Friday, 2 October 2015

Mexico -- Chapel in Chapingo

In July 2015, I finally made it to the Autonomous University of Chapingo (outside of Mexico City) to see the chapel Diego Rivera painted in fresco in 1927.

Unfortunately they would not let me take any photos of this fresco masterpiece.  In fact, I heard different things about when the chapel was open, so I posted the official sign outside the chapel (which is in both Spanish and English).

There are pictures online, such as this view of the whole chapel:

Diego Rivera painted several images of Tina Modotti in this chapel fresco:

In 1926 Diego Rivera's wife Lupe Marín asserted that her separation from her husband was caused by his affair with Modotti, a byproduct of Modotti's nude modeling for him for the murals as "the Abundant Earth" at the National Agricultural School in Chapingo, near Texcoco [1926-27]. Their affair lasted for about a year and he painted her five times in the Chapingo murals, including as "The Earth Enslaved", "Germination", and "Virgin Earth"

Diego Rivera also painted Pablo O'Higgins into the mural more than once, including in the front main image as Prometheus.  Earlier Francisco Delgado and I visited the Leopoldo Mendez show at the Museo d Estanquillo.  Leopoldo and Pablo O'Higgins were two of the founders of the printmakers group Taller de Grafica Popular.  Leopoldo called his son "Pablo" in O'Higgins honor.

The Rivera chapel occupies 
only part of the main building on campus

We also went to see the fresco mural in central part of Mexico City --Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central -- by Diego Rivera.  I went with Francisco Delgado, who did a fresco with me in 2011, and was about to do a relief print edition in Oaxaca.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

17__Pilgrimage to The Fresco School

I drove out to Los Angeles and visited with iLia Anossov of The Fresco School (Aug 8).  iLia was first exposed to fresco in art school in his native Russia, and now paints and teaches fresco in the US.

iLia standing next to 2 fresco studies on primed plywood (the ligher one is "aged" artifically, whereas the vivid one is not):

The fresco studio:

iLia said that fresco painting does not have to be that expensive.  To save on the cost of slaked lime, one can paint with  2 coats (or even on just one).  He can thinly plaster a previous fresco, and use that for a support.  He can even do practice frescoes with cheap and available Home Depot lime (which has too much magesium for the best buon fresco painting), after slaking that lime for as little as a week (or even less).  Moreover, one might save on dry pigments if he buys them from a masonary supply shop.  In short, students should not be discouraged from painting in fresco, because they can easily start with cheap materials.

iLia painted this fresco on Home Depot lime:

One layer fresco on a burlap-like cloth support:

The important thing is to get a feel for your lime plaster.  Wall frescoes are often painted on 5 layers of lime plaster, but  those layers can work against the artist, if they wick the water out of the top coat too fast, and cause the surface of a fresco painting to dry too fast and crack.  Conversely, if those underlayers are saturated with water, they can keep the surface layer wet for a long time, and painfully delay the painting process.

Moreover, iLia said that one can midst the fresco plaster with an atomizer, during painting and even after the painting is finished, to keep it from drying too fast and cracking.  In fact, misting can make the fresco stronger, as it does with concrete.

If one paints on the fresco plaster while it is still wet, he will mix his pigments with the lime, and the final fresco will suffer dull colors.  However, when the surface is dry enough to absorb the ground pigments, the artist can glaze thinly with color, and the fresco will radiate with vibrant colors when it dries and cures.

Outdoor frescoes which iLia painted in Los Angeles:

iLia was mentioned in Architectural DigestInterview with iLia.


Fredercio Vigil painted this fresco at SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center) near Venice Beach:

(I found Frederico Vigil's mural from this mural list posted online) 


I did not see the Orozco fresco, but note that there are 2 frescoes at Pomona College (the other by Rico LeBrun).


Siqueiros painted a "fresco" -- America Tropical -- in downtown Los Angeles "made of cement rather than the traditional plaster, (which) was completed the night before its dedication on October 9, 1932."  In 1938  this masterpiece was white washed over and forgotten. Now this mural on Olvera Street is currently being restored under a multi-million dollar contract, though it is not yet open to the public (Aug 2012).

