When first starting oil painting must the practise surface always be covered in gesso?

Before using expensive pre-stretched canvasses I was thinking of either painting on card or the special canvas paper (which is slightly textured to feel like canvas). The pre-stretched canvasses already have gesso on them but the paper won't have I'm sure and I know the card doesn't have it.

Can I put oil paint straight onto these or will this just not work? I am wondering if the paint would just be soaked up into the paper and card spoiling the end result.

Also is gesso something that is easy to make oneself, or is there a substitute for it? It seems rather expensive but I want to do things correctly.

8 Answers

  • jamand
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer


    Ok - forget Gesso (or Jesso) depending on where you go or who you talk to.

    I have been oil painting as a hobby for the last 10 years or so and I have NEVER used this stuff - it is expensive and to be honest a waste of time.

    This is what I do - I go to the local DIY store and buy a small tin of ordinary white gloss paint - non drip or liquid makes no difference.

    Then using an ordinary paintbrush, paint a thin coating of the oil paint onto the canvas - hard board or the heavy paper. That is all you need to allow the colours to flow over the base colour. Just let it dry off for about 5 mins before painting onto it. Then start with the background first and work forward to the parts of the scene/s that are nearest.

    That's it - no more expense on Gesso.

    Email me if you like or want more tips - click on the Avatar to see the profile and there are my contact details.

    If you want to do night time scenes at all - e.g. dark moonlit forest scenes or the like just substitue the white gloss and use black gloss.

    If you want to take the 'sheen' off of the gloss paint - just mix a little bit of white oil paint from the tube into the mix.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Well, the short answer is simply "depends on your future intentions"

    First off there are 2 types of primers for art, there is gesso which is just gypsum and binder (basically formulated for mediums other than oil paints.) and oil primers which are alkyd based and formulated to bond with oil paints. You can use gesso, but it has a chance at delaminating in the long term and so if you were going for archival quality ... go with rabbit skin glue (which is the traditional archival quality oil primer)

    Second, bare canvas normally absorbs too much paint initially which is why canvases are primed. If you want to get around that for oils, look into an enamel primer that is oil based to seal the canvas first if you don't want to pay for actual oil paint primer for art canvas's.

    Third, I normally paint on Masonite panels if i'm not planning on using a primer. There are two types of Masonite boards, tempered and untempered. The untempered is the preferred board for painting as the surface is not oily and is therefore more suitable for the application of gesso/primer. but if you want to go straight for un-primed then tempered will last you a while.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Cheapest isn't always best.

    Gesso is a good way to make sure your paint will stick to whatever you paint on. It is a mixture of chalk and glue and is as cheap as it gets. Usually when you get cheaper they will just have added water so you still pay the same for the same effect.

    Cheapest and best way is to shop around for inexpensive canvas-board. They can be found at very reasonable prices.

    If you want to paint on paper make sure it is tough 'hot pressed' paper. Sturdy packaging paper (very cheap) will do fine(not the paterned stuff they use in shops but what they use in factories) You don't 'need' to gesso that but a layer of emulsion-paint will make it easier to paint on.

    Tape your paper to a piece of wood. It will make painting a lot more enjoyable.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • EZ
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The main point of using gesso is to seal the surface of whatever you are painting on and to smooth out irregularities in the surface texture. You do not necessarily need to use gesso on a surface to achieve this. A cheaper option is just to use an acrylic paint to form a base coat which will keep the oil from seeping into your board, or whatever else you use. This will dry fast and so it will not be mixing with the oil paint that you use on top. It is always safe to use oil on top of acrylic -but not the other way around.

    Source(s): BFA Studio Art
    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    depends on how long you want your paintings to last. When i was at uni we were taught how to make our canvases last more than 500 years - but it involved a long boring process and rabbit size.

    The best thing I have found is a white water based wood primer. It's not too expensive, easy to get hold of, and does the job well. You can use it on canvas, wood and most other surfaces.

    Anything that is oil based will rot the canvas and ruin paper/card

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • Orla C
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    No, you need some kınd of layer between the paper and the oıl paınt, otherwıse you end up wıth a gooey and dısgustıng mess. Gesso ıs one optıon, alternatıvely you could try a layer or two of PVA glue.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 4 years ago

    one among 2 reasons. First reason, you gown like a tramp and don't know it. Cleavage is gorgeous yet we don't ought to confirm it for all time. in case you finally end up donning low decrease shirts once you will his nephew's 4th social gathering then you definately attempt to entice too lots interest to your self. decide what that % is and supply up it. the different reason is that he's controlling and insecure. you ought to ask him why he has the kind of concern with it. if this is so he better than possibly will show something this is carefully on him. help him handle it and be supportive. sturdy good fortune!

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Yes! Yes

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.