How to Gesso a Canvas? Easy Guideline for Beginners

If you are a beginner, you have probably heard about gesso, but you don’t have a clear idea of what it is and how to get the most out of it. Here, we’re going to fix that.

A canvas should be gessoed from the beginning. This is the most important skill any aspiring artist should know. If you never got around to learning it, we’ll be helping you how to properly apply gesso and why it is a critical art supply for any canvas.

You can follow the steps below and take your own time to absorb all of the information.

What Is Gesso?

You may have heard of gesso before but you don’t know much about it. It is used to prime your canvas.

It acts as a barrier around your canvas, making it more difficult for it to absorb. This is a good feature, as it can severely damage your work. artwork It will pay off in the long term.

Why Gesso a Canvas?

Many people overlook the benefits of applying Gesso on your canvas. Although some artists can work without Gesso, it is always a good idea to have a protective layer.

Here are some reasons to gesso your canvas.

  • Gesso will protect your paintwork.
  • Your paint will look thicker when you apply it.
  • Gesso gives you a lot more control of your strokes.
  • Gesso makes your canvas appear whiter
  • It’s also quite cheap, and it does not hurt to have it around when you need it.

You don’t have to gesso a canvas if you don’t want to. Some people can live without it, as we’ve said before.

You will be amazed at how easy it is for you to paint on top of a canvas if you Gesso it.

It doesn’t take long to gesso canvas. It’s worth the trade-off at the end of the day.

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Gesso a Canvas – Step by Step Guideline

It’s not like you can print the next Mona Lisa on untreated canvas. You need to gesso your canvas before printing.

It takes very little time to apply gesso to a canvas. It is a great trade-off to create your next masterpiece.

This is how you can gesso your canvas quickly and easily in just a few seconds:

1. What You’ll Need

Luckily for us, you don’t need many materials to gesso your canvas. If you are an artist, chances are you already have all the materials you need.

Here’s what we’ll use for the remainder:

  • Gesso
  • Water
  • Any container you can fill with water
  • Any cloth you don’t mind sacrificing
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush

Have you already gathered all the items? You can now follow the steps below.

2. Protect your Workspace

It would be frustrating to see a huge mess after you have finished with gesso. Cover your workspace to prevent this horrible thought from ever becoming a reality.

Cleaning gesso can be a difficult task and requires a lot of effort. Make sure you adequately cover all areas you are working on.

It is easy to spill gesso on your workspace. Take the time to protect it!

3. Mix It Up

This is the fun part. This is where the fun begins.

Gesso can be quite thick. Before you mix it with water, it is important to make sure it is well mixed. You will most likely end in some strange results.

Now you need to grab your container and fill it with water. Then, add some gesso.

If you want to know how much gesso to use or if there are other things you should do, we recommend that you read the back of the gesso.

These steps should, however, be sufficient for you to complete the task.

4. Mix It Up

Once you have combined the water and gesso you need to stir them together. It is important to give the mixture a good stir to ensure they are well mixed.

It will be ready when it is thicker than ice cream. You can take as long as you need to get the perfect texture.

5. Sand the Canvas

This is done to shape the canvas. To achieve this goal, you will need to sand the surface to remove any imperfections.

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Continue doing this until you achieve a smooth, consistent, and even surface.

6. Get the Paintbrush Wet

Now, you will just need to wet the paintbrush. Make sure to squeeze out excess water, so it doesn’t end up dripping all over your floor.

If you don’t squeeze out the water, it will end up soaking up your gesso, so make sure to get it done.

7. Get rid of the Gesso

Add gesso to the canvas. Grab your paintbrush and start to apply it evenly. Continue this process until you have covered all of the area.

As a general rule of thumb, apply the gel evenly and thinly. A squeegee could be used as well. Some people love to use it for applying gesso.

It’s up to you. They both do the job well and get the job done.

8. Cover the Edges

Don’t forget to give the edges some love too! The sides may start to drip as soon as your first coat is applied. You can prevent this by using a smaller brush.

Apply the coat using a smaller paintbrush. Then, use the excess gesso to re-incorporate the canvas.

9. Wash the Paintbrush

After applying the first coat, thoroughly wash your paintbrush. You can do this by running water on the paintbrush and squeezing out any leftovers with your hands.

Do this immediately after you have completed applying the coat. You risk damaging your paintbrush if the gesso drys up.

10. Let the Canvas Dry

Once you have successfully applied your coat, allow the canvas to dry at least for an hour.

This process can take a while depending on how much you used. It usually takes about an hour.

11. Dust-Off the Grit

After the canvas has dried completely, you can sand the canvas once more to achieve an even surface. You will also need to dust off any frit.

This will allow us to achieve better results when we start to paint our masterpiece on the canvas.

12. Add a Second Layer

You can apply another coat to make your surface smoother. Two coats are enough. If you feel that your surface is not as smooth or even as you would like, you can always add more coats!

13. Let the Canvas Dry

Now, let the canvas dry. However, you will need to let it dry overnight. Now, let the fun begin!

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Frequently Asked Question

These questions were not addressed in the article. You might still have questions? Please leave them below.

Do you need to use canvas gesso?

You don’t have to use it every time that you use your canvas. The extra perks of using gesso for canvas are well-worth the time.

And with gesso, you don’t need to worry about the paint soaking into the canvas.

What can I substitute for gesso on canvas

White acrylic paint is the closest thing to gesso. Although it is thicker that white acrylic paint, the gesso works exactly the same as gesso.

You don’t have to use it every time that you want to use your canvas. It is worth the extra time to use gesso on canvas. This acrylic paint post offers some additional information. tips to dry acrylic paint easily.

Can you add color?

Yes, you are able to paint gesso. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to use it. You will get a tinted glaze if you add color.

How can you thin gesso?

Gesso tends to be thick so adding water is the best way of thinning it. Fill a container with water. Mix in some gesso, and stir it.

Should you sand the canvas?

Sanding your canvas is a way to smoothen the surface. Apply gesso to your canvas after it has dried completely.


The process is simple and relatively straightforward. Although the process is quick, it is recommended that you wait a few hours before you start painting on the canvas.

However, gessoing a canvas is easy to do. You just need to be aware of the drying times. You will need to wait a while before you can start painting on the canvas. That’s the only major drawback of doing this.

Now that you are able to apply gesso correctly, you will be able to see how powerful it can be.

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