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Using Gesso in Mixed Media Art

While for many years, gesso may have been only used in ne ar6st circles, it has now become an essen6al amongst the mixed media toolkit. Here we will look at what gesso is and several techniques using the versa6le medium in your mixed media art. Gesso is a special type of paint that contains chalk par6cles to give it its special proper6es. It is mostly available in white but is also available in black and clear. Tradi6onally, gesso is used as an undercoat to give tooth or good texture to the surface you are pain6ng onto, before the paint is added. In your mixed media art, we can also use this undercoat layer to add texture. ADer you have applied a generous layer of gesso to your substrate, use a skewer to "draw" into the wet layered, adding words or paFerns. Then leave the artwork to dry. These markings may be obscured as you con6nue to add layers of ephemera and paint, but some of it will peek through and add further dimensions to your work. With a background of gesso, we can begin to add colour and features to our artwork with paints. Acrylic paints work well with a gesso undercoat. We can use the special proper6es of gesso to create another layering technique, oDen called gesso resistance. ADer adding a layer of acrylic paint, whether its one colour or a combina6on, leave the paint to dry slightly, and then spray your work with a light mist of water. Leave the water droplets to sit for a minute or so, then use kitchen towel, or other absorbent paper, to carefully mop up the water drops. This will liD o some of the paint, leaving a lovely moFle eect. Tapping into the resistance proper6es of gesso, you can also paint shapes onto your background, rather than giving it a full undercoat. Once the acrylic paint layer in added, use kitchen towel to bu o some of the colour, allowing the gesso paFerns to show through underneath. This subtle eect is a lovely way to add layering into the background of any mixed media art pain6ng. As with any mixed media art technique or medium, you must play with combina6ons and colours to see what works for you and your style of crea6vity. The more you use gesso as an undercoat and in the resistance technique, the more it will help you understand its unique proper6es. Happy crea6ng!