Daily Archives: July 19, 2011

Art Journaling 101: Supply Basics – Taking the Mystery Out of Gesso

Social Media Team

Julie Ann Shahin, Social Media Team

Taking the Mystery Out of Gesso

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, and then a handful of free online tutorials of gesso techniques. Enjoy!



One very useful website for information on using Gesso in Art Journaling is Aisling’s Artist’s Journals. 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 is sold at art stores and big box crafts stores in the paint aisle. You can buy it online as well…usually it is at least $10 however, I found this Certified Artist’s Gesso for less than $7 here. If anyone can testify to it, please leave a comment. The same link offers many other types and brands of Gesso. Usually I have used Liquitex and Golden.



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.

Here is a wonderful video by Milliande creating an art journal page with Gesso:

Source: youtube.com via Julie on Pinterest


Let’s see some projects using gesso:

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

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

Background Gesso Texture: Made for Mary Green's Paper collage class. The gesso is white digital paint over torn papers to make an unusual background. Texture free to use. If you do, let me know, I'd love to see what you create. This also looks great with a dark texture underneath and blended with the Blend If tool !


Source: flickr.com via Julie on Pinterest


Copyright 2008 Judy Scott All Rights Reserved


Source: flickr.com via Julie on Pinterest


by Kathryn Johnson

Supplies: Image transfer, mono print, gesso & paint layers, masking, spray ink


Source: flickr.com via Julie on Pinterest


by Didi aka OnFoot4Now

Artist states: “My acrylic paints, gesso, pages from old textbook, printout from my digi stash and a bit of a magazine clipping.”


Time Is A Circus by itstimetostamp (Kristy C)

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

by dearlydee

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



by Pringle Hill (Terri Kahrs)

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

by Francoise MELZANI



Grace by By Bellah (gabriella travaline)

by Bellah (gabriella travaline)


Source: flickr.com via Julie on Pinterest


by ke_cupcake (Elaine)


Journal Pages by By beamahan (Bea Mahan)

by beamahan (Bea Mahan)


Source: flickr.com via Julie on Pinterest


Cream Journal by FishStikk (Debi)
There is alot of collage here with vintage Time articles and clippings, tags from work, paper towels handmade papers and of course the beads on the tiara. And of course, lots of gesso.



From grrlscrap.blogspot.com – lots of gesso and tags



From gingerbread.typepad.com – gorgeous collage and gesso work




From cathyb.typepad.com- Great Texture. Gesso sprayed with Shimmerz.



From leblogamarca.over-blog.com – Dye and alcohol inks on gesso and embossing powders



From daisyyellow.squarespace.com – inks, stamped with gesso, plus correction tape to set up journaling spots


Tutorials Using Gesso:

Source: youtube.com via Julie on Pinterest


The One Minute Muse – Art Journal Technique – Gesso Figure




From thecraftbarnblog.blogspot.com – working with gesso



Source: freewebs.com via Wendy on Pinterest


From freewebs.com – Gesso and magazine images tutorial




From mixedmediaart.net – gesso resistance background technique



From splitcoaststampers.com – Gesso Resist Tutorial



Gesso and Stencils by bloombakecreate.com

Gesso With Stencils Tutorial from bloombakecreate.com



From thecolorroom.ning.com – Make your own borders with masking tape, shimmerz, stamps and gesso!




How To Make Gesso



Tee's Gesso Recipe

Tee’s Gesso Recipe



Julie Ann Shahin is a New York-based art journaler, scrapbooker, mixed media craftster who specializes in hybrid and altered art techniques. She will be blogging regularly for tangiebaxter.com on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You may contact Julie Ann directly at julieann dot shahin at gmail dot com


Get Started in Art Journaling

Featured Products & Workshops

Tangie on Youtube

The Etsy Shop



July 2011
« Jun   Aug »

Content Disclaimer

We give 100% full credit to any images used on this blog and links back to the original blogs or when being inspired from Pinterest or any other site. We also try to obtain permission whenever possible. We are simply trying to spread the love of art with everyone. If we have shared a piece of your art you would like us to remove, we surely will, just use the "Contact" page.