1998 reproduction of America Tropical by Siqueiros on the old Self Help Graphics building in East LA:

The Siqueiros mural is currently being restored under this canopy on Olvera Street in downtown LA:

Between the examples of iLia and Siqueiros, I'm inspired to try painting "fresco" on Rocalite, the translucent concrete additive from Mexico. Unlike regular concrete, Rocalite does not set up for 3 hours, giving the artist plenty of time to paint pigments on the surface:

I experimented with the Rocalite hoping to make more translucent concrete sculptures.   Perhaps with this material we can paint a translucent concrete fresco, or even a 3D translucent concrete sculpture with fresco technique.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

16__Santa Fe frescoes

I found frescoes painted in the courtyard of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe (Jan 7) -- all painted in 1934 by Will Shuster (one of the "5 Nuts in Huts"), except for one painted by Frederic Vigil in 1998 (who also painted the big fresco at the Natural Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque):

"Voice of the Earth":

"Voice of Sipapu":

"Winnowing Wheat":

"Pottery Making":

In this detail, one can see the dotted pounce line of the transferred image, as well as abrupt cuts between the head and the body. Shuster must have painted the head and the body during two different sessions, and thus applied plaster two different days:

Decorative serpent:

"Voice in the Sky":

"Voice of the Water":


Fresco painted much later by Frederico Vigil:

There is also a fresco by Olive Rush in the entrance of the old public library (she painted a fresco at New Mexico State University as well). I will post a picture of this in the future.

Friday, 30 December 2011

15__Audra and Martin large fresco

Martin Quintanilla stands between the finished fresco and his wife at the Solar Culture Gallery opening (June 9, 2012):

 Audra started this large fresco, and Martin finished it.

Audra opted to paint a fresco on a full piece of 1/4 inch Hardibacker board -- 5 by 3 feet (Dec 16). Since a panel this large will flex and shatter the fresco painting, Jorge welded an iron frame for her, which was both rigid and tilted back on removable legs, to make a free standing presentation. This frame was a huge innovation, and we thank Jorge profusely for helping us out.

The Hardibacker panel seemed extra smooth, so I painted a thin coat of Weld-Crete on it (Dec 18):

Audra wanted to paint the back of the fresco, since it would show in the free standing frame. She tested two soy based Ecoprocote colors, which we bought at Originate and decided to use both of them, painting the green over the yellow:

Painting the whole backside:

She also painted another coat of Weld-Crete on the front (Dec 23):

Jorge welded an angle iron frame, with cross supports and an extra X support. He also added a small cube on each side, which hold removable legs. That way the fresco would tilt slightly, for free standing presentations:

Detail of the screw that secures the legs to the main frame:

Audra then sprayed the frame with Rustoleum, so that the iron would not rust into the wet fresco. However, she first taped off the parts which were to be glued to the Hardibacker support, namely the inside of the frame and cross braces:

Spreading the adhesive (PL 375) onto the iron frame:

She placed the Hardibacker support onto the fresh glue, and then added bricks for weight, while it dried:

She also prepared the first arriccio coat, ultimately using 16 parts sand to 6 parts lime putty (12 oz scoops):

Mixing with gloves:

The final mix was fairly dry, so she added a bit of water to it:

She let the arriccio sit overnight, in a sealed plastic bag, inside a plastic container with a lid:

The next day, Xmas Eve (Dec 24), she trowled the arriccio coat on thinly:

Arriccio plaster begining to cover the blue Weld-Crete:

Audra then "floated" the arriccio coat, with a wooden float. She pressed down very hard, and scraped a lot of of the plaster off:

Ultimately we brushed off a lot of the arriccio plaster, which we intended to use for coating smaller ceramic tiles, to paint more fresco:

The arriccio which we brushed off during the floating, filled a large part of a plastic bag:

About 2 hours later (2 PM), the fresco broke out in white blobs, where the arriccio had dried (unevenly). However, the plaster did not crack:

The panel now awaits in storage, ready to be plastered and painted (Dec 30):

All the necessary materials are stored neatly behind the panel:

I prepared the intonaco plaster (Jan 23, 2012) using materials from American Clay -- ratio: 5 parts lime putty to 8 parts sand. Pictured below is 16 parts of 80 grit marble sand (12 oz scoops):

The lime putty looked lumpy, but I do not think that it froze this winter. We had already used half the bucket:

10 parts lime putty (next to the marble sand):

This intonaco was never used to paint the big fresco. It was still squishy on March 1, 2012. On April 2nd we used it to paint a test tile, however it was not fresh and creamy, and cracked almost immediately. Thus I threw out this above intonaco mix (April 3, 2012).

ART DETOUR (April 1, 2012):

Because of various schedule conflicts, Audra was unable to finish the fresco. However, Martin Quintanilla stepped in much later, and offered to paint the fresco we started last year.

