Painting on location 2018-9

Sea at Aldwick, Evening Sun at 9pm
28 x 16 cm

The Art of Real Gesso

Real gesso is an ancient mixture of chalk dust and glue. This is produced over a double boiler and applied as a warm emulsified substance that is ivory in colour. This is separate from contemporary gesso primer which is made from acrylic and fillers, and is brilliant white in colour. In 1975, Coral G Guest received the technique of making real gesso from her Chelsea College studio tutors, one of whom was the painter and draughtsman, Ken Kiff. Gessoed surfaces, when carefully preserved, have been shown to last upwards of a thousand years, and counting.

Real Gesso is traditionally applied to a seasoned wood panel, and used as a ground for artworks using silverpoint, egg tempera and oil paint, before the use of artist’s canvas. As an aspect of Coral G Guest’s work, its purpose is to provide portable surfaces for both painting and drawing.

Guest stores her real gesso surfaces for many years before using them as supports for artworks. They are archived to give the surfaces time to adjust and to breathe in varied temperatures. In the summer of 2018, small-sized pieces of gessoed surfaces applied to hand made board in 2009, were brought out of storage. These served as the supports for new small landscapes created on location.

The works entitled South Coast Calling of 2018, are composed of nostalgic revisits to the coastal areas of south of England where Guest spent time with her grandparents at their holiday home, during the 1970s and 80s.

South Coast Calling Series