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Patrons Steve & Renee
Upah with artist Ilia Anossov in front of the color
rendering for Albuquerque Fresco.
understanding of the components and team effort is true to the
past masters of the art. He truly is a visionary. It's been a year
since the fresco was completed. It has changed it's outlook every
day of the past year. Ilias talent is beyond merely fabulous. The
technique in itself is an amazing art form. Ilias interpretation
with and in the materials is exquisite. The beauty continues to
evolve and intensify, as the fresco becomes its intended self.
Seeing past the immediate results and understanding the final
outcome is truly the realm of the fresco master. Everyone, who sees it, sits for extended time periods. Guests have even stayed over night in order to see it in the morning sunlight."
Steve Upah, Patron
and his highly skilled team demonstrated a high degree of
discipline and creativity during the two-month project. He
transformed a thirty-foot wall into a living display of beauty
that will outlast most of the art and architecture of the
is a creative genius and works with a wonderful team..." Amy
Bowers, Emmy Award Winning Documentary Producer (Best Public Affairs)
Albuquerque Fresco initial concept
sketch 24"x20" pencil, watercolor wash on paper. by Ilia
Watercolor sketch/rendering of
the initial concept was approved by Steve & Renee. Only one
alteration was requested - a man ascending the staircase was
replaced with a child feeding doves.
& Renee selected two images of Ilia's frescoes from his
portable fresco collection to serve as a reference / general idea of "feeling" and
style for the future fresco. Also patrons and artist developed a general "wish
list" for elements and details of the composition.
different composition concepts were developed and
illustrated with two 24"X10" (1 inch=1 foot.)
sketches. Next steps in the design/composition development will be
discussed in the Cartoon
section and now to the Preparation of the Wall!
Everything in life rests on its foundation and only as strong or successful
as the base that it is rests upon. Fresco begins with the
wall. It is essential to pay close attention to all aspects of
wall preparation, there are no shortcuts and substitutes for the
materials and techniques. Every layer of plaster must be prepared
and laid to its own specifications. Each layer affects how the wall will
absorb and retain moisture during the painting process. The strength
of the wall is also important since it has to "hold" a
great deal of plaster. The best support for fresco is red brick.
Before applying plaster wall should be thoroughly inspected for
cracks and, most important, for salts and dampness. Later two are
the worst and to some extend, are the only enemies of true (buon)
fresco. If salt spots are found than the wall itself is not
suitable for fresco - regardless what you do this spats will
remain and eventually destroy the plaster. In such case a new wall
(panel) should be constructed and anchored to the original wall
with about 1.5 inch space in-between.. If the wall has damp spots
it is necessary to locate the source correct the problem in most
cases same wall/panel should be constructed as in example with salt
spots. Diego Rivera painted most of his frescoes using this panel
system, because it also helps to keep an even moisture throughout
the wall during the actual painting process. Fresco Technique
section of this website discusses this topic in greater detail.
Wall prep on location,
lining of the wall. October
4th - 15th, 1999.
Ian Hardwick (left), Aaron Mason (right)
Wall prep on location,
sand sifting. October
4th - 15th, 1999.
Aaron Mason (left), Ilia Anossov (right)
Such "wall/panel" system was used for the Albuquerque
Fresco because the wall was originally painted with conventional
paints, however it was not necessary to offset the plaster.
Supporting steel beams were anchored to the original wall from the
foundation to the ceiling to support the wall and plaster. Wire
mash was fastened to the beams to hold five unique layers of
above illustrates the
lining" for the installation of the supporting beams.
there is a total five coats of plaster used in fresco painting.
Ingredients are as follows:
- must be river sand, angular not round, scrupulously clean. See
sand contains salts and land sand contains clay both are bad for
lime plasters. It is also has to be well sifted to keep the grade
Slaked Lime - Lime Putty is a lime paste, best
if slaked and let sit in the pit for a few years, but could
be prepared from high quality hydrated lime by mixing into paste
with distilled water. Lime should have no or insignificant
Scratch coat - is a base coat applied directly on the wall or
wire mesh backed with a vapor barrier. Plaster is prepared with
rather coarse grade of sand (in size slightly finer than sea salt
crystals but coarser than laundry detergent), lime and Portland
cement in a proportion of 3-2-10 or so. This coat is being floated
flat, but rather rough and after it sets slightly scratched with
tile trowel to give more of a "tooth" for the next coat,
hence the name "Scratch Coat". (see
photo on your right)
2. Rough coat - is
prepared with finer sand (something like laundry detergent) and
lime putty. As an option up to 20% of white Portland cement
can be added. The
proportion is 5-10 of lime and sand. This coat should be
leveled up flat but left rough. Hence the name "Rough
Coat". It could be also slightly scratched. (see
photo on your right)
A lot of trowel
work by Ian Hardwick (rough
October 4th - 15th, 1999
Float Coat - last
layer of plaster before intonaco (final painting layer) October
4th - 15th, 1999
Final color study for
(5ft by 6ft acrylic on canvas)
Float or Brown coat (Arriccio) - this is the last coat before the
painting layer and should be floated with the wooden float to the
absolutely flat surface but not troweled smooth. It is left
"sand finished". I also like it slightly scratched with
two nails driven through the wooden float, sticking about 1/8 of
an inch into the plaster. It is made of 5 part of lime putty and 8
parts of finer (between sugar and laundry detergent) sand. (see
photo on your below)
Skin coat (Intonaco) - is a final painting coat made of extra
fine sand and lime putty in the proportion of 5--8. Intonaco
is applied in two separate steps Base and Skim. After the Base is
laid and floated flat it is left to "sit" for about
20-30 min before the final, thin, 1/8 of an inch skin of plaster is
applied. Skin must be troweled with a pressure to a very smooth
surface. It should not be over troweled, because this will bring
water to the surface and it will cause the layer to detach. After
about 5-10 minutes this layer should be "pressed" with a
trowel one last time. The wall is ready to paint in about 15 - 30
min after that.
learn more about the technique please post your questions in
al Fresco - "Ilia's Albq. Fresco forum.
Also your questions
and suggestions will help in the developing of the Fresco Painting
Technique section of this website.
To commission fresco,
mural, trompe l'oeil click "Get
To purchase fresco supplies
and lime putty click
to "Albuquerque Fresco".
for painting. Concept development, sketch and color study.
Developing of the Cartoon. Full scale
Cartoon for fresco step-by-step.
Painting of the Albuquerque Fresco. Painting,
color, technique details.
Documentary "Albuquerque Fresco -
Inside Look". Documentary by Emmy Award Winning producer,
Amy Bowers ABTV. Pre-order form and details. Free introductory