Traditional Gesso

Sep 2, 2007

I enjoy painting on traditional gesso. It is rabbit skin glue (I know- Yuk!) and marble dust warmed together and layered onto wood to create a panel to paint on. When I go to the trouble to get this done, I make sure I do enough for a long time. The crock pot my sister gave for Christmas was perfect for the warming and rewarming process. I sand the wood, paint on the gesso, let it dry, sand it again – 5 coats is typical. Labor of love. The smooth and absorbent surface cannot be had any other way. Rabbit skin glue is also a terrific way to adhere canvas to a panel of wood. Then gesso tops the canvas to seal it against the oils in the paint. Made a dozen of those too. Now, for the paintings!
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  1. Ebb Tide on September 4, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Haven’t done something like this. Looks like lots of work but fun like frosting a white cake.

  2. Rico on September 4, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    I agree completely. I use oil priming white once I’ve sized with rabbit skin glue. Same process, apply, dry, sand. With typical canvases of 60″ x 56″, it takes weeks to prep a single canvas, but I love it.
    Have you worked with dry pigments as well?

  3. monica on September 5, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing! I am about to start painting again, your website is so inspiring, just like your classes. Enjoy your studio.

  4. Michel McNinch on September 6, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Haven’t tried the dry pigments, but they look like more fun that bunny glue.

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