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You’ll need some gesso and a flat piece of plastic. I cut mine out of a peanut can lid! Ideally, your tool should have a straight edge and rounded corners.

I’m not sure if this is a well known technique, or if it’s new to some people, but using a piece of plastic to apply gesso (or background color) goes quickly, saves paint, and leaves a nice, smooth surface. If you don’t have a piece of plastic, a piece of sturdy mat board or a credit card can work. …Or real squeegee, I imagine.

I learned this from my first painting professor at Montana State University, Hal Schlotzhauer, and I use it whenever I need to quickly cover a surface with a thin coat of paint or gesso. It’s especially handy when I’m painting flats for plays and I’m pressed for time and materials.

In this video, I’m covering a canvas with gesso that I’ve tinted with pink acrylic paint. I use my finger to smooth the edges. When I’m done painting, if I don’t frame, I use a printmaking brayer to paint the edges whatever color I want.

I could add another coat and sand lightly with fine sandpaper for an extra smooth surface, but in this case I’m not too worried about perfect coverage, and they’re pretty smooth without any sanding.

Just now I did six canvases in less than 30 minutes, with practically no waste. I used about 1/2 cup of tinted gesso in all. (The canvases already had one layer of gesso on them)




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