Fresco Painting Technique Explained Fresco Painting Technique Explained

Having its start in ancient Rome, the fresco painting technique was used much like we hang pictures on our walls. The Romans wanted a way to liven up their drab walls from being a plain gray color to something with vibrancy and plenty of colors. This painting technique is a way to paint on wet surfaces that can be done on a myriad of different areas and finishes. Here is a short guide to fresco painting to help you better understand this tried and true way to decorate your home or landscape.

Planning is Paramount

Before jumping into any type of fresco painting, a great deal of planning should take place first. Fresco paintings are great pieces of art that can encompass the entire wall. People are are thinking of doing this type of painting will spend a great deal of time planning out what will actually adorn the wall, where it will go, and what story will be told. Making a simple drawing of the entire wall is a great first step. From there the person can begin drawing slightly larger sections for more detail.

Transfer Drawings

The biggest part of the fresco painting is the cartoon that you draw beforehand. This cartoon is the actual picture of what is going on the wall that is just slightly larger than the finished product. Trace this cartoon onto a piece of tracing paper. On this tracing paper you will use a tracing wheel that will make an imprinted outline of the tracing. Once the tracing is complete, a pounce bag (a bag filled with charcoal) is used to transfer this design onto a wet surface.

Wall Preparation

The wall needs to have a wet, flat surface in order for the fresco to come out right. Lime putty is used in this process and spread out of the wall. Before you begin to spread out the lime putty plaster the wall must be wet down thoroughly. Not soaking wet, but enough water to have water on the surface.

Spread Out in Small Batches

As you are spreading out the lime putty you will need to work in small areas at a time. Do not attempt to putty the entire wall as the fresco painting must be done on a wet surface. Cover a small section at a time with the putty and smooth it out with a trowel.

Trace Pattern

At this point the cartoon that has been drawn can be transferred over to the wall. The drawing is lifted up on the section of wall that has just had the plaster applied to it. As it is held in place, the pounce bag is used to spread out the charcoal onto it.

Paint Quickly

The putty will begin to dry in 12 hours, but you really only have about 7 hours before the plaster gets too dry for the paint to be sucked into the plaster. Brushes used in fresco painting have long, soft bristles that contain only enough paint for tiny sections at once. As the paint is applied, the plaster will suck it in to create the "in plaster" design.

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