PAINTER FOR A DAY: A RENAISSANCE FRESCO LESSON IN FLORENCE
A fresco is a mural painting on freshly-laid, or wet lime plaster. When the plaster sets, the painting actually becomes an integral part of the wall. Take a fresco lesson in Florence at a real Academy of Art, under the guidance of an art teacher, reproducing one of the details that we have previously analysed in the Brancacci Chapel. Learn the phases of a buon fresco (true fresco), from the drawing on a cartoon (cartone) to the wetting of the wall and the spreading of plaster. Get to know how to mix the colors: vine black, yellow ochre, orpiment, burnt umber (clay from Umbria region, where this color was extracted in the past), etc. You will be the protagonist of your Renaissance experience!
TOUR OF THE BRANCACCI CHAPLE IN FLORENCE
The Brancacci Chapel was commissioned by Pietro Brancacci in 1386 in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. It’s sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance” for its painting cycle, among the most famous and beautiful of that period. Painted by three different artists, Masolino, Masaccio e Filippino Lippi, Masaccio is the one who makes a radical break from the medieval artistic tradition by adhering to the new Renaissance concept of space dominated by the geometrical perspective. After seeing the fresco technique on the walls of the Brancacci Chapel, it’s time to put it in practice by making your own fresco painting!
FRESCO LESSON IN FLORENCE: WHAT’S REALLY A FRESCO?
The Italian word “fresco” means fresh. It’s the painting on wet plaster with water-based pigments. When the plaster dries the pigments become part of the wall’s matrix and it gets extremely durable. It’s different from “secco”, which means dry. In this case you paint on damp or dry plaster with pigments mixed with a binder. Therefore it’s less durable. First step to make a fresco it’s to prepare “arriccio”, i.g. the rough layer to smooth out the wall. After that you make the “intonaco”, an upper layer of plaster upon which final painting is done. You have to report the drawing on the plaster using a cartoon (“cartone”), incising the lines with a sharp instrument through the “spolvero” technique. You prick the cartoon’s lines with a needle. Then you dust it with a pounce bag to transfer the image into the wall. That’s all it takes!
How long? 3 hours
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