Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - Painting - Fresco

Limitations & Advantages - Painting Procedure - The Wall - Sketches, Cartoons, Transfer - Secco Painting - Brick Walls - New Walls - The Aggregates - The Lime - The Mortar - Making the Lime Putty - Mixing the Mortar - Intonaco - Brown Coat - Plastering the Wall - Rough Cast / Trullisatio - Sand Finish

Pigments - Brushes & Tools - Bianco Sangiovanni

Fresco - Pigments

Pigments for fresco painting should be resistant to the strong alkali action of lime and must also set well in the plaster lest they powder off like pastel. The following pigments can be used:

Ivory Black
Mars Black

Cadmium yellow, deep --sometimes suggested but it should be checked for fading
Mars yellow
Raw sienna
Yellow ocher

Cadmium red --recommended by some artists, questioned by others. I have seen examples used in indoor frescoes that have remained in good condition over twenty years.
Earth reds [English, Indian, Light red, Venetian]
Mars red
Pozzuoli red --when genuine it is like a cement. Other colors may not set well over it. Therefore it should be used only in top layers of a fresco painting.

Cerulean blue
Cobalt blue
Ultramarine blue --If of good quality it should not react to lime but may bleach out because of the action of polluted air containing dilute acids. It is not recommended for fresco, although it has survived in interiors in clean country air unpolluted by corrosive city smoke.

Chrome oxide opaque
Cobalt green
Terre vert

Cobalt violet --should be tested before use for its setting action in lime. The poisonous cobalt violet [cobalt arsenate] should be avoided.
Mars violet
Ultramarine red and violet --under some limitations as ultramarine blue.

Burnt sienna
Burnt umber --sometimes sets badly and powders off wall.
Raw umber

Lime putty
Titanium dioxide
Bianco sangiovanni --the preparation of this white is described by Cennini. [See Bianco Sangiovanni.] It is still considered the most appropriate white for fresco technique by many painters

On a glass slab all colors are ground with distilled water to paste consistency, using a muller or a spatula. Then, like pastes for egg tempera painting, they can be stored in clean screw-top jars. A little water should be gently poured over the top of the paste to keep it from drying out. The jar covers should be made of plastic, rather than metal, so that they will not rust.

[Kay, Reed. The Painters Guide to Studio Methods and Materials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983. pp. 180-183]



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