Monday, August 3, 2015

Gesso Vs. Matte Gel Medium - What the heck do they do? A tutorial. + A WINNER

Earlier today on my Facebook page, the oh-so-snarky, oh-so-talented Chris D. of Chrispy's Creations asked me this question: "What's the difference between gesso and gel medium?" Well, Miss Chris, thanks for the inspiration! You made me get artsy and create another mixed media canvas. And this time I have a tutorial!

Gesso Vs. Matte Gel Medium:
Now, please bear in mind that I am a fledgling mixed media artist and learning and exploring. So I'm probably doing everything wrong. hehe. But I'll tell you what I use these things for.

What Is Gesso?

Gesso is a medium that most artists use to prime a canvas. It allows your paint/gelatos/next layer to spread easier and not just soak straight into the canvas so you don't spend umpteen million dollars on paint. They sell gesso in a variety of colors, but most commonly in black and white. 

Gesso can also be used to:
>Prime objects that you want to change color with another medium (like paint, gelatos, etc)
>Use through a stencil to create a pattern
>Stamp with

What Is Gel Medium?

Gel Medium is a substance that can be used for a variety of different things including:
>Sealing a layer on a canvas/art journal
>Gluing objects on a piece - much like mod podge
>Using through a stencil to do a resist technique


The canvas that I'm working on is a Tim Holtz Ranger 6x8 burlap canvas. I applied one layer of gesso because I wanted the texture to still come through the finished project. If you want a smoother surface, you can add more layers of gesso. 

After the gesso was dry, I rubbed on some gelatos and blended them with my finger. Then, using a palette knife, I added a layer of matte gel medium (you can get glossy too). 

Why did I add this layer of gel medium? I knew that I wanted to add white texture paste over the gelatos and since they are reactive to water/liquid, if you don't add the gel medium between layers your texture paste will soak up the color from the gelatos and blend into it. 

So I wanted to break up the color of the background and decided to do that by adding some old music notes that a very special bloggy friend sent me (THANKS BETTY!!!)

Remember when I said you could use gel medium like glue? Here's an example. I painted the back of the music stuck it to the canvas, and then painted over the front of the music, which sealed it to the canvas., Then I added a layer of embossing paste through the ARTplorations Tribal Triangles stencil. See? It stayed white! Thanks to the gel medium. 

I added another layer with the ARTplorations Confetti Circles stencil and then sprinkled it with blue embossing powder while it was still wet then I set it with heat. It turned out beautifully!!! All puffy and grungy and cracked. 

I had these chippies, but I didn't want them to stay the color they were. So I added a layer of gesso to prime them and then used bright orange gelatos to recolor. 

Voila! A finished canvas! And one I'm very pleased with. Thanks Chris!

I'm going to enter this into the following challenges:
Mixed Media World - Stencils
Altered Eclectics - Anything Goes
STAMPlorations Mixed Media Challenge - Anything Goes Mixed Media

Speaking of things I'm pleased with - I still have another 5 names to draw in my birthday bash giveway.

Today's lucky winner is going to receive The Bee's Knees PartyGirl stamp set. 


Entry number 36 is Gail from The Crafty Nomad! Congrats, Gail! Please email me with you address and I will pop your prize in the mail for you. :) 


  1. Its a canvas to be pleased with Becca ! I loved it and tanks for the gesso n gel medium info :)

  2. Thanks for the tutorial, hun! Your canvas looks brilliant, Jo x

  3. Thanks for the tutorial Becca, and that canvas is a stunner!

  4. Another fabulous canvas, Becca!!!! You are really talented girl!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this tutorial - as someone who basically knows nothing about art, I have really learned a lot!!! Think I have to give something like this a try - thanks for the inspiration!!!
    Have a great day!!!!

  5. Thank you for the tutorial. So many products can get confusing. I am confident with gesso and its uses, wasn't so sure on the gel medium. Fab canvas

  6. Ooh, love the puffy grungy sparkly embossing powder technique. Another one to try. Happy dancing from the lucky winner LOL. Thanks so much Becca. Emailing now. Hugz

  7. Great canvas. Nice simple, succinct explanation of the mediums.....LOVE the hessian for the texture....& the finished canvas is eye poppingly gorgeous AND its' nice to see Gail win the stamp set!!!

