DO You Know How To Use Gesso? – Bible Journaling Tips & Tricks!

Check out this INFO PACKED article from my BFF & Partner is Crime, Denyse Paterniti! She is awesome when it comes to all things arts & crafts…. You know, the kinds of things that stress me out… Happy Reading!

This article by Denyse Paterniti of Faith in HeART, originally appeared on Faith In HeART.


Posted by Denyse Paterniti May 13th 2016

Gesso is used to prepare surfaces for painting. It is a ready-mixed medium that covers in one coat and is flexible, and non-cracking. It will act as a barrier for any liquid products that you will use on your Bible pages.

Gesso for Bible Journaling

Gesso comes in a few colors or you can mix some Liquitex Soft or Heavy Body acrylic to the Liquitex gesso to give it a tint of color it also comes in various thicknesses.

But, for the purpose of Bible journaling you will want to use a “white”, “clear” or “transparent” gesso. It is thin and easy to apply.

Next question. Why would you need to use Gesso?

If you are going to paint, use markers or inks on your pages you don’t want that paint to be absorbed into your page. The gesso will act as an invisible layer of protection on your Bible page. You want your beautiful artwork to sit on top of your page, so you will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

There are some art supplies that are known to bleed through the pages and using gesso on your pages will help prevent bleed through and not to mention frustration. I’m just trying to help a girl out!

The white gesso is very similar to white acrylic paint, only thinner. You do not want to use this on your whole Bible page as it will cover up the words. I’m just letting you know about this great fix for a messed up margin.

No need to ask how I know.

It is good for errors in your margins that you would like to cover up and illustrate over. It will leave you with a clean fresh area to create on.

For the purpose of Bible journaling, you want to use “clear” or “transparent” gesso, which is thin and easy to apply. With the clear gesso you can prep your whole Bible page and it will dry clear so you will be able to see and read through your Bible page.

Gesso for Bible

You can apply the gesso using a foam brush, make-up sponge or a plastic card.

Gesso for journaling

I use an old plastic rewards card. I just put gesso on it and spead it out on the page. It’s just like buttering bread.

Now remember that gesso primes the surface of your Bible page for painting, and it will make the surface slightly textured but it will be ready to accept acrylic paint, watercolors, markers, inks, etc.

Without Gesso, the paint or whatever liquid medium you are using would soak through the page. A good tip to make sure you don’t ruin too many pages is to apply a piece of paper or a plastic mat between your pages. I have also used Glad’s Press-n-Seal. Works great!

A quick way to dry the gesso is to use a heat gun.


It will dry your pages in seconds. This is one of the best tools I own. I dry paints, inks, glue…etc.

Now let’s talk about the brands of gesso.

Liquitex vs. Art Basics Gesso vs. Matte Gel Medium

The Liquitex Gesso comes in large sizes and the price if very reasonable. You do get a lot of bang for the buck, that would be 32 ounces of bang. The Liquitex brand will cause some wrinkling which will smooth out when your Bible is closed.

LiquidTex copy

This clear gesso will also leave your surface with a rather gritty texture. Almost like sandpaper and the Bibles pages are so thin that any rubbing or roughness could lead to brushes, pens or pencils grabbing the page and tearing it.

When painting, your brushes will not glide smoothly over the page and neither will your pens or colored pencils. You can lightly sand the surface but you will still get a gritty texture. This is fine if you are not going for a smooth finish.

You just want to be very careful if you do use the Liquitex Gesso as it has been known to ruin the tips of some pens. Yep! I know this for a fact.

It’s almost like writing on fine grit sandpaper.

The PrimaArt Basic Gesso comes in a smaller 8.5 oz jar and I’ve only been able to find it online. But, it is so worth every penny spent and a little does go a long way.

The Art Basic brand does not wrinkle your pages as much as the Liquidtex.

Gesso Bible Pages

Just remember that you do not have to gesso every page of your Bible, so you really only need to apply it to those pages that you are using paints and inks that have a tendency to bleed through.

The art basic gesso is a clear gesso that creates a smooth workable finish. There is no gritty texture so you don’t have to worry about pens or pencils grabbing or having a roughness when you are trying to paint. You can also use the art basic gesso as a sealer over your pages and as a glue for adding additional art to your creations.

Now let’s talk about Matte Gel Medium.

This medium comes in an 8-ounce container. You can apply this matte gel the same way as you apply the gesso. It is a good alternative if you are using acrylic paints, as the medium will act as an extender to the acrylics leaving them wet longer and more workable while you create.

You just mix your acrylic paint with a little matte gel medium if you need more time to work with your acrylics. It will also make your colors more transparent.

It dries in a matte finish which is better than gloss especially if you are photographing your pages.

You can also use the matte gel medium as an adhesive if you would like to add notes, letters, or other paper crafting to your Bible. You can also add the gel medium to the top of the paper that you have added. The matte gel will work as a sealer. It’s almost like decoupage but much gentler on your Bible pages.

One thing to remember is that if you are using any medium as a sealer you only want to add it to things that are permanent. If it will lift when you add liquid, such as watercolor, then it is not permanent.

If you would like to protect your non-permanent artwork then you want to use a spray fixative. This will seal your pages creations.

That’s all there is to protecting your Bible/journaling pages from bleed through’s.

Check out Denyse’s Other Posts HERE!

If you have a tip on using gesso, matte medium or fixative spray I’d love to hear them!

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