It's a basic thing. I don't see it as a necessary start to all pages. Becuase it's just not. If you work with a heavier page you don't need it. It's nice, it stiffens the page and adds some texture. You can get gesso in a lot of colors now- black, clear, white various other colors. You can also mix regular white or clear gesso with colored acrylics to get any shade you want, and I'm going to tell you how to mix it with watercolor crayons later in this post.
I'm working in a great notebook my friend Jen made me for a Facebook craft exchange. It's a salvaged hardy boys mystery cover filled with recycled pages. the paper is a variety of weights- I assume around 18# and 20# bond paper, computer paper and the like Its cot some printed stuff on one side. This paper needs the love of gesso to stand up the the abuse I'm going to put it through.
So the first thing I do is get out my gesso. I use liquitex, its not too heavy and isn't too wet. It works for me. I put it on with a rather soft brush so I get a nice thin coat. The brush I'm using is a soft old watercolor wash brush, a cheap one that I've previously abused the hell out of.
thin coat done. Easy. I like to work on a bunch of pages at a time. I hate washing brushes. So I separate my pages with freezer paper or waxed if I have it, sheets of plastic, whatever I have on hand. I look at gesso'd and painted pages at this stage as part of the process, something to gain inspiration from.
Moving onto coloring the gesso. I grab my water color crayons and add a thin layer of crayon on, scribble it, no real pattern.
Here you wet your brush and thin the gesso just slightly, so it will wet the crayon and mix it. Spread it around and add more gesso until you get the color you like and the texture you want.
Coat a page with gesso, while still wet randomly drop a few drops of liquid latex paint (ore regular), just a few drops. And start brushing wildly around the page. Blend it in until you like it. I like to leave the areas of color unmixed. (I'm using making memories liquid acrylic. I snagged it on clearance with a set of sweet foam stamps. BUT it's not a bad liquid acrylic. and on clearance who can beat that price?)
All of these pages were done in about a 45 minute stretch of time. Sometimes I force myself to sit down with my jo
urnal and just color pages. It's relaxing and after a tough day at work, I need to unwind but I'm not in the frame of mine to draw, sketch or journal. Something that doesn't require thought like this, it allows me to meditate on relaxation, listen to some good music and really just enjoy a few moments in my own head with out a worry. Because really, how can I f*ck up gesso? (that's a rhetorical question and I had several art professors who were really neurotic about how gesso is applied.)
Next installment: Paint on a page, sandpaper, and watercolor crayons