When preparing your wood for panting, you may wish to add texture. Sure you can add texture with paint but paint is a bit expensive and Gesso is usually less expensive.
Here are just some of the tools I use to create texture with Acrylic Gesso. A cake decorating spatula, (or a large palette knife) paint brushes, plastic lids of various sizes. Anything from a butter container to a coffee container will work fine. Your hands, rags, rubber shapers, (you can make your own from ink erasers) & various types of nap rollers, smooth to rag, it all depends upon the effect your looking for. Really anything you have around the house can add texture, just look around and find things you would like to introduce, such as lace, screens, webbing, fabric, & stamps, etc.
In the two examples you can see the variety of looks you can achieve. The first is my pencil box which I have painted in watercolor on textured gesso and sealed it with a clear gloss, the other example is a block of wood covered in gesso, sanded lightlyt and also painted in watercolor but this time sealed with a matt seal coat.
It would be a good idea to try both and see what combination fits your style.
This is a close up of gesso on the spatula doesn’t it looks like frosting?
You may want to put the gesso on the reverse side of the spaula, it makes it easier to apply.
Below is a rubber shaper, you can push the gesso around before it dries or use it to pull gesso off the surface.
Scumble anything over the surface and it will skip making some really great texture.
Using the very smooth roller I’m making almost no texture I want this area smooth for the figure. Too much texture can be distracting, try to find a bit of balance in your piece.
Here I have applied tape to the wood and after painting gesso over it, pull it off to leave a negative shape
In the photo below, I’m using a small butter container lid to put the gesso on in large swaths. You just have to cut the roundness off of one edge and create a nice curved or straight edge so the gesso will roll onto the wood.
This is the final photo showing how the Plywood looks. When it dries it will be ready to paint on or draw if that is your choice.