Watercolor on Gesso

Did you know you can paint with watercolor on gesso? I learned something new this week in my online class with Junelle Jacobsen. She spread gesso on old book pages for some of the projects she has showed us. I have used gesso many times for multi-media projects, but I din’t know you could paint with watercolor on it. What a great thing! I love the texture and look of the book print under the gesso with a watercolor sketch over it. I was surprised the pages dried flat after brushing the gesso on them. I suggest you spread gesso on a bunch of old book pages. That way you have plenty to create with. I used a sponge brush to apply the gesso. Make sure you do it thick enough for a good base to paint on, but thin enough for some of the book print to show through. I did a variety of  book pages that were different sizes and colors. Gesso on old book pages for watercolor journal art-myflowerjournal

After the gesso is completely dry I lightly draw my sketch with pencil. Then I go over the pencil with a waterproof pen. I like the black sharpie pens, not to be confused with sharpie markers. Next I carefully erase the pencil if it shows. You can’t erase very hard or you will damage your gesso surface. Watercolor as you usually would. When its dry I usually add a few more pen details and some splattered paint in watercolor or acrylic. Splattered acrylic paint is much heavier and gives the look of a grassy field. Splattered watercolor is just little specks and dries quite light unless you use a lot of pigment mixed with the water.

Here’s a watercolor I painted on gesso spread on old book pages.

Pumpkin journal page before the splattered paint….

Watercolor pumpkins painted on an old book page covered with gesso-myflowerjournal.com

I splattered dark green and brown acrylic paint first, then a variety of  lighter greens followed by orange, yellow and white.

Pumpkins painted in watercolor on gesso on old book pages and splattered with acrylic paint-myflowerjournal

Watercolor pumpkins in a field of splattered acrylic paint.

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I’ll be sharing Watercolor on Gesso on :  Tweak It Tuesday,  Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday,  Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits, Be Inspired Friday,  Show and Tell FridayInspiration Gallery, Feathered Nest Friday, Art Journal Every Day, Paint Party Friday

35 Responses to Watercolor on Gesso

  1. I really love this idea, and your “sketches” are beautiful. I especially like the effect you created with splatter on the pumpkin page!

  2. Can’t wait to try this on the book pages. We used gesso on canvas paper in watercolor class and I LOVED working with it! You can “erase” a mistake with water anytime. I did that after it sat for a month.

  3. What a wonderful gift you have to create such pretty painting. I have wanted to try gesso on furniture. I think it makes a great texture on everything it touches.

  4. Hi Tammy,

    All your watercolours are pretty, but that last one with the added splattered effect is my favourite! Such movement of the grasses in that field! Wonderful!


  5. Gorgeous tutorial…love the pumpkins and the flowers! Have you ever tried black gesso?
    …you might like that too! I have used gesso on wood items and pretty much anything I want to cover up…but letting the lettering shine through is a fabulous idea!

    Hugs Giggles

  6. I’ve only ever played around a little with watercolor on gesso, but it certainly didn’t come out as beautifully as yours! I think I also need to find a smoother gesso, mine is quite rough! Happy PPF!

  7. I really enjoy reading your blogs and looking at your beautiful creations. Fabulous and inspirational.

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