Tutorial #14: Priming A Surface

 

Materials

  • sand paper
  • gesso
  • painting surface (paper, canvas, etc.)
  • paint brush
  • water
  • paper towels

Note: I suggest you start by covering the area you'll be working in with newspaper or something disposable. I'll be using the back of a large sketchbook.

Because this process is a bit tedious, I also suggest you prime a bunch of surfaces all at once (I usually do at least a dozen sheets to avoid having to do this again for a while). I find it's easiest to keep track of which coat I'm on by forming a sort of assembly line.

Also, if you're priming paper like me, I highly suggest you leave them to dry flat overnight. Once the last coat of gesso is dry and sanded, I cover the sheets with newspaper or a plastic bag, then place heavy books on top and leave them to dry flat. The gesso naturally curls the edges of the paper, so this extra step is a life saver. 

Step 1

(Stir your gesso and add a bit of water if necessary to ensure it's thin enough to spread evenly) 

Apply an even, thin coat of gesso to your surface. Remove any hairs or paint buggers you find.

Step 2

Allow the gesso to dry to the touch.

Step 3

Use your sand paper to lightly sand down the gesso, removing any ridges or bumps. You can use your hands to check your surface is smooth before moving on.

Step 4

Repeat these steps 2-3 more times and don't forget to sand down the last coat of gesso before you start painting! (unless you actually want a bumpy surface)

*Regardless of what painting surface you're using, ideally you want between 3-4 coats of gesso in total.

 

Related

Oil Painting Basics

Oil Painting Starter Kit

Tutorial #12: Painting A Self-Portrait (Part 1)

Tutorial #13: Painting A Self-Portrait (Part 2)