What is gesso?
Gesso, pronounced ‘jesso‘, was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so Oil paint would adhere to it.
Gesso is the same as a primer, as in ‘pre-primed canvas’.
It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk and binder.
Traditional Oil ‘glue gesso’ was made with an animal glue binder, usually rabbit-skin glue, chalk, and white pigment, usually Titanium white.
Gesso is usually white or off-white and is used after you have sealed the raw canvas with a coat of size (see: the Trouble with Oil)
It creates a surface that is both absorbent (particularly useful for ‘dead’ colouring with oils) and has a ‘tooth’ (texture) that allows paint to grab onto the surface…