Why Can You Paint Oils on Latex Gesso?

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Oil paints can be painted on top of gesso because gesso is made with a binder that allows any medium to be painted on top of it, and it is used as a ground for pencil, pastels, acrylic paint and oil paint. Understand the chemistry behind oil paint and gesso with information from an experienced artist in this free video on painting.

Part of the Video Series: Oil & Acrylic Painting Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Koorosh Angali with Angali.com. I'm sometimes asked why we can use oil paint on latex Gesso. The question is not correct. The question, itself, is not correct, because there's no such thing as latex Gesso. It's Liquitex Gesso, and Liquitex is one of the many companies which create Gesso. But, the proper question would be why we can paint oil on Gesso, Liquitex or otherwise. The answer is because Gesso practically has the same properties that the traditional ground used to have, the traditional whiting, the so-called whiting, used to have. That means a binder and some sort of whiting as in gypsum, or in the old days there was lead and zinc and so-forth that now are illegal to use because they have poisonous properties. But basically Gesso is not that different from the traditional whiting. The only difference between Gesso and others is that it also has a binder in it which is a chemically manufactured binder rather than the old, traditional, natural binders used from natural substances. That's the only difference. Why do you use the Gesso on any ground, on canvas, on panel, or anything? When it's dried, you can add practically anything on top of it. You can use a pencil, a lead pencil. You can use oil, acrylic, even watercolor. You can use anything on top of it. If the watercolor is a little resistant or it resists to adhere to the top of the Gesso, you just spray it with a workable fixative and that's it, you can even paint with watercolor on top of Gesso. Gesso is probably the twentieth century and twenty-first century ground for any medium that you want to use to paint.

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