  8. Lovely canvas Becca. Thank you for this don't appear to be a fledgling at all.

  9. Thank you Becca! I have used gesso and know that it helps to provide a great surface for paints, inks and stamps etc., and I have used gel mediums to attach papers and other bits to my off the page projects. When I have used texture paste it has always tinted and I assumed that was because I didn't allow the ink or paint to dry enough. Now I know I need to add the gel mediums to lock in the paint/ink! Like you this is a newish journey for me and am learning what works and what doesn't but not always sure why.
    Loved your tutorial and as others have said you are very talented and your work doesn't look like a beginner's: you have a natural talent for this Karen xx

  10. Another beautiful canvas piece of art - just lovely, Becca!
    Congrats, Gail. :-)

  11. Thanks so much for this tutorial. While I'm much too chicken to give either of these techniques a go, I do like to learn about how artists work. And your canvass is incredible; I'm in awe of your talent. Well done you!! Bev

  12. Great tips on these projects Becca, I don't have any Matte Gel but I think I will grab some and have a play. Wonderful canvas! hugs :)

  13. What a great explanation of product and another wonderfully designed canvas Becca!! Julia xx

  14. This was an awesome and super cool post - I love how informative it was and I LOVE how GREAT your project came out!!! Literally - so AWESOME!!! You are such a super smart, talented and SWEET person - have a BEAUTIFUL day!!!

  15. No, thank YOU!!! This was way informative and sooooo helpful to someone hovering on the edge of that craft that is Mixed Media! I ADORE the canvas you made for this tutorial! So incredibly awesome!!! Thank you again! MUAH!

  16. What a gorgeous canvas!! The details are fabulous!! Awesome tutorial, too!! Congrats to the winner!! Have a great day :)

    A Mermaid's Crafts

  17. For a fledgling you're pretty expert! Great tutorial!

  18. cool canvas!!! love your techniques and how it turned out!!!!

  19. Wow Becca!! That canvas is GORGEOUS! I love the colors you used and the way you described gel versus gesso is fantastic. I love how you used the gesso over the burlap like that. It actually enhances the look when you color and rub the gelato over it. I also like the idea of tearing up and then adding the music paper like you did. I haven't done that in a long time and think I need to dig up this technique again. Fantastic tutorial. Thank you!!

  20. You constantly impress me WOW! You really did it this time. Truly lovely and, oh so, unique. WOW!, again.

  21. You constantly impress me WOW! You really did it this time. Truly lovely and, oh so, unique. WOW!, again.

  22. Love, love, love your canvas Becca...fabulous composition and techniques. Thanks for sharing your product tips too, I shall be trying some of these! Carol x

  23. Well thank you so much for explaining! I had no idea! And thanks for the tutorial!
    Have a good day!

  24. Wow! I loved watching your canvas come to life and hearing how you used the gesso and gel medium! Gorgeous, Becca!!

  25. Stunning Canvas Becca! What a great description about gesso and gel medium...

  26. Amazing Becca, the little tutorial and explanation was useful....xx
    {aNNie The Journey Is The Start My Personal Blog}

  27. Becca, this art style is so you!! I am loving your tutorials on technique and materials used!! Keep up the great work!!

  28. Fantastic canvas, Becca! What a great detailed tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing your products tips and ideas! Hugs! Branka xxx

  29. Excellent tutorial hun, and a super fab finishes project :)

  30. Really fabulous tutorial on your media my friend!! LOVE your awesome canvas project!! :)

  31. love what you did with that burlap canvas - thanks for sharing your beautiful project at the STAMPlorations Mixed Media Challenge

  32. This is so informative, love the little canvas u created :) awesome work!

  33. excellent explanation & demo... plus... look at that cool canvas!!! :)

  34. awesome tutorial and amazing piece of art! :)

  35. Thank you for explaining this because I didn't know much about it. Great teaching and love your result!!

  36. Wow some amazing layers on that canvas Becca and lovely to find you from your comment on my blog. I looove your blog name! :)

  37. Super post Becca and love your finished canvas, hugs Carole Z X

  38. I LOVE your canvas! It looks fantastic on the burlap!

  39. This is really amazing Becca! This is really stunning and you did an fabulous job! You are really a true artist and I love the inspiration! ;-)

  40. Fabulous canvas and loved all the info around gesso and gel medium. Thank you x

  41. Dear Becca
    I just read all your explanation
    amazing mixed media you created here
    Now I learn about Gesso from your post thanks my sweet friend
    I love you change the BE YOU to be orange
    all the texture here
    I love if you made mixed media you are queen for it..
    hugs, will catch up now sweety

  42. WOW I just love your creativity with your piece of art - love it. Thank you for sharing with us over at Altered Eclectics this month and hope to see you again in future challenges.

    Handcrafted by Ellapu
    Mother Hen for Altered Eclectics
    Mother Hen for Eclectic Ellapu
    DT Rhedd's Creative Spirit
    DT The Mirror Crack'd
    DT Anything but a Card

  43. Fabulous tutorial, Ms. Becca! I'm not sure I have the confidence (or supplies!) to try these techniques, but oh, how I enjoy learning about and seeing the tools and the creativity of artists. Your canvas ROCKS!