January 29, 2010

Have you ever tried to dye your own gesso?

This week I received a portrait on gesso that my friend Rhonda painted for me, so she's guilty of having me wanting to paint something on gesso again. And since I want to use gouache for this I've decided to use colored gesso instead of plain white and maybe use it as part of the painting, I'm blaming Carla O'Connor for that.

The fact is that I only have white gesso so I did some research and found a web where someone said that he had tinted his own gesso successfully with watercolor, gouache and acrylic paints, that's more than enough to encourage me to try, so since this is the first time I try to dye my own gesso I'll share the process, and some questions that have come with it so if any of you have ever tried something like this I'd love to hear any insight you can share.

So my first step was diluting the gesso a bit, enough for it to run nicely, produce few texture from the brush strokes and provide thin coats that dry fast and without cracks. Then the color, I was planning on a green color and the paint of choice is acrylic since I'd be needing quite a bit and didn't waste that much watercolor or gouache, so Jenkins Green it is since it's my only acrylic green, pretty ugly color, I know, plus somehow I didn't think about the fact that it was a mixture with a lot of white, the resulting color wasn't what I wanted so I added some yellow too (probably should have used a blue and a yellow from the beginning but I often got carried away when I try new things and instead trying something new in a controlled way I use to keep adding "new" stuff to try to the process, too many variables if you wish).

Step 6 is the result of mixing the gesso with Jenkins Green and right before mixing the Hansa Yellow Medium, the amount of green mixed in was the same as the yellow you can see in this photo, that makes a mixture of 50% gesso 50% acrylic paint more or less, this proportion worried me a bit and is my first doubt: isn't it too much paint? I use to apply 3 coats of gesso on each side of the board/paper so maybe it's a better option to add a first coat of plain gesso and then the tinted ones over it? or maybe it's not an issue at all and there's not a problem to have so much paint in the gesso mixture?

Before applying the gesso to the board I diluted it a bit more because the added paint had thickened it.

Once the gesso was ready I started to add it to the board, a foam brush is the perfect tool for this, it's completely inexpensive, easy to clean and gives enough texture but not too much so there's no need to sand the surface at all unless you're going for something extremely smooth, I like a bit of texture so no sanding needed here. Another good thing about thinning the gesso is that the drying time is almost non existent, when you finish applying the coat the starting point is almost ready to begin the second one, and if not a couple of minutes will be more than enough. I wonder how many of these thin layers would be needed if I wanted to sand the surface.

Ok, the last step shows the finished look after 3 layers of greened gesso and a zoom that hopefully shows the final texture of the surface. BTW I had to finish yesterday morning since I run out of mixture before finishing the 3 coats, so the total amount of gesso and paint used is a bit more than the one you see in the photos.


RHCarpenter said...

Well, I like the color, Teresa...and am looking forward to seeing what you do with this green gessoed bg :)

Teresa said...

Hee! Being green I thought you'd be leading the frowning faces lol. Let's see what happens, it might end completely covered by paint in the end :P you know painting on gesso is not my strongest point.

Belona said...

Hala, que chulada :D!
Te voy a parecer una burra total, pero ni se me había pasado por la cabeza esto de teñir el gesso. Desde luego el resultado no se puede discutir,para crear la atmósfera de la ilustración viene genial y además es mucho más económico que rellenar el fondo con óleos o acrílicos...
Vamos, que contigo he descubierto el fuego XD si es que de pintar todavía me queda un trecho que aprender. Gracias por estos consejillos.
Un blog magnífico y unos trabajos preciosos los tuyos, Teresa ;) para mi lista de favoritos que vas.
Un besote!

PD; perdona que haya borrado el comentario anterior, no sé porque pero me ha salido lleno de cuadraditos :P

Teresa said...

Si te digo la verdad no se si lo he hecho bien :P es la primera vez que pruebo a teñir el gesso, pero por intentarlo que no quede ¿no?.
Bienvenida a mi cueva, es un placer y un honor tenerte por aquí, soy tu fan incondicional desde la primera vez que vi una de tus ilustraciones :)

Deb Léger said...

Nice work, Teresa! I love reading your thoughts as you do this. Like Rhonda, I can't wait to see what you do with this.

Teresa said...

I wonder what I'll do with these too... no idea so far! lol