The Bottom Line
- Transparent when dry, not white like "normal" primers.
- Mixable with acrylic paint to create a colored ground.
- Suitable primer for acrylic, oils, and alkyd paints.
- Use on paper to create tooth for pastels.
- Fluid not stiff, no need to dilute before painting onto a canvas.
- You need to remember where you've applied it or angle your canvas/paper to the light to see it.
- Artist's quality acrylic-based gesso that dries transparent rather than white, with a matt finish.
- Manufactured by Winsor & Newton, in France.
- Available in pots, in three sizes: 8oz, 16oz, and 32oz (237ml, 474ml, and 946ml).
Guide Review - Winsor & Newton Artist's Acrylic Clear Gesso
If you like painting on a white canvas, then you probably will never have a use for clear gesso. But if you like painting on a colored ground, then being able to create one by mixing a color into gesso without the color being whitened is very handy. (W&N recommends one part paint to four parts clear gesso, and using opaque colors.)
So how can a gesso, which seals raw canvas and gives it a gritty surface for paint (or pastel) to adhere to, be clear rather than white when it's dry. The answer is that it's made from a clear resin, without any pigment in it. I tried it on the black cover of a sketchbook, and was impressed by how clear it does dry. On black, you see it as texture in the light (see photo).
The tooth is very fine, like very fine sandpaper, not coarse. It's quite fluid (W&N rate it mid-way between fluid and thick on the label) so it won't need diluting to use. I found it holds brushmarks well, but also smooth if you blend out the brushmarks. It's not texture paste, it's a primer, so don't expect it to create masses of texture as the beginning of a painting.
Update January 2012: I used some of this on top of a painting over a painted area that looked odd because it lacked the texture of the rest of the composition. Where it was applied fairly thinly, it dried clear, but where it was in a peak a few millimeters thick, it was semi-opaque, obscuring the color beneath. But this isn't what it's designed for -- it's meant as an initial layer. I ended up glazing over the section.
See Also: Review W&N White Acrylic Gesso