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Can You Use Gesso as White Paint?

Gesso is usually used as a primer for canvas paintings, as well as wooden, metal and even plastic surfaces. You lay on a coat of two or gesso and your paint will stick to the canvas easier. Since gesso is extremely similar to white acrylic paint, you might be wondering if you can use it in place of white paint.

So, can you use gesso as white paint? Yes! It’s possible to use gesso as white paint. Since gesso is similar to white acrylic, just thinner, it can be used the same. To get a thicker, more opaque gesso, it is recommended that you buy artist grade gesso.

The consistency of gesso will vary based on the brand. Some will be more runny while others are thicker, like artist grade. Using gesso can positively impact how paint absorbs and appears on your canvas. It can also be beneficial to lighten colors. In this article we go over everything you need to know on using gesso as white paint, and much more. Let’s read on!

Is Gesso White Paint?

Gesso is not the same thing as white paint, even though it can be used in place of it. There are two different variations of gesso. The first is called half-chalk ground and is used when priming canvas that is flexible. This type is a mix of gesso and linseed oil.

My favorite and top pick is always Mont Marte Gesso. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Mont Marte for all my gesso projects.

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The second variation of gesso is the acrylic gesso. This type will be made with white pigment, a filler, and acrylic resin in water. The filler is usually silica or chalk. It might also have calcium carbonate to make it more absorbent and titanium dioxide to work as a whitening agent. 

When gesso dries, it has a flat and rough surface. This is different to how white paint dries, as it has more of a glossy finish. If you want a glossy finish, you are better off using actual white paint instead of acrylic gesso.

The most common color gesso you will see is white or off-white, but it is also available in other colors. You can find clear and black gesso, and you might even come across colored gesso.

Is Gesso the Same as Liquid White?

If you have ever heard of Bob Ross, you’ve likely heard of liquid white. On his TV program, he explains how he uses liquid white with his paintings. Bob Ross always uses a thick coat of liquid white before any painting. If you’ve ever wondered how Bob Ross gets his paintings blending flawlessly, this is how.

I have personally sued this Bob Ross Liquid White Paint, and it was amazing! It really did help with blending, and my painting turned out great.

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It is a very common misconception that liquid white and gesso are the same thing. It is easy to see where this misconception comes from. Both materials are white and used as primers on a canvas. However, they serve to completely different purposes and are used completely differently.

Liquid white and gesso are not the same thing. Liquid white is oil-based and only used for the technique of wet-on-wet painting. Before painting, you cover the canvas with a base of liquid white and paint over it before it dries. The consistency is creamy and allows paint to be layered on top of it with smooth, even strokes.

Gesso is acrylic-based and is also used to prime a canvas before painting, but it has to be completely dry before you can paint on it. Gesso will add texture to your painting and make sure that the paints don’t absorb too much into the canvas. 

Liquid white, also called magic white, is linseed oil and white pigment that is mixed together until it reaches a creamy consistency. Some artists also refer to it as fluid white because of how runny the paint is. People love liquid white because it makes blending colors together a breeze.

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If you are wondering whether you can use gesso in place of liquid white, the answer is no. Gesso has to be dry before you can start painting on it. It doesn’t have the same characteristics as liquid white, meaning the two materials aren’t interchangeable.

Liquid white can be difficult to find depending on where you live. If you can’t find liquid white, you shouldn’t use gesso. You can always make your own liquid white with some oil paint and linseed oil.

The main reason you can’t use gesso as liquid white is because it isn’t oil based. Since liquid white is oil-based, you can’t make it with gesso, which is acrylic-based. Oil and acrylic don’t mix, so you won’t be able to get it to reach the consistency of liquid white.

Can I Mix Gesso with Acrylic Paint?

As long as you are using acrylic gesso, you can mix it with acrylic paint. Adding white gesso instead of white acrylic can make your colors lighter and a little thinner. Most acrylic paint dries glossy, but gesso dries more matte.

When you mix gesso with acrylic paint, you will end up with either a matte or sating finish. This will depend on the ratio of gesso to paint, so you can control the outcome. You can add any color acrylic paint to white gesso to tint it.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Acrylic Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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In addition to white, gesso also comes in clear, black, and even color. Any of these can be mixed with acrylic paint to change the texture and appearance of the paint. The appearance will also depend on the type of gesso you have.

There is student grade gesso and artist grade gesso. The main difference between the two is the pigment and filler that are in them. Student grade gesso is usually less expensive than artist grade due to the fact that it has more fillers. 

Artist grade gesso has more pigment, so it will be thicker and more opaque than student grade. The student grade is only available in white, while the artist grade is available in other colors. Whether the gesso is artist or student grade, you can mix it with acrylic paint to give it a colored pigment.

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If you want to mix gesso with paint, you will need to put some of the gesso on a separate plate or palette. Slowly add in the paint until you reach your desired color. When it is ready, you can start painting with the mixture.

Final Thoughts

White gesso is typically used to prime canvas before you paint with acrylic paints on it. It has a similar consistency to acrylic paint, just a little thinner. This means that gesso paint can be used as white paint. Even though this is possible, it is important to remember that the two materials are not the same thing. 

Gesso is often confused with liquid white, but they are not the same. Liquid white is used on a canvas as a wet base for painting. Gesso needs to be completely dry before you start painting, so it doesn’t make blending easier like liquid white.

If you want to tint your gesso or use it to make one of your acrylic paints lighter, you can do so. Gesso is acrylic based, so it mixes with acrylic paints like a dream. The finish of the paint will depend on the mixture. If you add more gesso, the paint will have a matte finish. If you add less gesso, you can have a satin finish.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your gesso project turns out great. Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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