Gesso on Watercolor Paper: Easily Done (Explained How)

Gesso on Watercolor Paper: Easily Done (Explained How)

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Watercolor paper is an essential tool for artists like you who enjoy working with watercolor paints. One technique you may have heard other artists talk about is using gesso on watercolor paper. Gesso is a primer that helps strengthen your paper and prevent those pesky buckling and waviness issues.

Let’s dive into why applying gesso to watercolor paper can be beneficial and how it can open up new creative possibilities for your art projects.

The use of gesso on watercolor paper opens up several exciting advantages.

  • For one thing, it creates a more durable surface for your paintings, reducing the risk of damage over time.
  • Gesso allows you to customize the texture of your paper, giving your artwork that extra touch of uniqueness and making your works stand out.
  • Applying a layer of gesso takes only about 10 to 20 minutes, and you can speed up the drying process with a blow dryer.

I wouldn’t use a heat gun as it can be too hot and damage not only the gesso but also the watercolor paper.

There may be some concerns about gesso causing your paper to curl or crack, but using clear gel gesso avoids these issues since it dries more flexible.

By experimenting with different gessos and watercolor paper squares, you’ll quickly discover which combinations give you the best results for your artistic goals.

Why Use Gesso on Watercolor Paper?

What Does Gesso Do for Watercolor?

You might wonder why gesso can be helpful for watercolor painting. Gesso, an acrylic-based white paint, creates an ideal surface for watercolor pigments to stay put. By using gesso, your watercolor paints become easier to control and spread out on paper.

Here are some key benefits of using gesso with watercolor:

  • Gesso stabilizes paper weight and prevents warping or wrinkling.
  • It creates a smooth surface, allowing the paint to adhere better.
  • Gesso prevents paint from seeping into the paper.

Overall, gesso is a valuable addition when you want a more manageable watercolor painting experience.

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How Gesso Enhances Watercolor Paper

You might think that since watercolor paper comes pre-primed and ready for painting, you don’t need to apply gesso. However, there are instances when gesso is necessary for the following reasons:

  1. Customizable Surface – Applying gesso to your watercolor paper allows you to create a range of surfaces, from smooth to textured, according to your preferences.
  2. Toned Underpainting – Gesso can be combined with watercolor for a toned underpainting, which provides a solid foundation for your artwork and helps integrate the paint and surface.
  3. Variety of Colors – Gesso comes in a range of colors, adding depth to your painting or allowing you to achieve specific effects.

So, using gesso on watercolor paper can give you something different in producing appealing and long-lasting artwork.

The next time you watercolor, remember to experiment with gesso and witness the difference it can make.

Preparing Watercolor Paper

Stretching Watercolor Paper

When working with watercolor paper, stretching it is a helpful step. Why? Because, when you wet the paper, it can buckle and warp, ruining your beautiful artwork. Stretching keeps the paper flat, so your painting remains intact. Here is a simple method:

  1. Soak your watercolor paper in water for a few minutes.
  2. Place the wet paper on a flat, clean surface, like a wooden board.
  3. Secure the paper edges using tape or staples.
  4. Allow the paper to fully dry.

Applying Gesso to Watercolor Paper

Once you’ve stretched your paper, you might wonder, “Do I need to gesso watercolor paper?” The answer lies in your preference! Gesso is not necessary, but it offers benefits. It strengthens the paper and prevents it from buckling. Plus, it gives you a more vibrant finish for your colors. So, if you choose to apply gesso, here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose the right gesso for your needs: white, clear, or colored.
  2. Use a brush, roller, or spray bottle to evenly cover the paper surface.
  3. Let the gesso dry,*usually within 10-20 minutes. Faster drying is possible with a heat gun or blow dryer.

Remember, patience is key when applying gesso to achieve the desired effect. Soon enough, you’ll enjoy the benefits of using gesso on your watercolor paper in your beautiful and long-lasting artwork!

The Gessoing Process

How To Use Gesso on Paper

Gesso can improve your watercolor paper by adding a smooth and absorbent surface. Simply place your paper on a flat surface and lightly brush gesso over the entire surface. Keep the pressure light and ensure that the gesso is evenly distributed. Once applied, be sure to give the gesso enough time to set and harden.

  • Place paper on a flat surface
  • Lightly brush gesso over the surface
  • Ensure an even distribution
  • Dry completely before using

Adding Layers of Gesso

If necessary, you can add multiple layers of gesso to your paper for extra texture and depth.

  • Apply the first layer and let it dry
  • Add a second layer with your desired texture (if needed)
  • Dry completely before using

Applying more than one layer of gesso can be beneficial, as it helps create a sturdier surface for your watercolor artwork.

However, too many layers may cause the paper to become too heavy and possibly crack. It’s vital to strike the right balance when applying layers of gesso to achieve the desired effect for your art piece.

