Do it yourself (DIY): Chalky colours made with Gesso and acrylic colours

Objects in a shabby and used-look and colours with a mat chalky surface, also known as chalky colours, have been very trendy creative themes for the last months. There are, of course, ready-to-use colours available, but it is easy to produce chalky colours yourself, using your own acrylic colours and gesso.

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Some information in advance:

Why do we need gesso instead of white acrylic colour?

Gesso has two important functions. First, when mixing acrylic colours with gesso you receive pastel shades than you can choose the degree of lightening. Second, gesso produces the matand chalky-like finish which makes it ideal for mixing shabby chic-colours. The advantage of these colours is that they form a water-resistant coat: You can use them on all clean and grease-free surfaces, like e.g. wood, cardboard, concrete,...



You will need:

  • Schmincke Gesso (50518)
  • Acrylic colours in different shades, e.g. PRIMAcryl® Finest artists' acrylic, AKADEMIE® Acryl color or College® Acrylic
  • Pallet or plate for mixing
  • Flat brushes
  • Abrasive paper
  • Possible Schmincke Size/Pre-primer for preparing theground (50510 or 50511, see below)
  • Possible candle/wax, pattern and brush for patterns or asmall sponge (see below)
  • For protecting, if necessary, Schmincke Acrylic lacquermatt (50588)



To start:

First check the surface of your object to be designed. If necessary, the surface can be grinded with abrasive paper or primed, for example, with Schmincke Size/ Pre-primer (50510) - for wood, cardboard or Schmincke Size/ primer (50511) - for sanding surfaces, concrete, stucco. On a pallet you mix the chosen colour with gesso and apply the mixture with a flat brush on the ground. Let the colour dry. For making the former underground visible (shabby style), you can grind the object carefully with abrasive paper.

Variation 1:

Two-tone designs can be very charming. For this purpose you proceed like outlined above. When the colour has dried, you carefully apply some wax on several parts using a candle. Now you can apply a second and thin layer of another chalky colour. After drying you remove the wax-colour-layer with abrasive paper so that the first colour reappears.



Variation 2:

Using patterns and a brush for patterns (or a small sponge), you can apply ornaments or characters. Use a contrasting colour and dab the colour carefully through the pattern. To avoid a slipping of the pattern you can fix it with tape.





If you want to protect the object for using it outside, we recommend the Schmincke Acrylic lacquer matt (50588), to keep the matt character of the surface.



Mixing examples: Gesso and acrylic colours in different mixing ratios.



Examples for different objects: Two-tone wooden box designed with pattern; tin used as a container for brushes and concrete bowl.



Big wooden chest with different colour layers and fine pattern details.