Fresco is a gritty dynamic medium that transforms bits of color, lime and water into a fantastic, lasting, and rock solid mural for ceilings or walls. Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome are perhaps the most well known frescoes in the world. Great frescoes require a careful conception and execution.
The artist must spend hours conceiving and designing the fresco well in advance. The artist must then complete all preparatory drawings, called “cartoons,” prior to painting day. Since the artist is painting on to wet lime plaster, the drawings, paints and brushes must be mixed and ready at hand.
When the traditional brick surface is not available or feasible for use, an iron lathe frame can be manufactured and installed before the initial coat of plaster is laid. Once a project design has been approved in writing, the iron lathe is fabricated and installed and the initial scratch or “rough” coat of plaster is laid.
The scratch coat takes 4 to 6 months to cure. During this time the artist further develops the design through preparatory drawings and large scale cartoons, and color preparation.
The second layer of plaster or “arriccio” is laid upon the artist’s initial arrival to the job site. Each day the artist lays a section of the final “intanaco” plaster layer and then has 8-10 hours to complete that section of the picture. Each section is completed in this way like a puzzle within a span of two to eight weeks depending on the scope of the project.