Here is a lesson in Italian for
you: Buon Fresco, Fresco Secco, arriccio and intonaca. Oh,
and faux fresco!
I've painting a few murals using
the fresco secco technique of painting; that is painting acrylic paint into a dry
plaster wall: the final effect is a wall mural that looks a thousand years old.
I had the opportunity to paint a
mural in the buon fresco technique. That means "true-fresh"--in
this context referring to the dampness of the freshly applied lime plaster on which
the paints are applied. First a base coat of coarse plaster called the arriccio
is applied to a wall or ceiling. The late Medieval and early Renaissance masters of
fresco (Giotto, Masaccio and others) roughed out their mural schemes in charcoal and red
pigment onto this surface. Then the second layer of finer, smoother plaster mixed
with marble dust is trowelled on, called the intonaco. Onto this surface,
the mural or decoration is painted. Check out a
The actual painting part of buon
fresco is truly enjoyable! After the intonaco sets up a little, the
paint flows off the brush into an absorbant wall that "drinks" the paint.
The final effect is spectacular. Not only is the wall changed from drywall into stone,
with the paint becoming part of the stone, also it looks as ancient as the medium
itself. To modern eyes, the revelation of a contemporary vision of the fresco
technique in its simplest form is the astonishing beauty if the color--so clear and pure
as to be almost incandescent, but relieved from inhuman perfection by the minute
variations in the intonaco surface. Check out How to Paint a Fresco.
I've also invented a term of my
own: faux fresco. I have always experimented using unusual mediums to
achieve desired effects. Faux fresco is water media painting into drywall joint
compound that has the look and feel of buon fresco but with a lot less manpower.
First the walls are trowelled with joint compound rougthly to make the surface look old,
then after dry, washes of color are painted into the "thirsty" wall. Once the
mural is done, the wall may be further aged by sanding back the surface a little or a lot
depending on how old the mural needs to look. Faux fresco is a great alternative to real
fresco because it's less manpower, and therefore less cost. Check out a sample.