  • Apply and dry layers one at a time
  • Create texture with additional layers (optional)
  • Be cautious of excessive layers that may lead to cracking

By following these steps, you can enhance your watercolor paper and enjoy the benefits of a smooth and absorbent surface ready for your artistic creations. Remember, it’s key to be patient and allow each layer of gesso to dry completely before adding another or starting your painting.

Choosing the Right Gesso

Best Gesso Options for Watercolor

When you’re working with watercolor, finding the right gesso can make a huge difference in your final artwork. It will allow the watercolor paint to be absorbed better and provide an even surface for you to work on. In this section, we’ll talk about the best gesso options for watercolor.

Acrylic Gesso

One of the top choices for watercolor artists is acrylic gesso. It’s versatile and works well on various surfaces, including watercolor paper.

Acrylic gesso dries quickly and provides a good base for your watercolor paints.

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But, remember to give it enough drying time—about 20 minutes—before you get started with your painting.

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Clear Gel Gesso

If you want to avoid the curling and cracking that can happen when using regular gesso, clear gel gesso is a great option.

This type of gesso is more flexible and dries less rigid, making it ideal for watercolor paper. As an added bonus, it’s almost invisible, so you won’t see any color changes in your artwork.

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White Tinted Gesso

White tinted gesso can also be a nice choice, especially if you want to create a unique textured effect by adding a hint of color to the gesso. To achieve this, simply mix white gesso with a watercolor pigment of your choice, then apply it to the watercolor paper.

You can also achieve different effects and results by purchasing an already tinted or colored gesso. Some come in gold, black and grays.

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When choosing the best gesso for your watercolor project, it’s essential to consider the type of paper you’ll be using. Thicker, 300g/sm paper is best, as it can handle paint layers without tearing or buckling. Experiment with different gesso types on smaller paper samples to find the perfect fit for you.

In short, selecting the right gesso for watercolor is a necessary step in creating vibrant, high-quality artwork. By considering your paper type and experimenting with various options, you’ll find the perfect gesso to enhance your paintings and make your artistic process more enjoyable. Happy painting!

Watercolor Techniques on Gessoed Paper

How Watercolors Behave on Gessoed Surfaces

Watercolor on gessoed paper can create interesting and exciting results. Gesso is a tried and tested primer used over hundreds of years to prepare surfaces for painting, and it can help your watercolors look more vibrant and attractive as it can control the flow of water better than paper can. It is also absorbent, which means it will suck in the water in watercolors and leave the pigment sitting on top.

To start, apply gesso to your watercolor paper. You can choose clear, white, or white tinted with a watercolor pigment. Texture the gesso with a technique of your choice. Allow it to dry, and you’re ready to paint.

When you paint watercolors on gessoed paper, they will stick and adhere differently than on regular paper. You might notice that the colors appear more vivid, and the paint takes on a unique character. This is because gesso prevents the watercolor from soaking into the paper, resulting in a more intense, textured look.

Different techniques provide different results so try to find the techniques that work for you when working on gessoed surfaces. Try wet-on-wet, dry brush, or glazing methods to create special effects and add depth to your paintings. Your creativity is your only limit when it comes to producing stunning artwork on gessoed paper.

Remember, choosing the right gesso is vital, as some types may cause your paper to curl or crack. Test various gessos on small squares of watercolor paper to see which ones give the best results. A clear gel gesso is typically more flexible and less rigid, ensuring your artwork remains intact and beautiful.

Give watercolor on gessoed paper a try! You may find it’s a game-changer for your artistic endeavors, opening up new possibilities for creative expression. Enjoy exploring this new technique and watching your artwork come to life.

Now, go ahead and unleash your creativity with watercolors on gessoed surfaces! The world is waiting to see your masterpieces!

Gesso on Watercolor Paper – Wrap Up!

Gesso can be a helpful addition to your watercolor paper before starting a painting. Applying it not only adds texture but also strengthens the paper, preventing buckling and waviness. So, let’s recap some key points when it comes to using gesso on watercolor paper.

First, try using a clear gel gesso, as it dries more flexible and is less likely to cause the paper to curl or the gesso to crack. Experiment with different types of gesso on small squares of watercolor paper to find what works best for you.

Applying gesso can be done with a roller or a spray bottle. When using a roller, start in the middle and gently roll out to the edges, making sure the roller is evenly coated. When using a spray bottle, hold it about 6 inches from the paper and spray in a circular motion.

After applying the gesso, give it about 10-20 minutes to dry before using the surface for painting. Remember, you can speed up the drying process by using a blow dryer but do not use a heat gun.

Finding the right gesso and application method for your watercolor paper is a key step in creating a stable and interesting surface for painting

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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