Does clear gesso really show as clear?

I have a large piece of mdf board that I have spray painted black. I'd like to use clear gesso over it to create a surface to paint with acrylics. I also have a smaller piece of mdf board that I have painted an image on with acrylics and spray paint. If I paint over it with clear gesso will it ruin the image or will I be able to paint over it yet still see the image below it? Is there a better alternative than clear Gesso?

1 Answer 1


For your black piece, a slightly better alternative would be black gesso, since clear gesso is slightly cloudy. Liquitex and Golden make it.

For your smaller piece -

If want to draw on your surface and need a lot of tooth, then clear gesso will help. Clear gesso is very toothy, and too rough for some applications.

If you're afraid that your new layer of paint won't stick to the spray paint, then try matte medium, which has a little tooth. Or you could mix matte medium with clear gesso to get the properties you want. Or you could sand the slick parts.

Your previous layer of acrylic paint should not be dissolved or washed away by the gesso or matte medium, unless it's not fully cured, or you thinned the acrylic paint with too much water. Use THIN coats of gesso or matte medium, and minimal brushing.

It might make glossy areas less glossy, and porous areas more wet looking.

It is slightly opaque, but not noticeably cloudy in two thin layers.

  • Awesome answer! Thanks for the advice. I think I will go with the matte medium for the smaller piece. Gonna mull over the larger piece a little more
    – Chuck0185
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 3:05
  • Medium is just acrylic paint without the pigments, so I don see why adding a layer of medium would make a difference. You can just paint directly with the acrylic paint onto the original painting. Matte medium is slightly cloudy, so you will lose a bit of color definition if you go that route. Commented May 20, 2017 at 10:46
  • But Katinka, isn't matte medium less glossy (slick) than most artists' acrylics? Also, Golden has an extra-matte medium.
    – Robin L.
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 10:54

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