I would like to share my experience in conducting a fresco painting workshop for a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
The idea for the workshop came about after the students returned from an educational trip to Europe, where they saw first had the frescos in the Sistine Chapel, and also in the Basillica at Assissi.
Knowing of my painting background, the school approached me to conduct the workshop. At the time, I had never painted a fresco, although I had read about the technical aspects of the process. So it was an entirely new experience for me as well!
My first problem was locating lime plaster, I couldn’t find any. And I didn’t have 6 months to 3 years to slake any either. I ended up using a commercial product, sold by the Sidney Harbor Paint Company in Studio City, California. The product is called “fresco”, it was a lime based wall covering, but it was not pure lime. However, it was all I had, so that’s what we used. Sidney Harbor also sold lime based paints, so we used those as well.
The students painted their frescos onto the backs of 12” x 12” ceramic tiles, that had been soaked in water overnight. The first week I had them put on a float coat, the lime product – sand proportions were guestimated, using paint stirrers to apply and smooth the mixture.
The following week we applied an intonacco, again the lime product – sand proportions were guestimated. After waiting for the plaster to set up, the students all commenced with the painting. I am happy to report that “frescos” were a success. The plaster mixture adhered very well to the tile, and the paint absorbed well into the surface. Six months later, the colors have developed well, although on most of them there were surface cracks.
The important thing is that the students actually participated in the fresco painting process. The materials were not perfect, but they did create some wonderful works of art. And it absolutely gave them a strong appreciation for the work that Michelangelo and Giotto did, they learned that fresco is an involved process, and they also had a lot of fun.
Now that I have participated in two of Ilia Anossov’s fresco workshops, and have learned about the proper tools, materials, and techniques for buon fresco, I am looking forward to repeating the workshop this year.