Gesso is a primer used in painting and mixed media art. It's a white or off-white paint that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including wood, canvas and paper.
Gesso has many different uses, such as priming a surface for oil paints or watercolors. It can also act as an adhesive for collage elements and other mixed media materials.
Gesso is usually made from rabbit skin glue, chalk and whiting (a type of calcium carbonate). It's the chalk that gives gesso its distinctive chalky white color.
The best way to use gesso is to brush it on the surface you're working on before you start your art project. One coat is usually enough but if you want extra protection, you can apply more coats. The more coats you apply, the thicker your gesso layer will be which may affect how well your other art supplies stick to it.
After applying gesso to your surface, let it dry completely before painting over it with oil or watercolours or applying other materials such as collage elements or pastels.