So I was bopping around on Frothers and stumbled upon Under The Mountain, a blog that is new to me. Lots of resources and info, including a massive list of mini companies/manufacturers. I noticed a category at the top of the nav bar entitled "Gesso" - it sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it, so of course I had to click on it and see what it was all about.
You may already know what I now know, but as it turns out, Gesso is a surface prep compound used by artists (the kind of artists who paint on canvas, that is to say). The article in question details Gesso as a brush-on primer for miniatures. There was quite a bit of info to digest, but it is a good read, complete with pictures. You can practically glop on the stuff straight out of the bottle and about two hours later, it has shrunk and dried, with nary a detail lost in the process! It sounds promising, so the only thing left to do is actually give it a try myself and see what happens.
Anyone out there use Gesso as your default primer? I'd be interested in what others have to say about it.