How to seal and gesso a wooden panel

How to seal and gesso a wooden panel

ARTdiscount artists wooden panels or any other artists wood panels are a versatile and rigid un-sized substrate for the ambitious creative and visual artist! They are a great alternative to our pre-primed canvas or canvases. They are available in 13 sizes and in multi packs. At ARTdiscount our manufacturer is FSC accredited and the timber used in the construction of our panels are sourced from sustainable forests. This lightweight and sturdy pine and plywood panel will not warp due to its excellent design and construction; the 23mm/ 7/8" deep cradle provides stability preventing warping and twisting whilst working with liquid media, oil, acrylic, acrylic pour, gouache, inks, mixed media and wet mediums. 

Our wooden panels come in a huge variety of sizes from A4 through to A1, in both a rectangular or square shape. Our wooden panels do not need framing and can be hung straight onto a wall for a stylish contemporary look.

Preparations before you start using either oil or acrylic paint.

Whilst preparing to oil paint or use acrylic paint there are 4 stages of preparation you must do before you can start. 

  1. Lightly sand your panel, sanding in the direction of the wood grain, with a fine sandpaper then wipe off any dust with a dry micro fibre lint free cloth.

    Lightly sand your panel, sanding in the direction of the wood grain, with a fine sandpaper then wipe off any dust with a dry micro fibre lint free cloth.
  2. Apply a size to all the exposed wood on your panel which will seal the wood, give your panel at least 2 thinly painted coats front, back and sides. Allow drying time between coats. Then lightly sand and dry wipe. Wait till completely dry before you apply the gesso layers.

    Apply a size to all the exposed wood on your panel which will seal the wood, give your panel at least 2 thinly painted coats front, back and sides. Allow drying time between coats. Then lightly sand and dry wipe. Wait till completely dry before you apply the gesso layers.

  3. Protect the cradle sides and back with masking tape if you are not going to apply gesso for painting.

    Protect the cradle sides and back with masking tape if you are not going to apply gesso for painting.
  4. Apply Gesso to all areas that are going to be painted, lightly sand and dry wipe after each coat of gesso. Give the panel at least 3 to 4 coats and allow drying time between coats. Apply 3 to 4 coats especially when using oil paint. Only 2 coats are needed for acrylic paint. When applying gesso, a good tip is to turn your panel around with each layer, move across horizontally with one layer, then wait for it to dry, then work gesso vertically with your next layer and so on.

    Apply Gesso to all areas that are going to be painted, lightly sand and dry wipe after each coat of gesso. Give the panel at least 3 to 4 coats and allow drying time between coats. Apply 3 to 4 coats especially when using oil paint. Only 2 coats are needed for acrylic paint. When applying gesso, a good tip is to turn your panel around with each layer, move across horizontally with one layer, then wait for it to dry, then work gesso vertically with your next layer and so on
Frisk Artists Gesso & Golden GAC 100

Brushes for sealant and gesso

Soft synthetic brushes will not leave too many brush marks. If you want a very smooth surface finish you can use a silicone wedge to smooth out the gesso. However if you require a rough surface texture, you could use a harder bristle brush.

Pro Arte Utility Brushes - Series 23

Why should I seal my wooden panel?

Sealing your wooden panel with a size such as Golden GAC100 is very important before applying the gesso and painting. This seal creates a barrier between your surface and the gesso. This stage is easy and will prevent any disintegration of the wood from the acids in the oil paint or any impurities or pollutants from the wood being drawn up and seeping through and discolouring the paint. This happens especially whilst using Acrylic paint as a painting medium; Support Induced Discolouration or SID, can occur if you do not size your panel first. 

Some painting surfaces such as wooden panels, mdf and unprimed canvas can be very porous or semi-porous, if unsized they would absorb too much of the wet medium. Golden GAC100 if a fluid easy to use straight out of the bottle liquid, similar to a creamy mixture there is no mixing required. It appears white when applied, but dries clear. Once dried it does raise the wooden fibres slightly so sanding between layers is required.

What is a Sealant?

The sealant layer is used to seal and protect the surface, whilst the Gesso layer provides a flexible ground and a key in which to paint onto.

