Fun With Black Gesso


This gesso technique is a cool process that I learned from Tracy Lake in a class I went to last January. Tracy is a fun mixed media artist living and teaching in Connecticut. She has really great ideas!

For this piece of art I used another 12″ x 16″ sheet of Cézanne Hot Pressed watercolor paper from Hahnemühle. Those three colors are craft paints from Walmart – nothing expensive. Acrylics work great, too! I used an old hotel room key card, scrunched up plastic wrap, some bubblewrap and a styrofoam ring from the top of a DVD spindle to place color around the page. It probably could have used a bit more texture-y stuff going on but I liked it this way.

I have circles cut out of cardboard – in several different sizes. You can use them over and over. A makeup sponge would work really well to dab some gesso around the outside of the templates. I used a black gesso, with a sponge dabber and just went around the outside of my circle, leaving room to add more in smaller sizes. Placing the largest shapes first means you actually have room to add them. Hahaha!

I used one other size circle and added it the same way. Then I used my dabber to fill in the rest of the background, leaving just the circles themselves with the colors I originally placed. I have some royal blue gesso. I may be using it soon to make a galaxy. Hmmmm.

Last steps – scribble writing, some printemps and dots here and there. Scribble writing is a Carolyn Dube idea. I think. Not really saying anything, you just start with an A and scribble the alphabet. Of course, that did get boring after a bit, so I went with a few words here and there. I can see both in this one! Hahahaha! Making me a little dizzy trying to read this in a circle. Doesn’t take much to make me dizzy. Silly vertigo. Now, onto that galaxy!

Want to try the Hahnemüle Cézanne Hot Pressed watercolor paper? Find it here.
Black gesso, try this one.
Sponge finger dabbers? How about here.
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8 thoughts on “Fun With Black Gesso

  1. That is a really interesting technique. Does the gesso come in a variety of colors, I wonder. Also, how does it feel to write/draw on the gesso, I wonder. Thanks for sharing this very bright, shiny work.

    • it does, I also have clear, white, gold and blue. probably comes in others as well. for me gelly roll pens have worked well, microns not so much . a pen with a thicker nib will work best.

    • Tracy taught us how to do this and I love it! need to find my bottle of blue gesso <3

  2. Love that scribble writing ever since I first saw you use the technique. Agree – you really don’t need texture as well with this design, would have been too much going on, it’s just right as it is. Like the way you’re adding links at the end of your posts, reckon people will really appreciate that.

    • thanks, Evy! I hope people appreciate the links, several have commented on them. I want you to be able to find the products – if you want them. and yes, this scribble writing is just the thing! hahaha! doesn’t even have to make sense 🙂

  3. Love this technique! When I scribble write, I am actually journaling my feelings, but I make sure it can’t be read. That way I get it out of my head and no one read the strange things I was thinking!

    • that’s really a good idea. I probably did some of that with this piece – but it was more thoughts about ‘art’ and what it means to me

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