Fresco painting

Fresco painting is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid (“wet”) lime plaster. It’s one of the oldest known forms of painting on walls, dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

Here’s a brief overview of the fresco painting process:

  1. Surface Preparation: The wall or surface intended for fresco painting is prepared with multiple layers of plaster. The final layer is a thin coat of fresh lime plaster, which provides a smooth and absorbent surface for the pigments.
  2. Application of Pigments: While the plaster is still wet (known as “intorno”), the artist applies pigments mixed with water onto the surface. The pigments penetrate the wet plaster and become chemically bonded with it as the plaster dries, resulting in a durable and long-lasting painting.
  3. Fresco Techniques:
    • Buon Fresco: In this technique, the pigments are applied to wet plaster, allowing for a strong bond between the pigments and the wall surface. Buon fresco is known for its durability and resistance to fading.
    • Fresco Secco: In this variation, the pigments are applied to dry plaster. While this technique allows for greater flexibility and detail in painting, it doesn’t create the same permanent bond as buon fresco and may not last as long.
  4. Working in Sections: Fresco painting is typically done in sections or “giornate” (Italian for “day’s work”) to accommodate the drying time of the plaster. The artist must work quickly and efficiently to complete each section before the plaster dries.

Fresco painting has been used throughout history to adorn the walls and ceilings of churches, palaces, and public buildings with elaborate murals, religious scenes, and decorative motifs. It’s a demanding technique that requires skill, patience, and careful planning but can result in stunning and enduring works of art.

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