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Revisiting fresco technique

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

In this post, I would like to speak about fresco technique. In Avignon, France I had the beautiful opportunity to learn how our ancestors were using natural materials for creating paintings and murals. These ancients techniques were included milk paint, tempera, gilding, lacquer painting from China and Japan, and fresco. As a muralist, I was attracted to fresco. I didn't want to lose this precious teaching so I decided to revisit this fresco technique and adapt it to the modern time.

What is fresco painting?

Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster. After a certain time, the lime plaster dry in reaction to air. This chemical processes is called carbonatation of the lime.

This chemical reaction fixe the pigments in the plaster and make the painting very solid and protected over time. It is for this reason, fresco murals are amongst the oldest artworks ever found on the earth.

How to adapt fresco technique to modern time?

Being a Master of fresco require a lot of training and knowledge. I didn't want to lose my experience, but creating fresco on wall is complex so I decided to use this technique not on wall but on wood panels. I replicate the same steps of lime plaster coating layers on the wood panel from a rough hang texture to a thin and smooth finish.

I do my first paint layer on the fresh ("fresco" means fresh in Italian ) lime plaster to create a solid and sustainable background; and I usually paint my artwork on semi-fresco (half-fresh). At this point, the carbonatation is still active and the pigments will still be fixed into the lime plaster. At the end, I highlight my paintings with pigments mixed with a binder. I try to use a minimum quantity of acrylic binder.

Here, some examples of my fresco artworks. I am doing a series of Pacific Northwest Birds, each birds have crossed my path at a specific time of my life.

Thanks for reading,


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