Best Gesso For Painting With Oils, Acrylics, And More

Michael Daly
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Are you looking for a high quality casein gesso that is capable of giving you the best results when painting with oils, acrylics, watercolor and so on?

This is not easy.

Gesso is usually derived from any animal source and if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you may want to look for something that hasn’t been derived from animal fat.

Over the years, many materials have been used to make gesso. These include traditional hide glue, animal glue, egg whites, and casein.

If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly gesso, you’ll have to look harder.

Luckily, we found some great vegan-friendly gessos for you. In this review, you’ll discover the best cruelty-free gessos on the market and learn what makes them unique.

NameCategoryProduct
Liquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep MediumBest OverallLiquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium
Art Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic GessoBudget PickArt Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic Gesso
Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso PrimerUpgrade PickWinsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso Primer

1. Liquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium

Our rating: 9 / 10

Liquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium

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Pros:

  • Enables the good application of paint
  • Lightweight, non-toxic
  • Dries to a water-resistant, non-yellowing surface
  • Flexible, non-cracking
  • Essential for use as a primer
  • Conforms to ASTM D4236

Cons:

  • Runny, thin, and covers poorly
  • Creates a milky cast

Will you be painting a large canvas? Is a bigger space in need of some custom artwork? If so, it’s essential to choose the best smooth gesso for your painting needs. The Liquitex G5316 will have you covered, leaving your art canvas an ideal surface for applying paint.
This is an essential surface primer that’s perfect for artists. It’s a high-quality gesso that’s clear in color and dries to a smooth finish. Liquitex is a trusted brand that’s been in business for years.

2. Grumbacher Gesso

Our rating: 9 / 10

Grumbacher Gesso

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Pros:

  • It can be applied to multiple porous surfaces, such as canvas, wood, cardboard, plaster, and concrete
  • Suitable to use before oil and acrylic painting
  • It can be tinted with acrylic color

Cons:

  • Not appropriate for egg tempera or gilding
  • Not much opaque
  • Some users also reported that surfaces coated with this gesso could appear slightly textured.

If you're in search of a great white gesso to use on a variety of surfaces, then this may be your best option. The Grumbacher Gesso provides an excellent basis for a polished finish and can cover any imperfections on a canvas. You can also use it if you're looking to build up a canvas or other surfaces for oil painting.
We love that this Grumbacher Gesso is made from high-quality acrylics that offer superior durability. Some users have reported it to be brown, but the actual color is white.

3. Handy Art® 440-003 Medium Student Acrylic Paint

Our rating: 9 / 10

Handy Art® 440-003 Medium Student Acrylic Paint

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Pros:

  • Economical
  • Dries to a flexible matte finish
  • Clean up with soap and water
  • Certified AP Non-Toxic
  • Can be used to clean brushes

Cons:

  • Some users complain this is a runny, translucent gesso
  • Harmful to breathe
  • Takes a long to dry

If you’re a beginner painter, you’ll need quality paint to obtain a smooth and professional finish to your artwork. You’ll want a gesso that dries quickly and is affordable. The Handy Art® 440-003 Medium Student Acrylic Paint Gesso White may be the perfect match for you.
Handy Art Acrylic White Gesso/Medium is an excellent quality primer that dries to a flexible matte finish. Apply as an undercoating or primer to the surface before painting to improve adherence.

4. Golden Acrylic Gesso

Our rating: 8 / 10

Golden Acrylic Gesso

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Pros:

  • Easy to apply
  • Dries quickly
  • Good coverage
  • Remains flexible when dry
  • Non-yellowing
  • Doesn’t crack
  • Works well with oil, acrylic, and pastel paintings

Cons:

  • Easy to over-apply and get globby
  • Takes a long time to dry compared with some other primers

Golden’s gesso is a good eco product and has no smell to it. It is strong and non-yellowing. It’s easy to use, and it isn’t costly. It is used for priming canvases and can also be used for glazing.
The gesso is suitable for blending for it is easy to mix and match with other colors.

5. Art Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic Gesso

Our rating: 8 / 10

Art Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic Gesso

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Pros:

  • Acrylic white gesso
  • Non-Yellowing
  • Accepts oil, acrylic, pastels, charcoal, pencil, and crayons
  • No thinning needed
  • Cleans up with soap and water

Cons:

  • Doesn't add texture to the paint
  • Smells bad

The Art Advantage Gesso is a quality product that’s made to suit any artist. Despite the low price point, it’s a product that will deliver results for years.
The gesso works well with oil, acrylic, watercolor, and more. Works well for indoor or outdoor use. The product is 100% acrylic, and it comes in a water-based form.

6. Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso Primer

Our rating: 8 / 10

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso Primer

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Pros:

  • Works well
  • Easy to apply
  • Leaves a non-yellowing surface
  • Decent price point
  • Reduce absorbency

Cons:

  • A little glossy finish instead of matt finish
  • A bit watery

Many artists use gesso as a way to prime their canvas. This Winsor and Newton gesso primer has a capacity of 1-liter (33.8 ounces), which is excellent for doing larger paintings. While it does leave a white, non-yellowing surface, it may take some additional priming to ensure that you don’t end up with white primer peeping through your paint.
It works well and is easy to apply, so if you’re looking to get into painting, it’s a fantastic product to start with.

7. Handy Art Designer's Palette Artist Acrylic 32 ounce

Our rating: 8 / 10

Handy Art Designer's Palette Artist Acrylic 32 ounce

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Pros:

  • Thick and highly-pigmented
  • Protects painted or varnished surfaces
  • Viscous enough to cover evenly
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Won’t crack over time
  • Dries quickly
  • Certified AP Non-Toxic

Cons:

  • Very thick
  • Grainy consistency

Gesso is a simple paint product that is widely available at many art supply stores. There are various types of gesso, but for this review, we will talk about Handy Art Designer's Palette Artist Acrylic. The main reason we like this is that it’s a watercolor artist’s dream come true.

Although the name makes it sounds like it’s only for acrylic paints, you can use this gesso for any surface, such as canvas or paper. It’s effortless to clean with a cleaner for an artist's products. Those who have worked with gesso have said that this brand is more viscous than others.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best gesso for oil painting?

Gesso is a primer that is applied to a surface before painting. Applying gesso to your canvas will give your paint a better ground to stick to, and it will also make for easier painting in the future with different colors. Gesso is typically used for oil paintings, but you can also use acrylic gesso on surfaces like canvas, wood, and primed canvas boards.

Gesso is generally white in color. Since it’s a primer, you don’t want to use an off-white or colored gesso because it will affect the color base of your paintings.

You should choose the color of gesso based on which type of painting you’re going to be doing. For example, acrylic gesso is typically tinted white or off-white, while oil painting gesso is usually pure white.

Is acrylic gesso good for oil painting?

While watercolor paints are slightly translucent, oil paints are opaque. Acrylic gesso may be considered as an alternative or a complement to oil paints because both types of paint are thicker than watercolors and can be applied easily to a surface.

As an artist, you should apply acrylic gesso to your canvas. Oils can take a long time to dry and for this reason, it is not advised to use oils on canvas prior to using acrylic gesso.

Can you cover oil paint with gesso?

Yes! Gesso will act as a great primer, especially if you paint with oil because it will disperse the oil paints much better than you would be able to do by hand.

This isn’t limited to just oil paints either. Acrylic paints, gouache, and watercolor paint all benefit from the addition of gesso depending on your mixture.

Gesso will also act as a surface for any type of paint because it is intended to work as the first layer to develop a canvas or any sort of such surface.

If you’re using oils, acrylics, gouache, and watercolor together, though, you will want to thin the paint down before using it.

What kind of paint do you use on gesso?

Used correctly, gesso can be the base for any style of painting. As a result, the type of paint you choose for your gesso is a matter of style and experience, rather than a matter of paint type.

That being said, there are paint types which work better on a gesso than others.

For beginners and students, oil-based paints show the best results when applied over gesso. They are also the easiest to control and manipulate.

While many professional artists do use oil-based paints over gesso, acrylic paints offer a lot of benefits. First, they’re easy to clean up. Second, glazing paints, such as watercolor glazes can be applied over acrylic base.

Conclusion

We have provided you a comparison of the leading brands and discuss the differences and prices of gesso available on the market. This review will help you choose the best gesso suitable for your next painting project.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Liquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep MediumBest OverallLiquitex G5316 Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium
Art Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic GessoBudget PickArt Advantage 8-Ounce Acrylic Gesso
Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso PrimerUpgrade PickWinsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic White Gesso Primer