Martin's original contemporary Maya codex from the Erotica Show (Feb 25, 2012):

I ordered more lime putty and 30/50 marble sand from American Clay (26 March 2012). Two 5 gallon buckets arrived at the Sculpture Resource Center few days later by UPS:

Joshua working on Martin's big Maya painting (acrylic) at the Sculpture Resource Center:


We laid out all the material to paint a test tile (April 2, 2012):

We used the old intonacco that I prepared January 23, 2012, to paint test tiles. This old intonnaco was "dusty" to the touch, and "crumbly" when pinched, so Martin dug deep into the center to get to the wettest and most elastic part:

Martin trowled the old intonacco onto a dry Hardibacker tile, but the intonacco did not stick well. Then we sprayed down another Hardibacker tile (as shown). The intonacco stuck better to the wet tile (though it was not as creamy as it should have been):

We finished troweling the tiles at 7:05 PM:

At 7:25 PM -- 20 minutes later -- Martin started painting on the better tile, the one we wet down first:

Although the sun had set, and it was a cool April evening, the intonacco plaster cracked by 7:35 PM. These cracks, however, did not grow overnight, as the fresco dried. I want to attribute the cracking to old intonacco plaster.

The tile we plastered dry, cracked even more deeply right away, and grew as it dried overnight:

(April 3, 2012)

Martin poured the top water off the new bucket of lime putty:

Then we measured 8 scoops of 30/50 marble sand, to 5 scoops of lime putty. This time we used a 24 ounce scoop (twice as big as the scoops we used previously):



1st GIORNATA (April 3, 2012)

First we sprayed down the support. This 3x5 foot panel had a very thin coat of dry fresco plaster on it:

Martin plastering at 3 PM. This intonacco was a lot creamier, and thus spread more easily than the old intonacco, especially with the flexible Japanese trowel:

Martin plastered only as much area as he would paint that afternoon, and finished this segment by 3:15 PM. Naturally it was too wet to paint on at that time:

By 4 PM the plaster was still too wet to paint on, but the sprayed unplastered area below was drying quickly:

Fresco sketches:

Maya symbols painted on Amate paper:

At 4:30 PM Martin started painting. He said that the surface was a little too wet in the middle, but towards the drier edges he could paint without pullnig the plaster off with the brush. By 6 PM, the fresco surface still glistened and felt moist, as if it were just ready to paint, yet a single small crack was developing:

Martin had left by 9:30 when I returned. He had neatly cut off the unpainted plaster:

Detail of the "giornata" -- the day's work:

The single crack enlarged slightly (on the left in the photo below), where the fresco was applied more thickly:

2nd GIORNATA (April 4, 2012)

Martin finished plastering the 2nd section about 12:15 PM:

At 1:45 PM, an hour and a half later, he started painting. A small crack had already formed by that time (Martin painted during the hotter and drier part of the afternoon, rather than during the sunset hours like the day before. The days are warming too, but still not yet in the 90s in Tucson):

At 2:45 PM, 2 straight larger cracks formed:

This crack is so straight, and formed so quickly, that perhaps it is due to bad plastering, rather than the plaster drying out too fast:

3:30 PM:

Day's work is done:

Detail of 2nd "giornata:"

3rd GIORNATA (April 5, 2012)

We had to mix more intonacco plaster, making the same quantity as before:

Martin clamped a wooden stick to the panel, and plastered up to that horizontal line, finishing at 2:15 PM:

Then we went out for "Mental Menudo," while the plaster dried enough to paint on:

Martin began painting at 3:30, an hour and 15 minutes after plastering:

We moved the fresco panel to the back of the studio that day, because it was cooler and not as exposed to wind; and thus, hopefully, less prone to drying fast and cracking:

Detail of the day's work:

By midnight several small cracks had developed in one concentration section of the giornata:

We did not finish the next day as planned. However, my time was up in the studio, so I had to move all my fresco and other painting material out of the Sculpture Resource Center to my new place (April 10):

4th GIORNATA (April 13, 2012)

More than a week later, I brought all the critical supplies back to the Sculpture Resource Center to finish the fresco.

We did not have enough plaster to finish the fresco, so we had to mix a final batch. Ultimately we used almost 15 scoops of lime putty to 24 scoops of 30/50 marble sand (24 ounce scoops) to make the intonacco, just that final layer of painting plaster to cover the 3x5 foot surface. We did not have much lime putty or sand left in the 5 gallon buckets afterwards:

Martin plastered all the week old intonacco on the left side of the fresco:

Then Martin finished plastering the right side of the fresco, with the fresh intonacco (we did have fresh intonacco leftover). He finished plastering at 11 AM:

Martin started painting at 12:30 PM, and finished about 4 PM, completing the whole fresco that day:

By 5 PM, a small crack started developing in the left side of the fresco, where we used the week old intonacco:

The next day, that small crack deepened and spread. I think the intonacco was too old:

A tiny crack also developed on the right side, by the next day, where we used the freshly mixed intonacco. However, this crack was small, and might have developed because of poor plastering:

Martin and Joshua also hung their painting collaboration outside the Sculpture Resource Center that day, in time for the Open Studio tour on the weekend: