Select a painting project you want to do. Decide on which painting media you are going to use. Think about what you want to accomplish with the painting.
Do you want to use take advantage of the whiteness of the canvas? Choose a white acrylic gesso. You can add colors to the canvas while the gesso is wet or dry. While wet it will help in the lightening of colors. When dry, the white can show through by glazing with a color over it.
Do you want colors to appear more brilliant against a dark background? Take advantage of a black acrylic gesso. You can take advantage of the black to add to shadows and to make an easy background. It is especially good for portraits and still lifes and can have colors added to the black or glazed over for effect.
Are you painting on something such as wood where you don't want to block the background with an opaque gesso? Use a clear Acrylic gesso. Clear gesso has very good tooth and works well with acrylics, oils, water soluble oils, pastels, oil pastels, graphite and charcoal.
Most white and black gesso can be used for acrylics and oils. With oils, you may choose to use the tradition gesso for oils made from a powdered mixture of gypsum, rabbit skin glue, marble dust, and titanium white.