Experimenting with gesso

This post is a Gesso Sampler as I’ve been experimenting with gesso this week for Crusade no 25!

My jar of gesso

    Gesso [‘dʒɛsːo] is the Italian word for “Board chalk” (akin to the Greek word “gypsum”), and is a powdered form of the mineral calcium carbonate used in art. [..] Modern acrylic “gesso” is actually a combination of calcium carbonate with an acrylic polymer medium latex, a pigment and other chemicals that ensure flexibility, and ensure long archival life. It is sold premixed for both sizing and priming a canvas for painting. [quote from wikipedia.org]

The quote above explains that gesso is a white sticky paint mixed in a jar. It’s probably sold at an artist or craft store near you. And if you ask me, you need it! Get a big jar and start playing the artsy-fartsy game too!

crusade no 25

Gesso SamplerI remember a few years back when I read Lynne Perrella’s book Artists’ Journals and Sketchbooks. I was so frustrated that I didn’t know what gesso was and that I couldn’t look up words like that in my dictionary. I couldn’t get to sleep at night as I was thinking about where to get it and what to do with it… I can still feel this frustration when reading my favorite mag Cloth Paper Scissors sometimes when they namedrop interesting materials and new tools that are not pictured nor translatable to Swedish. But at least I know gesso by now, and I’m thankful for that.

Gesso Sampler

Gesso SamplerWhen I first got hold of gesso it made me feel (more than anything else) like a true artist! I’ve been using it as a primer in my altered books for years now! But gesso can be used in a lot of ways.

Let’s have a look, shall we?!

Handcarved swirl stamp loaded with gesso on a page in my Art Journal. Stamping with gesso makes a raised and interesting mark, that can then be painted over with acrylic paint. Here it’s orange on top of the gesso.

Then as the spread dried I went on to play on ordinary brown paper from a recent load of craft books (yummy stuff!) that I got in the mail! It was stuffed around the books as packing material and already had that lovely crumpled look. All I had to do was cut out smaller pieces and smooth it out a bit to start my Gesso Sampler! Talk about recycling, huh? So here it is;

Gesso Sampler
This is a pattern that I made with a wet sponge dipped in first gesso, then pink acrylic paint! I love how it looks together! Great background for any mixed media art or journaling.

Then I kind of freaked out with the sequin waste and bubble wrap!

Gesso Sampler
Painted gesso through the sequin waste holes, they are even but quite raised. Then I tried to go a bit further and drew with watercolor pencils on top of the gesso to see how that looks.

Gesso Sampler
The flower is acrylic paint stamped with a huge foam stamp on brown paper. The first flower is “as is” and the second one was covered with gesso and then polished with a napkin to kind of bring the pink back again, which makes it looks soft.

Gesso Sampler
I pressed the bubble wrap into the gesso and stamped it to the paper. I could just bubble wrap-stamp all day, oh how fun it is!

Gesso Sampler
I also painted gesso through a plastic table cloth with a lacy pattern. When it was dry I added blue acrylic paint to half of it to see the result. The gesso shines through in a very cool way. This result is my favorite of these experiments, as it was new to me. I will continue to stamp acrylic paint on brown paper and then paint on top of that!

I ♥ this crusade!

This is my post for Crusade number 25 for the Street team, and my experimentations with gesso was inspired by Michelle Ward’s post Properties of gesso! I have several things left to try with gesso. Resists with gesso, for example. That’s when you spritz water over the paint to make the gesso under come through!

And yeah, if you’re like me you will want all the background information too!?

Background information

A bit more information for the newbie artist:

Gesso Sampler
Bubble wrap and sequin waste!

Bubble wrap is a pliable transparent plastic material commonly used for packing fragile items. Regularly spaced, protruding air-filled hemispheres (“bubbles”) provide cushioning for breakable items or can be used as a stamp for fun patterns in mixed media art!

Smootches... Sequin waste is the plastic ribbon that is left over after sequins are punched out. I got mine from kind friends but you can purchase it online if you want to try it (search for punchinella). It’s great as a stencil for making patterns with gesso!

No animals was harmed during these experiments. Smilla was sleeping by my side and though my jeans got some stains, it was all well in the end and the stains could be removed!!!

If you’re here directly from the crusade I think you should check out my post Make 2009 your Art Journaling Year before you go – after you comment of course!

I ♥ deadlines

I think why I do heart the crusades so much is because they are to part. The are firstly inspiration as Michelle presents both great information and images to make you inspired. And secondly, and most important to me, they ask you to within a time limit, sit down and play! The more I think about this the more I understand my own true spirit: I work best with deadlines! I need a set time frame because I’m such a huge procrastinator! Sometimes I can set these time frames for myself, but it works best if someone else does it for me and expects result. Then I sit down and do it