How To Prime A Canvas For Acrylics Or Oils

Priming your canvas for is really easy to do and shouldn’t take much time at all. When you prime your canvas, you’re making the surface of the canvas ready to accept paint. Priming also protects the canvas against some of the more negative effects of particular types of paints, mainly oils. If you don’t prime your canvas before you start painting, the paint will soak into the canvas.

  1. First of all, you need a bottle of gesso suitable for the type of paint you’re going to be working with. Gesso is a substance similar to white acrylic paint that dries quite hard, leaving the surface of the canvas a bit tougher. You can buy it at any art supplies shop – there are different types available, as with all art supplies, but you should find that student grade gesso works just fine. Art grade gesso is more expensive because it contains more pigment than filler and is generally of a better quality. For beginners, student grade is probably the best option to for.
  1. Before you get started, decide how many layers of gesso you’re going to apply to your canvas. If you apply just one layer, the canvas will have a rougher surface than if you apply two or three layers. You should also decide whether you’re going to dilute your gesso or not; if it’s quite thick, you might want to dilute it with a bit of water and a gloss medium to make it a bit smoother; if you dilute it with just water, it tends to crack once it’s dried.
  1. Shake the gesso bottle thoroughly and start applying the first layer of gesso to the canvas with a wide paintbrush. Use long strokes and work carefully from one edge of the canvas to the other and from the top to the bottom. Make sure you spread the gesso evenly across the canvas’ surface and that there are no lumps or bumps anywhere. Once the gesso has is completely dry, smooth the surface of it down with some sandpaper. For maximum effect, do this after each layer except the final layer. Once you’ve finished your final layer, let your canvas completely dry before you start painting on it.

And that’s it! Once you’ve finished, make sure you wash your paintbrush thoroughly because gesso won’t come out once it’s dried. You can follow these steps to prime practically any surface with gesso.


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