canvas in even strokes. Work from the top to the bottom of the canvas, in parallel strokes from one edge to the other.
  2. When applying the gesso turn the canvas 90 degrees between coats to insure an even coverage.
  3. Sand between layers to get rid of any brush stokes if you desire and smooth surface
  4. Wash your brush out immediately in running water then use a brush cleaner to thoroughly remove the gesso out. It’s worth cleaning it twice even if you think it’s clean.
Why Gesso?
  1. My main reason for gesso on a canvas is to save costs on oil or acrylic painting. The first layer of paint will soak a significant amount more into the fabric than onto a layer of paint.
  2. Helps stiffen canvas for a more firm surface to work on.
  3. If working with oil paint, it will prevent the oil from soaking through and ruining/staining anything it touches behind the painting.