Thursday, 17 January 2013

Painting with gesso...

I first used gesso around 15 years ago to try and restore an old frame. It was something I had to mix from rabbit skin glue and chalk if I remember rightly. The frame turned out quite rubbish anyhow and I never went down that road again!

More recently I have stumbled accross the wonderful work of Rosemary at Villabarnes and been intrigued to see that she paints with gesso, which is now thankfully readymade and acrylic. (Perhaps it was back then but I was shopping in the wrong place!)

Rosemarys work

Rosemarys work


It seems to work well on heavily textured or carved items. She doesn't just use it on frames though. She used it on this bedside table...

Rosemarys work


And even on fabric flowers!

Rosemarys work
Isn't that beautiful?
I was so taken with this look that I had to have a go.
On my wall I had this old picture...



  I pulled it all apart and painted the frame with grey emulsion...


Then I painted it in white acrylic gesso (it also comes in grey and black.)

 
£3.99 from the art shop

I was painting it on and wiping it off so it settles in the dips but wipes off the high bits. I did 3 coats. This was too much! It just looked very white when it dried. I took a sanding sponge to it and it wasn't easy to sand back but I got a bit of the original colour and the gold showing through. I thought I'd ruined it to be honest so I didn't get a picture of this stage. The whiteness was annoying me! I missed the original finish so I thought I'd stipple on dark wax to bring back some depth.

The whole thing came back to life and I love it!







What do you think? I know mine turned out nothing like Rosemarys! I like it, but I liked it before too. I'm going to play around some more with gesso! Next time I'll have to paint it on something I'm not so keen on.

If you pop over to Villabarnes there are lots of tutorials with gesso and you can see Rosemarys lovely work.

Next up for the gesso treatment?


This vintage brass mirror my husband dropped. Good job we're not superstitious! His only bad luck is that he has to replace the glass for me! 

Big thank you to Rosemary for allowing me to use her photos! 

12 comments:

  1. Interesting effects with the gesso and to hear of how you used it. Love the mirror, and looking forward to seeing the final result.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  2. The effect it creates on that fabric rose is stunning and your picture frame looks pretty good to, love the finished effect with the old coming through. Your broken mirror is dying to get the gesso treatment too.

    I have never used Gesso this way before as I use it to prep my canvases / sketchbooks for painting.

    Make sure you show us the mirror xx

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    1. I love that rose too! I will certainly show you the mirror! x

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  3. It looks wonderful! I may well have to give this a go :)

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  4. The frame looks lovely.

    I'm a fan of Rosemary's work too; she has a distinctive style that works really well on the items she transforms.

    Jackie

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  5. I have gesso in stock for canvases - but have been using white emulsion for them! Gesso feels like home made chalk paint mixed with PVA to me. Some inspiring ideas you've given me.
    PS I would love to have your hair ♥

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  6. Thank you so much for your kind words, Emma Kate. I'm always honored to be viewed as an inspiration. I absolutely love your frame. You did a wonderful job.

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    1. Your work is amazing and VERY inspirational Rosemary!

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  7. Your frame looks fantastic! Dark wax was a great idea. I've never used gesso but would like to try - how many coats do you think you'll put on next time? Look forward to seeing the mirror x

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    1. Only two. I think it gets more opaque as it dries fully and I was too impatient to wait for it to dry fully between coats.

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  8. I want to paint some old furniture. Do you have to sand before using gesso. Some sights say no while others sand anyway? What is your opinion?

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    1. I would say it would depend on the finish you have. If your furniture is super glossy, then a little sanding to help the gesso adhere, would be a good thing. I used it on this frame over emulsion paint (latex) and it stuck fine. I also used it on brass and it stuck fine too. It seems to have impressive adhesion qualities. I hope this helps.

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