How to make your own gesso for oil painting

Nothing is better for creating a smooth, flexible finish on canvas than gesso. It acts as a primer before the start of painting on any surface. A surface primed with gesso allows more control of the placement and adds texture to the final work. If you don’t have a market gesso, don’t worry! This blog post aims to provide important information about how to make your own gesso for oil painting.

Artists have used gesso to achieve luminosity and smoothness in oil paintings since around 1500 BC. The world’s most famous artists have always relied on gesso for its ease, quick drying, and the ability to allow the artists to layer depth in paintings.

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Ingredients of gesso

To make a gesso the same as a real one, you must have a look at the main ingredients. We will also use these ingredients to create our own gesso. Normally it is made out of the following ingredients

  • Synthetic resin
  • Calcium carbonate
  • White pigment

Synthetic resin is also known as the glue which we generally use in binding books or pages. Calcium carbonate is available in so many forms like chalk, powder, etc. White pigment is a chemical compound that is used to create the white color of paint when mixed with oil and other pigments.

Making gesso at home

There are various methods of making your own gesso at home. I will enlist two of the easiest and less costly methods. I have preferred these methods to create easiness for you to choose only those ingredients which are easily available for you.

Talc is a natural mineral powder that’s often used as a baby powder. It contains a large amount of calcium carbonate which can be used for making gesso. For this technique, you need the following things

  • Talc powder (baby powder)
  • Glue
  • White pigment (small jar)
  • 2 bowls
  • pellet knife for mixing


Take a bowl and put some powder in it. Add powder according to the desired amount of gesso. For this purpose, you can use baby powder which can be easily at home or the market.

Take another bowl and put glue in it. Now, mix the powder in glue by using a pellet knife. Make sure to proportionate the mixture with a ratio of 50% glue, 30% powder, and 20% white pigment or paint. If you have any weight measuring instrument, use it for an accurate value.

Mix the solution very well and last add 20% white paint. If the consistency seems to be so much then you can add a small amount of water as well to give a good consistency like a gesso in the market.

This method is extremely beneficial because it is cost-efficient. You will get the same results as a general gesso available in the market.

2. Making gesso with Plaster of Paris (POP)

Plaster of Paris is a synthetic hydrated calcium sulfate used in imitation of gypsum (drywall), cement, or lime as a building material. It also contains a major ingredient of gesso which can be used to make our own gesso. This technique is the same as the first one but there is a use of POP as calcium carbonate.

For this technique, you need the following ingredients

  • Plaster of Peris
  • Glue
  • White paint
  • Bowl
  • Pellet knife


The procedure is the same as the first one. If you are going to make 100g of gesso, take 50g of glue in a separate bowl and add 30g of POP and 20g of white paint. Some artists add all the ingredients in equal proportion but my suggested one is best.

Benefits of homemade gesso

  • You can add any paint pigment in gesso with a substitute of white paint to get the needed color of homemade gesso.
  • All the ingredients used in homemade gesso are easily available at the market or at home.
  • It takes less than 5 minutes to create your own gesso.
  • It works the same as the original gesso available in the market.
  • This is a cost-effective way of creating your own gesso.

Are there any drawbacks of homemade gesso?

The only drawback you will face in self-made gesso is that we didn’t use any kind of preservative for the shelf life of our gesso. Store-bought gesso can be used for a long time until the jar gets fully empty.

But after all, it is way better than buying a gesso from the store because you don’t have to sacrifice ease, comfort, money, and time to buy a gesso from the store or online.


Can I make a gesso of any desired color?

Yes, you can make any color’s gesso. Just add that desired paint to the recipe with a substitute of white paint.

In which utensil I can store my homemade gesso?

You can store it in a jar closed with a lid or water bottle or even a tube.


Gesso is not just a primer but is also a protector, fast drier, pigment, and as well as repairer. If you purchase a gesso from the market, it could cost you so much. If you order it online, you have to wait for a lot of days. Give 5 minutes and get a gesso at home with chalk or baby powder.

If you have any questions regarding oil painting, you may ask us.

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