Gesso Was the First Step

I created these two small works by smearing a thickish layer of white gesso on the surface (which was prepared with a layer of black gesso) and drawing in the images with a knitting needle. Then I used acrylics, crayons, and inks for the colors. It gives a nice texture, the gesso does.

6″ x 6″, December 2019.

8 thoughts on “Gesso Was the First Step

  1. Claudia McGill Post author

    I think it is the effect of the strong white base I started with. I used a lot of materials but the light color really illuminates them, I think.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I would not have thought the gesso would have such a big effect on the colors. I expected texture but not the clarity. I will try this again.

  3. agnesashe

    Oh yes, I love this process. Gesso gives something extra and a bit different. Do you think it is that it absorbs pigment to a higher density than others surfaces?

  4. Claudia McGill Post author

    Yes, the purpose of gesso is to provide a sort of primer, and so it grabs the paint and holds it rather than it sliding away or dissipating somewhat with each brushstroke. Also this gesso is a very white white and the brilliance seems to amplify the colors. I also have a black gesso that does the opposite, keeps the intensity of the color but adds a richness to it, a sort of turning in of the color rather flaring out, if that makes any sense. The white gesso I have is also very thick, and that gives texture, which concentrates color too, by catching hold of more paint. They make thick acrylic mediums that you can mix paint with (gesso is not for mixing, just preparing a surface) that can give a textured look but not the color, I think. This is maybe TMI but I think it’s so interesting how the layers of materials always interact with each other. I find myself being interested in the same thing in clay, with glazes.

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    You’re welcome. Yes, black gesso is fantastic, it gives a whole different feel to the paints, and I also like painting on a dark surface. Somehow it sets your mind into a whole different direction than the usual white.

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