Technique Tuesdays: Gesso


Welcome to another Technique Tuesday! Today we’re going to take a look at a substance that is near and dear to many an artist’s heart: gesso.

Technique Tuesday Gesso


What is it?

Pronounced “jesso”, this unique substance acts as a type of primer for many mediums of painting. Traditionally, gesso (an Italian word for gypsum) consists of a binder of some kind (historically, animal glue) combined with gypsum and chalk. Mixing and applying gesso is an art form in itself, but many artists find it well worth the effort to master the application, as gesso acts as an excellent primer that not only extends the archival life of a painting, but also can add an incredible textured effect to the finished work, as we will shortly see.

Examples from art history:

The use of gesso dates back to ancient times, as it was often used to create relief sculptures like those inside Egyptian tombs. It was also once popularly used in the production of ornate mirror frames. In fine art painting,  gesso has long been used to help paintings and especially frescoes (paintings done on a wall) to last longer. Today, many different types of gesso exist, for oil paints as well as for egg tempera and for acrylic. Though the very popularly-used acrylic gesso mixture does not contain the gypsum for which the substance was named but rather calcium carbonate, the term has firmly stuck in art vernacular, as both a noun and a verb (you can gesso a canvas by applying gesso).

Many old religious panel paintings and icons were painted on a surface of gesso to preserve the paint and delicate gold leaf

Many old religious panel paintings and icons were painted on a surface of gesso to preserve the paint and delicate gold leaf

Example of gesso at Principle Gallery:

Many of the artists whose work you see in Principle Gallery make use of gesso or very similar primers. One excellent example of the use of gesso for more than simply increasing the longevity of the work is seen in the paintings of GC Myers. Most of the pieces that he creates on canvas are begun with a carefully applied layer of gesso, thickly applied and manipulated to create just the right texture. In fact, Myers admits that sometimes the finished effect of the gesso layer is so lovely that he’s almost reluctant to paint over it! (He always does, though). Let’s take a look at this work by GC Myers, called “Neighborly.”

"Neighborly" by GC Myers, 18x18

“Neighborly” by GC Myers, 18×18

GC Myers is well known for his striking landscapes, and their distinctive stylization and color palettes. Each one seems to emit an energy and a luminosity that adds poignancy to the already evocative paintings. Check out this picture, taken at an angle to reflect the light, to see the swirling, textured layer of gesso beneath the paint:

Myers tilted

Gesso is used not just as a primer in Myers’s work; the use of a textured layer of gesso under the paint serves to add a visual interest and energy to every part of the composition.

Myers detail neighborly sun

Detail of “Neighborly” by GC Myers

Detail of "Neighborly" by GC Myers

Detail of “Neighborly” by GC Myers

To see more incredible landscapes by GC Myers, visit his artist page on our website by clicking here!

Check back with us next Tuesday for another Technique Tuesday post!




Technique Tuesdays: Impasto

Hello, everyone! Today we wanted to take a moment to introduce our new series of upcoming blog posts, called Technique Tuesdays.

We at Principle Gallery welcome and encourage all art enthusiasts. We’re also aware, though, that there are some folks out there who really enjoy art, but find themselves a bit lost when listening to discussion and criticism from those in the art world. “What in the world is ‘grisaille’ or ‘gesso,’ anyway?” you might wonder. Technique Tuesdays are here to help!

We’re looking forward to sharing these explanations of terminology and techniques– and even if you’re among those who are familiar with all of this vocabulary already, Technique Tuesdays will still be a fantastic chance to highlight our artists and take a sneak peek behind the scenes at the techniques that go into the creation of the amazing artworks you see in the gallery.

Without further ado, let’s begin with our first installment of Technique Tuesdays: Impasto!

Technique Tuesday Impasto

What does it mean?

Impasto is an Italian word meaning “dough” or “mixture.” As a painting technique, the term impasto refers to the very thick and textured application of paint, or even the mixing of paint on the canvas itself. With this technique, the paint is applied so thickly that when it dries, it appears to be three dimensional, like it’s coming right off the canvas!

Flowers 6x6c

Examples from art history:

As far back as the Renaissance, artists like Rembrandt, Titian, and Vermeer used impasto to make their paintings appear more three dimensional. Thick application of paint next to more delicate strokes helped to create the illusion of folds in fabric or facets in a jewel.

Later, Van Gogh began to use impasto in an expressive manner. The thick and textured brush strokes gave his work a vibrancy and energy that set it apart, and many artists today continue to use the technique both for expressive purposes as well as for its ability to enhance the realism of the work.

Detail of a Van Gogh painting showing the impasto technique

Detail of a Van Gogh painting showing the impasto technique

Example of impasto at Principle Gallery:

Though there are many to choose from, probably the most recognizable and unique use of impasto here at Principle Gallery is found in the work of landscape artist Lynn Boggess. His incredible landscapes are painted right outdoors and have a striking and unique energy to them.

"14 July 2014" by Lynn Boggess

“14 July 2014” by Lynn Boggess

Lynn applies paint to his canvases using various sizes of cement trowels and allows the paint to remain dense and textured, rather than smoothing or blending it into the surrounding brushstrokes. In fact, you can even see the paint rising off the surface of these paintings, up to a quarter of an inch at times!

A close-up shot of the surface of a Boggess landscape

A close-up shot of the surface of a Boggess landscape

The effect of light on this type of surface texture helps to give Lynn’s paintings that freshness, energy, and presence. This use of impasto also means we’ve got to be extra careful about preserving the delicate textured surface when we pack these paintings to be shipped! To see how we’re able to do this, check out this post from last year.

Click here to view our currently available work by Lynn Boggess. And be sure to keep an eye out for a lot more of Lynn’s landscapes to come in the gallery very soon as we prepare for his annual solo show, “A Walk Through the Woods,” opening February 20th!

Check back next Tuesday for another Technique Tuesday post, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube for more updates from the gallery!

How to Ship a Boggess Painting

If you follow our Facebook posts or our Instagram feed, you may remember this photo, posted the day all of Lynn Boggess’s work arrived for February’s exhibition:


The paintings were transported to the gallery by Lynn and packaged in a very clever way to protect them from damage in transit. The fact is, however, that it’s even trickier to package these works up after they are purchased and we prepare to ship them to their new owners!

One of the most captivating aspects of Lynn’s work is the incredible texture he achieves through his unique tools and painting methods. Here’s a close-up photo to show you an example:


The phenomenal texture of these works means that packing and shipping them is a bit trickier than it is for other paintings . When we pack a Boggess painting to be shipped, we don’t use traditional materials like bubble wrap, foam, or even cardboard boxes. Today we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at how we package these unique works to keep them extra protected.

Boggess paintings must be shipped in wooden crates to allow for them to ship without anything disturbing the surface of the work. To secure them in the crates, we utilize the stretcher boards on the back of the paintings.


Next, we get just the right crate so that the painting fits inside with only a slight amount of extra room.


And next, we secure the whole thing by screwing together the stretcher boards and the crate!


So that finally, we have a secure way of getting these spectacular landscapes into the hands of their collectors: Image

It’s a bit extra work to safely package up these pieces, but if you’ve seen how striking and lush these works are in person, you’ll understand why it’s so worth it.

To check out the Lynn Boggess paintings we currently have available at Principle Gallery, don’t forget to check his page on our website. To make sure you keep up on all the gallery’s news and events, make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!