Flashback Fridays-Art Journaling 101: Supply Basics – Taking the Mystery Out of Gesso July 29 2016, 0 Comments

Over the years we've been fortunate to have Julie Ann Shahin share some wonderful art journaling series with the TB&CO readers.  We will be re-posting some of them here on this blog.  Please note these may be altered from the original posts to update links, provide information on newer programs, etc


When I started out in mixed media and art journaling, it took me forever to figure out what Gesso is used for.  It seemed to me that I heard the term used quite often, but could never figure out quite exactly how and why it was used.  Let me put you on the fast track to learning all about Gesso today! 

My first word of advice is you do not have to go out and buy Gesso right away!  Some artists use Gesso all the time, some artists never use it.  If you are a beginner, I suggest take your time just doing art journaling with what you have, but read this and have the knowledge of what Gesso is.  You’ll know when you’re ready to buy Gesso.  When I was a beginner, the curiousity of Gesso was killing me…I just couldn’t find anyone to explain it to me to my satisfaction.  So check out this post, and then put Gesso on your wish list!
This article will also show you a number of projects using gesso.  Enjoy!


In an art journal, one can use Gesso underneath paint, under embellishments, as a support under heavy collage, to keep acrylics and markers from bleeding through to the next page, and to adhere two pages together in an altered book to make them strong enough to art journal on.  You can also transform a glossy paper or covering to a matte one with Gesso.

Gesso looks like paint unless it is Clear Gesso.  Most often you will see Gesso in white, less often in black, but it does come in many colors 

Gesso, unlike paint, creates a rough surface when applied, which allows other mediums to catch to it.  It is not as thick as paint, so it can merge into the background.  You can add acrylic paint to Gesso.  You will get a muted in color, chalky result when you add a color acrylic to Gesso.  However, the acrylic paint will now be thicker.  Milliande.com 
suggests using Golden Acrylic Paints to mix with Gesso as “as they have a lovely color intensity in their pigment but also don’t alter the fluidity of the gesso too much.” She also suggests, “You can also add concentrated watercolors like Dr PH Martins Watercolors or colored inks. Colored pigments can be added to gesso as well like twinkling H2o’s, Pearl Ex Powders for a shimmering effect.” .  You can use just a foam brush with gesso. Or you can use an implement to create a texture, such as a comb to leave ridges.

Let's see some projects using Gesso:

Valentine Postcard Swap Hand stitching, gesso, stamps, and flowers on recycled packing paper. by HagitR All Rights Reserved


  Time Is A Circus by itstimetostamp (Kristy C)

Supplies: Black Gesso, layers of ephemera underneath , acrylics, graphite, stamping. Collage image is one artist got a few years back from Bernie Berlin.-she used peerless watercolors to add some color to the image.


Art Journal Page by dearlydee

Supplies: Old envelope, lace, staples, masking tape, gesso, sequins.


by Pringle Hill (Terri Kahrs)
Supplies: Mixed media journal spread created for 2011 calendar project. The background was created with Inktense pencils over gesso and fluid acrylics.



art journal: dreams by Francoise MELZANI 


 Grace by By Bellah (gabriella travaline)


Journal Pages by By beamahan (Bea Mahan)


If you're interested in Digital Gesso check out these offerings at TB&CO:

Gesso Messy No.1-No.16 {Bundle}


Gesso Messy the Truckload {Commercial Use}

Gesso Messy the Truckload {Commercial Use}

Gesso Messy the Truckload {Personal Use}

Gesso Messy the Truckload {Personal Use}


 [Posted by Joy]