Holy Grail colored gesso | Create an Underpainting for Encaustic

Colored Gesso for Encaustic Painting

So you think you know and love Holy Grail, the first gesso made for encaustic painting?  Well look again – there are over a dozen colors now and artists are having a field day using them straight, tinting them with the white, and mixing them with each other.

Colors were introduced in a 6 ounce jar but are now available in 16 ounces at a lower per-ounce cost.  If you want a specific color, email Hylla Evans and it can be made for you usually within a day.

How to use Encaustic Gesso

Paint Holy Grail directly onto any flat, absorbent substrate and let dry, usually about an hour.

For a luminous look in your encaustic paintings, start with a white gessoed ground and work your wax layers transparently.  As in oil paint glazes, the finished piece will seem to be lit from within.

Encaustic Underpainting with colored gesso

If you want to do an entire underpainting with edges that will stay clean and sharp and areas that won’t move later when your wax is fused, use any Holy Grail colors applied with any paintbrush you’d use for water media.  Touch ups may be done by removing HG with a wet sponge.  Make sure you do all your Holy Grail painting before any wax is applied!

Once HG is dry, go ahead with your wax painting and fuse the first layer of wax well, just as you would on a bare panel.  Add colored wax paint and continue as a regular painting session would go.

Show us your results!

Here is a painting done by Jeff Schaller using colors of Holy Grail Gesso.  Can you guess what was done in HG and what was done in Evans Encaustic paint?

colored gesso underpainting | Encaustic Painting by Jeff Schaller
Image: Good Food, copyright Jeff Schaller 2010

I’d love to hear what you think. Please add your comments!

Hylla Evans

About Hylla Evans

Hylla Evans is paintmaker for Evans Encaustics. She teaches encaustic painting, oil painting, color theory, and teacher training to working artists. Hylla has a functional obsession with colors and numbers, keeping organized in the midst of tremendous inspiration from her artist friends.

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9 thoughts on “Holy Grail colored gesso | Create an Underpainting for Encaustic


  1. Thanks for this post Hylla. I’ve only ever worked directly on a wood or paper surface so I’m interested now to try gesso and see what effect it produces.


  2. Is there a clear? If so can it go over acrylic paints? I’m looking for a product to put between acrylic and encaustic medium to make my artwork stable and archival.


    1. There is no clear. There are more than 15 colors, white and black.
      Encaustic should not ever be put on anything acrylic. All I can suggest is to glue down heavy (300lb) watercolor paper to the surface and then you’ll have an absorbent support.


  3. Thanks for the prompt reply Hylla.

    So you are saying that one could stretch watercolour paper onto board as an adsorbent surface to then add encaustic mediums on top of? I’m interested in doing some under painting before adding hot wax, can I paint onto the watercolour paper with watercolours then add the encaustic medium? Is this archival?


  4. Awesome, thanks for the information and advice Hylla.

    I do like the idea the Holly Grail Encaustic Gesso for under painting, and I will be keeping this in mind down the track. Do you ship to Australia?

    Thanks again for your help.


  5. Can I use Holy Grail gesso as a primer or underpainting for oil painting? I don’t like acrylic based gesso. Thanks.

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