How do I use the sealant?

It is recommended that two layers of sealer is painted onto the back and the front of the panel, allow drying time between layers of sealant and layers of gesso and of course the sides of the cradle if you are going to paint on them too.GOLDEN GAC100 - Multi-Purpose Acrylic Polymer 236ml

What is traditional gesso?

'Glue Gesso' or "Italian Gesso" commonly known as Traditional gesso contains rabbit skin glue, chalk and white pigment. Some artists still use this gesso ground, mainly professional artists. Thankfully we have many synthetic equivalents at our disposal.

What is synthetic/acrylic gesso used for?

Gesso is always applied after sizing your wooden panel if you are going to use Oil or Acrylic paint.

Using a White Gesso will enable the colours to maintain their luminosity for oils and acrylic paint and allow the individual characteristics of the colours to shine, whilst providing a tooth or key in which the paint will adhere too. This means you can use a variety of techniques depending on your own style, thick impasto marks, or thin glazes. Most White Gesso dry to matte finish and are fast drying. For use as a base for oils, at least three coats are recommended. Two for acrylics.

How do I use synthetic/acrylic gesso?

Gesso is available in a white and black, or there is a transparent option, you can also add an acrylic paint colour of your choice to the gesso, to provide a coloured ground. 

Black Gesso primer

A Black Gesso primer has the same characteristics as White Gesso and is applied in the same way. If used as a ground for acrylics one coat is normally sufficient, but up to three coats may be required for oil colour.

Clear Gesso primer

A Clear Gesso primer will allow the substrate surface to show through, very appealing if working on softwood or hardwood artists panels. This will need a minimum of two to three coats.

A light sanding in between Gesso layers will help them to adhere to the substrate and to each other. The top layer can be sanded down for a smooth finish, or left slightly rough for impasto work.Gesso

Recommended Gesso products

Made from high quality acrylic resin with a good level of pigment strength, it can be used straight from the pot and has excellent "tooth" for film adhesion. To reduce absorbency and to boost the integrity of the film, a minimum of two coats is required when working with oils.

This gesso is made from the highest quality acrylic resin. It has a superior level of pigmentation to give maximum covering power, so one coat is usually enough. However we recommend using two coats for unprimed canvases when used with oil colour. It is fast drying and opaque and dries to give an excellent level of tooth and a balanced absorbency. It dries to a non-yellowing, flexible ground suitable for acrylic, oil and alkyd painting. It can be used straight from the pot; dilution is not recommended.

Black Gesso Primer has the same characteristics as White Gesso and is applied in the same way. If used as a ground for acrylics one coat is normally sufficient, but up to three coats may be required for oil colour.

White Gesso Primer Suitable for both interior and exterior applications.

Is a unique formulation which needs no dilution.Highly adhesive, ideal for sealing all semi-absorbent surfaces before applying colour-both acrylics and oils. Suitable for both interior and exterior applications.It dries quickly to produce a white matt surface, with a slight tooth, which can be easily sanded down for highly detailed work.

Liquitex Gesso is a premium acrylic gesso used to prepare painting surfaces for acrylic and oil paint. The gesso helps to provide the perfect "tooth" and adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces such as canvas, paper and wood.

 

As used on Loxley Stretched canvas. Suitable for acrylic, oil & other mediums.

 

 

 

Ellie Jakeman
Ellie Jakeman

I have had a strong interest in the visual and creative arts since a very early age. I completed with great success ‘A’ level Fine Art, Textile and Embroidery City and Guilds, Foundation Diploma in Fine Art, (BA hons) Degree in Embroidery and Textiles from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PGCE from the University of Huddersfield. I have taught Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Textile design and Fine Art print and Illustration for over 20 years. Before teaching I was a freelance artist and illustrator and decided 4 years ago I would return to freelance and commissioned work. I have created many domestic and commercial murals for hospitals and hospices. I work part time for ARTdiscount as a content creator and product tester.


1 Response

 Barry Hilton Pannell
Barry Hilton Pannell

November 23, 2021

Re priming etc. a very useful read. Full of positive and educational content in the preparation of wood panels

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