I gesso all of my painting panels for a number of reasons: It seals the panel that I’m painting on, it smooths the surface, paint applies better over gesso, and paint colours are enhanced and easer to achieve. Applying gesso is annoying. Gesso is usually thin so you can pour it over the painting surface and spread it with a large taping knife or trowel which makes the surface quite flat and smooth. This works great except that there will be drips, which can be problematic depending on the floor surface. I’ve finally ended up applying the gesso thinly by brush.
I play with the idea of adding colour to the gesso but I usually add a colour wash to the panels after I’m finished with gesso. I’m rarely sure of the colour so I usually don’t bother adding it to the gesso, instead I use a colour wash over the entire surface. Many artists apply the gesso with some surface texture. Sometimes it just looks layered but I would be afraid that would change the look of the painting. On the examples I’ve seen it adds to the painting, not detract from it. I’m thinking that I should try it; I might like it.
I don’t think I’ll add as much texture as this but it’s still interesting and it would eliminate how much time it takes to brush on a thin coat. It certainly wouldn’t be boring.