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.