I went to check out Zura's blog The Creative Clown. I didn't know what to expect. And there amongst her great posts was a discussion on gesso. I too love gesso and I have just finished the lecture in my classes on drawing and painting. I love to talk about paint and all the different uses, applications, colors, and types of paints and painting surfaces there are. I have always used gesso to seal porous surfaces so that I can then use my colored paints to create my images. I believe that gesso must have been the result of artists playing around with plaster slip for fresco painting and discovered that by applying it to a porous surface like wood would seal it. Then they were able to start to use other types of paints to paint with - like real tempera paint.
Tempera paint has a base of egg to it. It's not like that chalky stuff some of may remember from grade school. The early Italian Rennaissance artists used it to create some of the finest, delicate and detailed painting by layering tempera paint glazes on top of one another. Fabulous. In the 20th century the artist Maxfield Parrish used tempera to create his luminous images that many of us are familair with.
That is the spark the Zura gave me today. It made a real connection. If you want some inspiriation, I think that Zura can give you a step up. Visit her blog: http://creativeclown.com/