My Easy & Simple Gesso Recipe

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Gesso is one of the most important materials for painters. So much of it is used and it is used so often - especially if you make your own canvases. A huge downer though is how expensive gesso is especially if you’re covering a lot of surface. so as my part of my “don’t buy it, make it philosophy” I put together this quick blog post to share with you my favorite and well-tested recipe. It results in a very opaque and toothy gesso that does not leave a chalky residue when dry.

Gesso that’s ready for use

Gesso is made of a binder, fillers, and white pigment (usually titanium dioxide). 

Binder and Pigment

Traditional gesso uses rabbit skin glue as a binder and sizing -I will NOT be using that and will instead be making acrylic gesso. PVA wont do as the main binder although it is a polymer it is not acrylic- to make this gesso as high quality as store bought one its important to splurge just a little on an acrylic based binder. You can either use white acrylic paint from the art store, or transparent acrylic medium also from the art store, or latex house paint. For this recipe, I am using latex house paint, and I have poured some into a container (I eyeball everything I do and it works out ok!) .

Latex house paint is not latex its actually acrylic as misleading as that is, and is usually sold in larger quantities for much cheaper. You wanna get the highest quality product in the store but The most important part though is checking the ingredients. Your main ingredient should be acrylic, and titanium dioxide should be listed as the pigment. If it contains Vinyl Acetate (PVA glue) its not the best case scenario but it wont do any harm.


I am using whiting chalk as my filler. It is usually used to draw the lines on tennis and football fields and tends to be very cheap and very easy to find in hardware stores. You can also use marble dust as a substitute. For this recipe, I am using approximately 5-6 large cups of whiting chalk.

Whiting Chalk

The last step is to mix both the chalk and paint very well. For this I’m using a paint-mixing drill attachment as it’s cheap and gets the job done! 

Paint Mixing Attatchment

Mixing the Gesso

I hope you found this useful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I will get right back to you!


The result is a very opaque gesso that gives excellent coverage and doesn’t leave a chalky residue.

Using Format